So, I finally got hold of a Beaulieu 4008 ZM II for a friend's production but despite working perfectly, being pristine, with a crystal clear Schneider Kreuznach 1.8 / 6-66 zoom and even a working rechargeable battery... I DON'T LIKE USING IT!
The main problem is that I adore shooting Super 8 handheld and I just don't feel comfortable holding the 4008, as I struggle to get a good grip on the tiny handle. It works like a dream and is nice to operate in many ways but I feel like I'm almost balancing the camera uncomfortably on my hands rather than actually holding it whilst shooting.
I know a few fellow Film-makers who adore the 4008 but I literally can't get to grips with it!
Should I possibly add a larger grip underneath? Attempt to clutch hold of the camera differently? Or simply consign it to a tripod?
Or am I doing something wrong? This beautiful piece of kit doesn't feel as instinctive to use in my own (not that large) hands.
The Beaulieu 4008 is definitely a unique camera. All that metal and the giant lens makes it heavy too. It was definitely strange the first few times I shot with it but it became more and more "normal" as I used it.
I've gotten my best Super 8 images off my 4008 ZM II Jubilee edition. I like the insanely high speeds available for super slow-mo. I like the manual setting of ASA speeds since there are so many choices these days.
I also love my cheap-ass autofocus Canon 310xl cameras which I generally pass out to the kids to shoot a roll on vacations. Rarely is anything actually in focus and even when it is the lens is horrible but the results look more like Super 8 was in the 70's and I usually get beautiful accidents from them.
I'd suggest keeping it for a summer and shoot as much as you can with it to see if you get more used to it. If not you can sell it and pick up another higher-end camera. I feel like it's good to have one high-end camera that can get you sharp, excellent results and one (or more) cheap cameras to have for fun and not worry if you get sand in it or drop it on pavement.
I guess I'm going to have to use it a lot more over the summer to see if I can get used to it. I really hope I do, as in every other way this camera ticks all the boxes for what I like to have in a Super 8 camera. It's robust, jammed packed full of features and pretty easy to operate.
I'll still try attaching a basic extension handle to the grip, to see if that makes it a little more comfortable to use.
How odd, i find the camera great for hand held work, a bitch on the tripod, especially at full zoom, trying to pull focus is a nightmare without wobble, big top heavy lens on a small c-mount, nasty! I find the 7008 range a pig to use hand held...
Here's a little tip for usability, pick up a wide c-mount lens; even one of those 8mm ones for CCTV cameras and everything farther than a foot will be in focus. Makes the camera 1/2 as heavy and much easier to handhold. Of course you miss out on that great glass.
On late models with the declutch button, it's meant to be a feature, but Super 8 cartridges aren't really capable of being rewound much. The older Standard 8 format is much better suited to in-camera effects like double exposures because it uses spools, and lots of cameras have rewind facility. Or use something like a 16 mm Bolex.
I have a backwinder built for the purpose. You have to tape over the cartridge spindle beforehand to prevent the film being taken up, then shoot. A few feet of film then backs up inside the cartridge. The cart then goes in the lightproof backwinder and you wind it back with a sprocket wheel.
There's a limit to how much you can backwind, I forget how much, probably 10-15 seconds, but it's easier at the start of a cart because there is more room in the take-up chamber for the film to bunch up.