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Any opinions on these cameras?


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#1 Peter Woodford

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 12:56 PM

Hi all,

 

I recently got into super 8. I joined a local film co-op and rented a Canon 814XLS for all the shooting I've done so far. 

 

I really like that Canon, but it I have to pay a large deposit each time I use it also has a slight issue where the diopter doesn't lock in place so it can lead to fuzzy focus if I'm not careful.

 

In the meantime I happened upon a lot of five cameras for very cheap. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or experiences with these models?

 

I'd like to shoot a Tri-X test cartridge, does anyone know of any guidelines for shooting the most effective test? (I was planning on shooting a test card at a few different distances under both bright and dim light; and maybe a bit of my cat walking around for some motion).

 

So here are the cameras:

 

1) Canon Auto Zoom 814

This one is very good shape. No battery corrosion. It runs well and the light meter looks to work with zinc air cells with a little kludge adapter I made. The potential issue I noticed was some foam rot under the film cart door hinge (I wonder if is this foam essential for light-tightness?) http://super8wiki.co...n_Auto_Zoom_814

Am I correct in thinking that this camera will light-meter any kind of film?

 

2) Agfa Movexoom 10 Sound MOS

This one isn't currently working properly. It had severe battery corrosion in the AA chamber. Since cleaning it, the camera turns on and the zoom works, but the film trigger is still non-responsive. I might try completely disassembling it (I luckily found the oddball 'snakeyes' screwdriver needed).

http://super8wiki.co..._MOS_Electronic

 

3) Sankyo LXL-225

This one appears to be new in box. It seems a bit flimsy but the manual claims good low light performance.

http://super8wiki.co.../Sankyo_LXL-225

 

4) Nizo S80  

This also seems to work well (albeit very noisily at 54fps). The battery spring was tight enough that I could use 675 zinc air cells without an adapter. I'm intrigued by the half shutter setting (manual claims it prevents the need for an ND filter). I wonder if this would give very sharp images in bright sunlight? It seems to be a not-so-hot choice for low light, would you all agree?

http://super8wiki.co...x.php/Nizo_S_80

 

 

5) Bentley BX720. I read that this one is 'the worst super 8 camera ever'. It does seem to run OK though.

http://www.super8dat...ntley_bx720.htm

 

In addition, there was a Eumig Mark M Super 8 projector which works very well (but it's a bit tricky to load without crumpling film); a Goko Dual 8 (works but is really loud when winding, is that normal?) plus a Bolex B8vs 8mm camera (needs oiling; not sure where I could developed film slit); and a working Gossen Lunasix 3 light meter. 

 

I'd really appreciate anyone's thoughts and opinions on any of these pieces (reliability, image quality, flexibility in accepting film cart types, etc.). Thanks in advance.

-Peter


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#2 David Cunningham

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 01:21 PM

The Auto Zoom 814 is the work horse of wedding super 8 film makers.  It's durable, high quality and "easy" to fix.  In my experience, of all the fixed lens older cameras, it's one of the best with excellent lens quality (sharpness, etc).  The foam is not essential for being light tight.  I wouldn't worry about it.  The only frustrating thing about these cameras is the 1.35V batteries.  You must use the WeinCel 1.35 replacement for the old mercury batteries.  The 1.5V Alkaline batteries will die too quickly, give incorrect/inconsistent readings and potentially damage the meter in the long run.  It get's pricey over time.

 

 

The Agfa Movexoom 10 Sound MOS looks like a nice camera, although I'm not personally familiar with it.  The specs of super8data.com look good and the design looks nice.  I'm not familiar with the optical quality, however.  And, I am always nervous about battery corrosion.  You never know just how far into the body that stuff got without taking it all apart.

 

Sankyo LXL-225 is a low-end home movie camera with little about it that's "professional".  It might work and take decent images, but for me, only doing 18FPS is a killer.  It's not much of a zoom either.

 

The Nizo S80 is a great camera with good glass.  My favorite part about it (and the Canon 814 and 1014 XL-S modles) is the "split image" focusing.  For whatever reason, I just cannot focus well without a split image focusing system.  I've tried diopters, contacts, glasses, everything.  I just always seem to pull soft focus without split-image.  This camera is highly sought after and is probably the second most popular among "professionals" after the Canon 814 and 1014 XL-S.  With 500T, it will still excel in low light and the variable shutter is fantastic.

 

The Bentley BX720 is about as cheap as it gets.  Despite it being one of the last Super 8 cameras ever designed and sold, it's probably up there as one of the worst.  And, don't you dare drop it in inch.  You'll crack it to bits.  :)  It's not even "reflex", it's fixed focus and only 18 FPS.  Don't even bother with this one.

 

As for the projectors, none of those sound like a good option.  Some of those cheaper/later projectors had a habit of crunching film and the Dual 8s are scary to me.  They always seem to eat perfs over time. 

 

You can still get regular 8mm and have it processed.  But, it's going to be harder and harder as time goes by.  Spectra will do it:

 

http://www.spectrafi...eo.com/Lab.html

 

 

As will Dwayne's Photo:

 

http://www.dwaynesph...ektachrome.html

 

 

But, stock up on film now while it lasts.  Getting harder and harder to find and I don't know where you could find color reversal for it anymore.  I think it's all Tri-X at this point.


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#3 Peter Woodford

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:18 PM

Thanks for the great info David. The Canon 814 version I have is the very earliest with microprism focussing. Hopefully I can get good results with it. The diopter seems to have a pretty big 'sweet spot' for what looks to be in focus to my eyes--hope it translates to film. 

Glad to hear the Nizo is OK. The previous owner didn't seem to think much of it compared to the non-working Agfa. 


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#4 Will Montgomery

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 04:23 PM

I have two 814 AutoZooms and love them. Come in handy for defending yourself against bears. Very heavy but built like a tank. Unfortunate that they only go up to 24fps since that is what I normally shoot at.


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#5 Peter Woodford

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 08:58 AM

So glad to hear that you're loving the old 814s Will. I really love its ergonomics; I've always had a hard time holding cameras steady without a tripod, but that strap on the top of this canon really seems to allow for holding it perfectly still. 

I've found with mine, the diopter seems appears in focus for a pretty wide (quater-turn or so) range. Do you find it's pretty forgiving? Or did the camera take some getting used to before you got sharp images?

 

Aside: I had a go at fixing my Agfa MoveXoom 10 to no avail last night. The aperture control, zoom lens, light meter, and even the (nowadays useless) sound cart capstan (?) work. But the cartridge drive and gate still don't run when I pull the trigger.   

I think I got the battery corrosion mostly off and cleaned some internal contacts. The battery compartment has a sticker boasting it's 'leakproof', and I did not see any corrosion outside the battery chamber so I think they're must be another issue. I wasn't bold enough to remove the PCB. If anyone wants this for spare parts, I'll take any reasonable offer. It's complete with box, manual, earpiece and microphone.


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#6 David Cunningham

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 09:53 AM

When getting the diopter correct, there are two different methods to getting it exactly right.

 

The first is to bring the ground glass into perfect focus, ignoring the image in the background.

 

The other is to use the film plane mark on the camera to measure (with a tape measure) something exactly a certain distance away (any of the exact marks on the lens will do).

 

Set the lens to that distance, the the camera on a tripod, using the plane mark and tape measure get the distance from an object perfect ( i use 8 point font paper).  Zoom all the way in and adjust the diopter to create as sharp a text as possible.  Don't adjust the focus of the lens as it should be dead on at this point.

 

Dave


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#7 Peter Woodford

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 10:39 AM

Thanks for the great explanation Dave. I was completely unaware of the film plane mark before your post. I'm going to try both methods for my test cartridge and see which works better with my eyesight. 


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#8 Simon Wyss

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 11:48 AM

That’s all plastic. Stay away from Super-8. Would you have repaired a cassette player from 1980? Same drawer


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#9 Peter Woodford

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 02:50 PM

That’s all plastic. Stay away from Super-8. Would you have repaired a cassette player from 1980? Same drawer

Thanks for chiming in Simon. I'd like to eventually try a Bolex 16mm, but given my minuscule budget and novice-level knowledge, I think Super 8 is safer choice for now. I quite like the look of b/w 8mm reversal film too.


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#10 Miguel Loredo

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 03:57 AM

That’s all plastic. Stay away from Super-8. Would you have repaired a cassette player from 1980? Same drawer

 I did! The 814 Autozoom is heavy metal. Great 8 mm camera, definitely a must.

 

For me Super8 is Super8 and 16 is 16... different things depending on what one is looking for.

 

Never heard of the Bentley... have you tried it as a car?


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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 05:33 AM

Wow! Aluminium is a heavy metal?

 

There is nothing I can do about fetishism which is most widespread with amateur filmers. The Bolex myth is just the same. All that polished shiny aluminium!

 

Mechanically, the Eumig C 16 is so much better than the Paillard-Bolex H 16. Of course, there are more than 20 years difference between them. The Bell & Howell Filmo is still older than the Bolex but those cameras are heavy metal, best steels in the case of Filmo. The worst of all is the Pathé WEBO. Aluminium plus lousiest manufacture.

 

Silent now, the princess is coming  . . .

 

 The 814 Autozoom is heavy metal.


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#12 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 09:45 AM

Wow! Aluminium is a heavy metal?

 

I think perhaps the intended meaning was heavy and metal, as opposed to light and plastic..

 

I can fully appreciate your point of view, Simon. Like you I am far more interested in standard 8 and 16mm amateur cameras, particularly the well-made spring-driven variety. For those of us who like to pull these things apart and study their construction Super 8 cameras are often depressingly disposable, the first children of the plastic space age we now live in where something better is always around the corner and longevity beyond the warranty is an accidental miscalculation that displeases management because it diminishes the prospect of selling more new and improved units in the future. Sorry, "going forward".

 

But I would never try and dissuade newcomers from trying out Super 8. Discovering the joy of film doesn't require the best quality equipment or a thorough understanding of cinematography, it just needs to be fun. For ease of use, wealth of shared information and availability of cheap cameras you can't beat Super 8. And the fact remains that plenty of these cameras still work OK even after 40 years. 

 

Remember that as technicians we can fall into a fetish of our own, of manufacturing quality.

 

I'd like to comment on your 16mm camera observations but it would be veering way off-topic. Maybe you should start a thread about the Pathe WEBO. I always appreciate your camera dissections Simon.


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#13 Simon Wyss

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 12:37 PM

Yeahs, certainly, do Super-8 everybody! Don’t listen to the old brat.

 

But perhaps some day one or the other will remember our saying, only faintly yet disturbing like a grain of sand in the shell. Remember us, who we talked about cameras still older than the Super-8 gang

 

Only to answer your flowers, Dom: I have written about the Pathé WEBO M.

http://www.filmvorfu...n-pathe-webo-m/

 

I’d like to leave it up to an English grown person to translate.



 


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#14 David Cunningham

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 12:59 PM

Super 8 is and was designed as an easy-to-use amateur home movie format.  I don't think anyone has or would ever claim or expect it to be a professional class format.  

 

When using it in the wedding film industry, I'm not claiming that it's a high quality image or motion picture.  It's supposed to look like home movies...  It's supposed to have jitter and excessive grain.  It's supposed to have light leaks and artifacts.  When I want actual high quality images, I go Super 16 and possibly 35mm.

 

As far as regular 8mm or DS8 vs Super 8, the image quality CAN be better (especially in stability).  But, the ease-of-use of the Super 8 carts cannot be beaten.  You can hand a Super 8 camera and a few cartridges to just about anyone and they'll be able to pull off a usable image in adequate light.  That's it's purpose.  You'd be hard press to convince or teach a novice about flipping DS8 or regular 8 over half way through... or loading a 16mm magazine in a changing bag.

 

It is what it is.... and what it is is an amazing home movie format that today is being taken to lengths never imagined.  I keep meaning to upload my Vision3 50D clips, I swear I'll do it soon.  But, look at the images Jose was able to pull off.  It's amazing what you can pull out of this home movie format with amazing negative films:

 

 

Or the beautiful color and fine grain of 100D reversal, may it rest in peace:

 

 

Long live film and long live Super 8!


Edited by David Cunningham, 08 June 2013 - 01:01 PM.

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#15 Will Montgomery

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:09 AM

Super 8 has it's own aesthetic. If you want something sharper and clearer, 16mm is always there. If you want something to bring out a feeling, Super 8 is great for that.

 

I shot this mostly with about the worst Super 8 camera ever designed, the Canon AF310XL. The lens was crap and the autofocus was horrible and even when it did work the subject rarely would stand still and of course the AF never tracked; you have to release the trigger and pull again to refocus. That being said, there's still some emotional that connects with crappy, out-of-focus footage. It is also great to hand out to kids and let them shoot whatever they want. The sharp stuff was on a Beaulieu 4008 ZM II.

 


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#16 Miguel Loredo

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:30 AM

Wow! Aluminium is a heavy metal?

 

Maybe a new kind of timber out there... Never heard of iron made cinecameras, anyway


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