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New to Super 8mm - need film stock advice!


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#1 Aymie Elkins-Green

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 04:01 AM

Hey, so I'm starting to use film now as all I seem to be doing is trying to replicate it in post.. Might as well use the real deal!
Thought I'd start dead simple with a basic super 8mm camera, I got one off ebay for 99p with a projector and splicer.. Bargain!

What I'm stuck on is what film to buy. 

I've got the following.. 

 

Ben & Howell Focus-Matic 'Low Light' 674/XL

Eumig Wien type P8 D Projector

 

The instructions say it'll accept any ASA160 (for low light) or ASA40 (for outdoors) film. I don't think I'll be shooting particularly low light any time, so I am hoping to find an ASA40 film to start off with.

I've found the Kodak reels, but none of them state the ASA (speed?)

 

Any advice would be SO much appreciated  :) THANKS!!  :)


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#2 Geoff Howell

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:36 AM

unfortunately no one makes 40asa super8 film anymore, the closest you can get is 50 which will slightly over expose in your camera

 

if you're wanting to project what you shoot your options are kinda limited.

Wittner in Germany sells black and white 'PXR50' for 33euros (including processing)

 

If your not bothered about projecting with your Eumig and want to get your footage straight on to your computer for editing; you can use color 'Kodak Vision3 50D',

If your in or near London there's a couple of places you can pick this up over the counter.

It's more expensive than the black and white film and will need to go to Europe for processing, plus you'll need to pay to have it scanned/telecined on to a hard drive or dvd   


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#3 Zac Fettig

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 06:45 AM

I'd recommend trying your hand at Super 8 with a roll of Kodak Tri-X. It's a Black and White Reversal film, so you'll be able to project it. It's rated at ISO 200, so it will slightly overexpose in your camera.

 

It's slightly cheaper, and telecine (converting the film to a video clip) can get expensive.

 

160 isn't really low light. It's just lower light than being outdoor in full sunlight. If your shooting indoors, you'll either need lights or faster film.


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#4 Cynthia Almanzar

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:04 AM

Hi Aymie. I hope you don't mind me hijacking your post too much but I am also curious about this. I was under the impression you could work around this by getting any film and using an external light meter and manually exposing. Am I completely off point here?

 

Thank you


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#5 Geoff Howell

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:19 AM

Hi Aymie. I hope you don't mind me hijacking your post too much but I am also curious about this. I was under the impression you could work around this by getting any film and using an external light meter and manually exposing. Am I completely off point here?

 

Thank you

that all depends on weather or not your camera allows manual exposure; most of the cheaper models are auto only 


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#6 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:48 AM

Hi Aymie. I hope you don't mind me hijacking your post too much but I am also curious about this. I was under the impression you could work around this by getting any film and using an external light meter and manually exposing. Am I completely off point here?

 

Thank you

 

Yes, I do this all the time and I just have a really basic camera (Nizo 136XL).  When I first started using it I was equally freaked out about the whole 40/160 ASA limitation thing.  Cartridge pins never match it exactly with these modern film carts, so I used to only rely on auto-exposure and just use stocks like 200T (because that would meter at 160 ASA and give me a 1/3 stop over-exposure which this films likes, so it would come out awesome every time by just plugging it in there and setting to auto - This might be good for you Aymie to test out your camera - but yeah you'll need to pay to telecine that stuff then because you can't project negative of course.  If you want to try it out straight up, use Tri-X, which is also 200T and reversal). 

 

Cynthia, yeah, I started to just set this same camera to MANUAL mode yes, and basically just point the camera very still at whatever the area of focus was in order to get a good reading on the dial inside the viewfinder of what f-stop (it will literally just say the f stop on this cheap little dial in there, and you can see it floating around as you move the camera across the scene, so hold it still on what you want to shoot - this is just my camera though so yours will have a different way of showing you the reading probably - but same idea basically - an f-stop is shown depending on what you point the lens at).  Then, you just go "ok, that is the reading" (a very important step.  You have to say this out loud or else it won't work).  Then adjust the markings on the lens to that f-stop.  This will avoid you a lot of really bad super 8 footage that looks like the camera is constantly "jumping" exposures trying to catch up as it moves past bright windows or dark spots etc as the camera moves.  If you shoot negative stock (like 200T) then you can just find a medium lit area and meter for that and your camera will not have all these schizophrenic fluctuations when panning around a scene.


Edited by Matthew B Clark, 30 April 2014 - 10:50 AM.

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#7 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:54 AM

And yes, you can use any film you like if your camera has manual mode.  The 40/160 text turns into dust and falls off the camera the second you switch to manual.


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#8 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:42 PM

The 50D and 200T will work fine in a 40/160 camera. Although it will overexpose the film by 1/3rd stop, it's actually a good thing for S8 because a little over exposure on a negative can tighten up grain and make the colors pop a little more. What I do is use my cameras meter to take readings and set my exposure manually. The negatives can't be projected of course, but have tons of headroom for digital editing.


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#9 Cynthia Almanzar

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 04:51 PM

And yes, you can use any film you like if your camera has manual mode.  The 40/160 text turns into dust and falls off the camera the second you switch to manual.

 

 

Yes, I do this all the time and I just have a really basic camera (Nizo 136XL).  When I first started using it I was equally freaked out about the whole 40/160 ASA limitation thing.  Cartridge pins never match it exactly with these modern film carts, so I used to only rely on auto-exposure and just use stocks like 200T (because that would meter at 160 ASA and give me a 1/3 stop over-exposure which this films likes, so it would come out awesome every time by just plugging it in there and setting to auto - This might be good for you Aymie to test out your camera - but yeah you'll need to pay to telecine that stuff then because you can't project negative of course.  If you want to try it out straight up, use Tri-X, which is also 200T and reversal). 

 

Cynthia, yeah, I started to just set this same camera to MANUAL mode yes, and basically just point the camera very still at whatever the area of focus was in order to get a good reading on the dial inside the viewfinder of what f-stop (it will literally just say the f stop on this cheap little dial in there, and you can see it floating around as you move the camera across the scene, so hold it still on what you want to shoot - this is just my camera though so yours will have a different way of showing you the reading probably - but same idea basically - an f-stop is shown depending on what you point the lens at).  Then, you just go "ok, that is the reading" (a very important step.  You have to say this out loud or else it won't work).  Then adjust the markings on the lens to that f-stop.  This will avoid you a lot of really bad super 8 footage that looks like the camera is constantly "jumping" exposures trying to catch up as it moves past bright windows or dark spots etc as the camera moves.  If you shoot negative stock (like 200T) then you can just find a medium lit area and meter for that and your camera will not have all these schizophrenic fluctuations when panning around a scene.

 

Matthew:

 

Thank you for the responses. I am a newbie as well and I appreciate you taking the time to give me detailed answers. 

 

hope to continue to see you around.


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#10 Matthew B Clark

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 09:56 PM

No problem.  I hope any info I've given helps!  Definitely try a test cartridge of 200T on manual.  I think you'll be happy with the results (as long as you have fresh batteries in your camera for the light meter). 

 

I'd do two things with a test cartridge:

 

First take a few different meterings through the lens like I said up there, just scoping around the room, or outdoors, wherever....to get an idea of your range of f-stops that are covered in a random roundabout turn of the camera.  Just to see how it works and to feel it out and get it sort of "on your mind" what's going on. 

 

After that, pick a static shot.  Meter it to know what it is supposed to be at.  But then DON'T just shoot that f stop.  Do a bracket test on it.  Meaning (stop me if this bores you because I don't know "what you know"), you basically shoot the same scene at the "correct" f stop, then change the lens to be closed down one stop lower....then two stops lower.....one higher than normal.....then plus two etc. (but do it in this order -2, -1, 0, +1, +2) so when you get the film back you can see the effects of over and under exposing, and it will then show you really clearly not only what it does to the look of that film, but how much you can trust "your camera's light meter" to get that look.   ONE THING though....just write down on pieces of paper, or paper plates or whatever scraps you have laying around when you do it....a series of numbers: -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 all on their own paper and include it into the scene (like tape it to a back wall or whatever basically) so that you will later on know what stop "did that" to the film you're actually viewing.  Bracket tests are awesome to help you to just sort of start melting into your camera...where you two get to know each other.  Because they're quirky, mechanical, and frankly "well-loved" machines, and so you have to do these things to learn their quirks (and also film's quirks).  Keep in mind I am speaking from a pragmatic view, assuming we don't have pro techs servicing our little Nizo's!  But that's what makes it fun.

 

But just for general use photography, yeah, you can just meter every shot really.  Negative stocks today allow for a TON of headroom in the highlights, so you can lean more toward the open side.  That way you'll pull up information out of any deep shadows, but probably not necessarily be blowing out the stock either.  It depends how deep you want to go into this, but there are far better threads and info out there on detailed metering, the zone system, and just how meters should be dealt with than I can offer here.  But anyway, another benefit of you shooting a little more open than the meter says is that you'll reduce grain this way because you pull the image up out of the noise floor basically.  If you want grain, do the opposite, and close the lens down a little more.  But this is again all stuff that the bracket test above will show you.  So pick a cool still life, or a person sitting on a neat couch or something, and tape those papers behind them and twiddle some lenses!!!


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Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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The Slider

Tai Audio

Opal

Metropolis Post

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks