Jump to content




Photo

Why are so many cameras in-op?


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 John R Woods

John R Woods
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 30 posts
  • Other
  • Birch Bay, WA

Posted 12 May 2015 - 01:59 PM

I have a couple of Elmo cameras I bought off of eBay (one recently, one years ago).  The more recent acquisition runs, but the power zoom doesn't work.  The other one doesn't work at all.  Both are in cosmetically excellent condition, and seem to have been well kept.  One hypothesis, for the 612S-XL, is that there might be a broken wire in the folding grip.  I've never opened up a camera before, so that's an untested hypothesis.  In any case, I see a lot of non-running cameras on eBay.

 

Granted, super-8 cameras were mostly made for consumers and not professionals.  Lenny Lipton wrote in The Super 8 Book that even high-quality cameras often needed tweaking right out of the box.  (I presume they actually ran, though!)  Consumer items meant to be used for a couple of years and then replaced with The Latest And Greatest might be expected to fail.  And yet, Elmo was an excellent brand.  Other non-working cameras I see for sale are similarly excellent brands (e.g., Beaulieu, Canon).

 

What is it about super-8 cameras that make them so prone to failure?  Why would they fail simply by being stored?  (I know storage varies, but most people do take some care.)

 


  • 0




#2 Perry Paolantonio

Perry Paolantonio
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Other
  • Boston, MA

Posted 12 May 2015 - 03:06 PM

You're talking about 30-40 year old cameras in many cases, and in a consumer format, no less. These were probably never regularly serviced when used by their original owners (except in rare circumstances, i'd think). 

 

Electronics that old could be subject to a bunch of issues: solder joints that come undone, blown capacitors, frayed wires and short circuits. Not to mention corrosion from batteries left in the camera for years on end...

 

Mechanically, there can be issues as well. There are moving parts in these cameras and in anything with moving parts, things are bound to break sooner or later. Especially when the parts are mostly plastic... "Belts" (usually just tiny rubber bands) don't last forever either, and those are often problematic in older cameras. 

 

Super 8 cameras, with a few exceptions (I'd say Beaulieu, Canon, Nikon, Nizo, Bauer and a few others) weren't usually built for the long haul. I'm not sure I'd classify Elmo as "excellent" - they were good cameras (I still have a working one that was in my attic for 20 years and fired right up last time I used it), but you know - these things are old!


  • 0

#3 Simon Wyss

Simon Wyss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1143 posts
  • Other
  • Basel, Switzerland

Posted 13 May 2015 - 02:49 AM

Humanity got spoilt for consumation during the 20th century. You don’t expect a Super-8 camera to be made to last and above all to be service friendly. They were made to be thrown away one day. They were the integration of the Do-All before video with electric motors, battery check, automatic diaphragm adjustment, built-in conversion filter(s), backlight correction, speed override, film end indication, gee, it doesn’t end. Convenience is the word.

 

There’s a serviceable Super-8 camera out now, the LOGMAR.

 

 

Why not try the Double-Eight format?


  • 0

#4 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1488 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 13 May 2015 - 10:37 AM

Motors using bronze bushings for bearings don't like sitting around forever.  A not working/seized motor may be fixed with a couple drops of 10w oil.  Old belts get brittle and just pop.  Switch and battery contacts oxidize.  Paper electrolytic capacitors dry out and need replacing..  An old camera/old light/old car, isn't something you buy expecting it to be ready to go.


Edited by JD Hartman, 13 May 2015 - 10:39 AM.

  • 0

#5 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 13 May 2015 - 10:48 AM

  Paper electrolytic capacitors dry out and need replacing..

It even happens to Steenbecks.

The maker's advice for a Steenbeck which smells dusty when you run it is to throw it away, but then they won't even look up a part number without charging for it.

Needless to say I ignored the advice and £5-worth of components off ebay later  I have one of the very few serviceable examples in the country.

If you can get inside there is plenty you can do, as long as non-generic parts haven't worn out, in which case your only source of parts is another camera- Eumig, for example, went bust in 1982.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 13 May 2015 - 10:49 AM.

  • 0

#6 John R Woods

John R Woods
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 30 posts
  • Other
  • Birch Bay, WA

Posted 13 May 2015 - 11:03 AM

There's a serviceable Super-8 camera out now, the LOGMAR.

 

 

That runs... What?  Five kilobucks?  I have a working Beaulieu, and I don't do this professionally.  Five grand equates to an Aaton super-16, almost 40 hours of Cessna 172 rental, over 20 hours of helicopter rental, or a vacation for me and my girlfriend!  :P

 

My Aatons are close to 40 years old, and they work fine.  Same with my Scoopic.  The Arri and R16 are even older and work well.  Not to mention the consumer electronics and electrical things that are 30 or more years old that I still use.  It just seems odd that super-8 cameras would 'go bad' while other things don't.

 

(And JD, don't get me started on old cars!  I have a '66 MGB y'see... <_< )


  • 0

#7 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1488 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 13 May 2015 - 11:12 AM

It even happens to Steenbecks.

The maker's advice for a Steenbeck which smells dusty when you run it is to throw it away, but then they won't even look up a part number without charging for it.

Needless to say I ignored the advice and £5-worth of components off ebay later  I have one of the very few serviceable examples in the country.

If you can get inside there is plenty you can do, as long as non-generic parts haven't worn out, in which case your only source of parts is another camera- Eumig, for example, went bust in 1982.

 

Parts can always be made.  A good machinist can replicate gears, linkages, re-bush pivots, etc., just using his experience to determine the dimensions and tolerances of the original parts.


  • 0

#8 Perry Paolantonio

Perry Paolantonio
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 345 posts
  • Other
  • Boston, MA

Posted 13 May 2015 - 02:10 PM

 

My Aatons are close to 40 years old, and they work fine.  Same with my Scoopic.  The Arri and R16 are even older and work well.  Not to mention the consumer electronics and electrical things that are 30 or more years old that I still use.  It just seems odd that super-8 cameras would 'go bad' while other things don't.

 

Er.. your Aatons and Arris are professional cameras, built to a different standard than consumer gear. They cost tens of thousands of dollars new, compared to a few hundred for a S8 camera - cameras that were mass produced and used a lot of plastic. Even your Scoopic and R16 could be classed as low-end professional cameras, so you'd expect better build quality than most Super 8 cameras. 


  • 0

#9 Simon Wyss

Simon Wyss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1143 posts
  • Other
  • Basel, Switzerland

Posted 14 May 2015 - 04:06 AM

The Canon Scoopic 16 is a consumer camera. Nothing is really rigid with it.

 

Same with Beaulieu


  • 0

#10 Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1921 posts
  • Producer
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 17 May 2015 - 02:37 PM

Two words: plastic gears.


  • 0

#11 Jean-Louis Seguin

Jean-Louis Seguin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 649 posts
  • Other
  • Montreal, Canada

Posted 17 May 2015 - 05:30 PM

"Parts can always be made. A good machinist can replicate gears, linkages, re-bush pivots, etc., just using his experience to determine the dimensions and tolerances of the original parts."

Sounds easy doesn't it. Let's be realistic.
How much do you think that's going to cost?
Do you think this experienced machinist is going to do the work for a few bucks an hour?
.
  • 0

#12 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1488 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 17 May 2015 - 06:54 PM

No

 

"Parts can always be made. A good machinist can replicate gears, linkages, re-bush pivots, etc., just using his experience to determine the dimensions and tolerances of the original parts."

Sounds easy doesn't it. Let's be realistic.
How much do you think that's going to cost?
Do you think this experienced machinist is going to do the work for a few bucks an hour?
.

 

A few bucks an hour, no, not a chance.  As a camera technician, do you work for a few bucks an hour?? 

 

You might find someone at the low end for $60 an hour.  What's it worth to you to get the camera back in working condition?   Especially a camera where manufacturers support has ended decades ago.  Gears and other working parts can actually be produced with 3d printing.  How long they will last depends on the stresses they are subjected too.


  • 0

#13 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4743 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 18 May 2015 - 02:17 AM

A few bucks an hour, no, not a chance.  As a camera technician, do you work for a few bucks an hour?? 
 

 

That may be a rhetorical question by Jean-Louis.

 

It gets like those TV programmes where highly skilled car repairer(s) renovate old cars at the lower end of the classic market to be sold for a few thousand pounds to make a profit and you know that it just doesn't make economic sense.


  • 0

#14 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1488 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 18 May 2015 - 06:28 AM

Good economic sense, doesn't always factor in when it's something you need and parts are no longer available.


  • 0

#15 Martin Baumgarten

Martin Baumgarten
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 140 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Plattsburgh, New York U.S.A.

Posted 27 May 2015 - 03:34 PM

There were many good answers to this question.  I thought I'd pop in as well. Very early Super 8mm cameras, those basic models such as the KODAK M2 and M4 which didn't have the later neoprene drive gear, and many other simple basic Super 8s such as the Hong Kong made GAF S-80, can easily be serviced and should last for many more years.  The issue is with more complex motor zoom and electronic cameras.  Those that didn't offer a mechanical manual override on the meter, are rendered useless if the meter dies.  Another reason I'm a fan of the Chinon made GAF ST-111 (and others) where even if the meter dies, manual aperture settings and even fades can still be accomplished (and the other name badged versions of these also made by Chinon such as Porst, Revue, Chinon etc).   These cameras aren't the top end of course and have their own drawbacks....but every one of these in my collection that I have used, still run today so I can continue to use them from time to time.  Some of the electronic cameras from the early 70s might surprise you, as many YASHICA LD6 etc are still functioning fine. 

 

   The big trouble comes with the era of mid-1970s camera onward, as many were using early Cmos chips to control a host of functions. This is a major issue with the Sound NIZO cameras.  Often, you'll find one that runs, but the autoexposure is gone, and sometimes so is the manual exposure driven by the same servo motor.  Also, when the chip fails, the fancy double-exposure, fades, and lap dissolve functions cease working.  The lap dissolve in the YASHICA LD4/6/8 cameras is mechanical/electrical, not electronic....as is this same function in the NIZO S-xxx series.    Having repaired and worked on more Super 8mm cameras than I wish I had over the past few decades, I speak from experience.  Another reason many Super 8mm Filmmakers default to cameras such as the BEAULIEU silent series since they still have lots of repair support.  Even one of my favorite cameras, the SANKYO XL620 dies from a variety of issues:  trigger release breaking internally, speed control failing, and the foam noise reduction padding in the film chamber turning to goo....if you don't contain it or remove it, it can seep inside the camera due to flaking off and gum things up.  While I love this camera, it's a nightmare to repair, with dual layer circuirt boards where both must be desoldered to get deep inside, say to fix that trigger, or replace the capstan drive belt.

 

   That is another frustrating issue, the capstan drive belt, as they have failed from age in the majority of cameras I own.  And they can be a royal mess to try and replace, often not worth it.  However, now, since I still want to shoot single-system sound film (since there still is tons of it out there that's never been shot, and can always be processed to something usable, even if as a B&W Negative), I have no choice but to repair these belts on the ones I want to use.  Buying one off eBay or elsewhere usually results in the majority of them also having failed from age, or will before I ever make it thru a cartridge of film.  There was a real glut of consumer cameras, and as nice as those small sound ELMO cameras are, they seem to fail, not only due to lack of use, but for various age related issues. They, like most of our consumer electronic products, were built for the short term use period, not forever.  Many or most could be repaired, but even if you only paid $10 per hour for repairs, the amount of hours to disassemble, repair, clean, check, adjust and reassemble a camera, making a new part somehow notwithstanding, will still get very costly.

 

  What is the answer?  Buy those cameras that have earned a reputation for longevity.  While a pain to have to wind up each time, the russian QUARZ Super 8 camera has various speeds, manual exposure control, a variety of functions and for the most part seems to keep going.  The cost is very reasonable.  Other cameras such as the silent NIZOs also seem to do well long term.  Sometimes the meters die, and sometimes there's an issue on the circuit board, often just corrosion that affects running speeds and these can still be fixed.  If I just had a nice bright viewfinder on the trusty GAF ST-111, it would be so much better for lower light, oh well.  Someone else mentioned using Double 8mm (aka Regular 8mm), and this is a fun gauge to use, as there is still film available.  Don't discount the smaller image size, as a decent camera such as any of the fine BOLEX 8mm cameras and even my REVERE ones, will shoot great images.  And Super 8mm frame size is NOT 50% larger, that was all sales hype, based on projector frame cropping standards applied to Regular 8mm originally based on the 16mm format from which it's based. 

 

   Anyhow, a lot of which cameras or format to use, is based on what film type you want to shoot.  If you prefer Color Neg and thus just want transfers and do everything else on digital video and show it that way, it's Super 8mm or 16mm.  If you want to shoot reversal film and use it both ways, transfer to digital AND project film, you could use either.  Both Color Reversal via AGFA 200D and whatever remains still of the EK100D, and B&W is available.  In fact, there are several Black & White film choices such as TRI-X, FOMAPAN R100, ORWO and AGFA to name the main players.  All except Fomapan R100, can also be Negative processed.  And ALL of these fine B&W Reversal films can be Sepia tone processed yielding another alternative for projection viewing (versus those that digitize all and thus could manipulate the look however they want for their DVD or Blu-Ray viewing etc).

 

Sorry to be so long winded here, but the facts are the facts, and despite the bleakness of so many filmstocks having been discontinued and labs that have closed, we that love analog film can rejoice for what we still have available for our use; to film our families, our memories, our artistic creations, or for work and business.  Hope this helps put another aspect on this issue.  Best wishes, Martin Baumgarten, Plattsburgh Photographic Services, NY


  • 0

#16 Jean-Louis Seguin

Jean-Louis Seguin
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 649 posts
  • Other
  • Montreal, Canada

Posted 27 May 2015 - 05:59 PM

Great post Martin! Says it like it is.

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
  • 0

#17 Paul Boers

Paul Boers

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 7 posts
  • Other

Posted 07 June 2015 - 01:47 PM

Thanks very much Martin for your clear statements.
If you're lucky, you have a camera from the mid-70's with CMOS technique that still works. I 've been lucky - I still use my Agfa Movexoom 10 without problems to this day. And the images are as sharp as e.g. Canon, Nikon or Nizo. And concerning colour reversal film, we still have Agfa and hopefully later this year Ferrania will be back...

 

Best regards,

Paul


  • 0


The Slider

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Tai Audio

CineLab

Pro 8mm

Zylight

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Aerial Filmworks

Pro 8mm

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Zylight

Abel Cine

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

CineTape