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Super 8 camera with prime lens?


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 09:49 AM

Just wondering if anyone knows of any super 8 cameras that were produced with fixed focal length lenses? Obviously, they would be extremely rare since the vast majority of these cameras had zooms. I did own a Halina super 8 camera which I believe had a prime lens unless my memory is playing tricks on me. Unfortunately, the lens quality was not that great and it did not have a reflex viewfinder. I guess  other possible options would be the few cameras that have interchangeable lenses like Beaulieus and the Leicina Special.

 

I see that the Russian Quartz camera has a prime lens (when the zoom lens is removed.) Though I'm reading conflicting reports about the focal length of the Quartz prime lens. Some say it's 12mm and others say it's 15mm. 


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 30 March 2018 - 09:57 AM.

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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 11:32 AM

I think you'd find most of the inexpensive Super 8 cameras made during the switch over time from standard 8 to super 8 in the 60's, were fixed focal cameras. The whole zoom lens thing was a feature on the more expensive models. My first TWO super 8 cameras were fixed focal, but of course they didn't have much of a lens sadly.

So finding fixed focal is easy... but they were mostly range finders and had zero exterior adjustments like f stop or focus. Also, I bet they were all 18fps.

Now, with all that said, there are a few Super 8 cameras with standard interchangeable lens mounts. The Beaulieu's for instance, which can take standard C mount lenses.
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#3 Martin Baumgarten

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 12:27 PM

Many early and even later Super 8mm cameras were made with fixed focal length lenses.  This was common among the lower cost end models, and sadly, most were auto exposure and rated for ASA/ISO 40/25 for the KODACHROME-II, KODACHROME 40, FOCALCHROME 40, AGFACHROME 40, ANSCOCHROME 40 and many other films from various manufacturers as well as by the main makers under store brand names.   The same goes for the cameras, with so many being made by HAKING and CHINON for a large variety of brand names as well as their own.   That being said, there were versions with manual exposure, and some of these are my favorites.  Here are some:  Chinon Pocket 8 (REFLEX viewing!  Offers manual exposure & auto as well as add on zoom and fixed wide and tele lenses to the built in fixed 15mm prime, slow motion with add on battery pack grip etc), Chinon Pocket 8 Dart (auto exposure only), GAF Anscomatic S/80 and the even more compact GAF Anscomatic SC90, both made by Haking, GAF Anscomatic S/70 (this one being a really cheap plastic junker but usable).  The S/80 and SC/90 have glass lenses, and use Waterhouse Stop aperture settings, and produce pretty sharp steady images at 18fps (lenses usually need to be cleaned which will require some disassembly, and the lens can be readjusted for sharper focus if necessary but that's more complex to do for the enthusiast).  PORST Cockpit lower end models were fixed focus prime lenses with large Reflex type viewfinder owing to a fiber optic to the lens port, but these were mostly autoexposure.  REVUE Pocket versions are the Chinon made Pocket 8 and Dart versions but with different knob cosmetics.

 

   The Russian made QUARZ Super 8 camera with its removable zoom lens unit, leaves behind a fixed focus prime 15mm lens.  I have used this with an Anamorphic KOWA 16-H lens for full CinemaScope with the horizontal focal length equivalent of 7.5mm.  This camera produces pretty sharp images.  BAUER Star XL (two versions, a fixed focal lenth and a zoom lens version) and the BAUER Mini (two versions, one with auto exposure only and one with manual exposure only in which on the left side you can see the Color Coded Aperture settings to coincide with the exposure scale on the same side).  There were many others, too much to list all here.  Viewfinder notwithstanding, I like the GAF S/80 and SC/90.  You add on a lens to any of the fixed focal length cameras either via filter threads or other mounting method, and thus have ultra wide angle or telephoto.  With the reflex type cameras like the Chinon Pocket 8, Minolta, Bauer, etc, you can easily see the effect change.  I have also robbed off the ultra large bright viewfinders from KODAK Double 8mm cameras from around 1960 which you can modify to fit on top or the side of a camera and have a much better viewfinder.  So many options.  

 

Lastly, of course, with a high end camera such as the BEAULIEU 2008 to 4008 models, you can use most any C-mount prime that will fit.  Some have even removed the pistol grip to make the camera more compact and tripod friendly.

 

Many might poo poo some of the cameras I mentioned, but hey, whatever works is my motto.  I'm also a big advocate of filming at 18fps;  it's easier on the film, you get more running time, and you can do transfers fine with hardly anyone ever knowing or questioning whether you shot at 18fps or 24fps.  I only use 24fps to smooth out motion such as out of a bus, car, train, plane, or from a bicycle etc.   My own projects are for fun these days, and with longer running time, it saves on film costs as well.  Many of these low end cameras are fairly easy to work on, and keep running.  Good luck, and have fun!


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 05:50 PM

The Leica Super 8 camera could take prime lenses.

 

http://gmpphoto.blog...amera-ever.html


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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 10:37 PM

Thankyou all. That is a wealth of information. Yea I was mainly interested in good quality prime lenses rather than junky ones. And manual exposure would be mandatory. Though I am on a shoe string budget so Beaulieus and Leicina Specials wouldn't be viable options. 

 

 

 

I guess I should say what I would be planning to use such a camera for. Basically filming through a microscope with an afocal setup. I did this very same thing a few weeks ago but used an M4/3 camera to shoot digital footage through the scope. My original aim was to shoot digital video footage of microscopic organisms found in aquatic environments and I must say that I'm very pleased with the results. I used a Panasonic G6 in conjunction with a light compound microscope.

 

 

 

At the moment, I'm finishing off a cartridge of 50D and thinking of suitable subject matter to shoot and a thought occurred to me. Why not shoot some footage through my microscope? I think the results could be cool and might look sort of similar to those old nature / science documentaries from the 60s and 70s. Though of course those sort of docos would have been shot on 16mm film but I digress.

 

 

 

The reason why I'm prioritising prime lenses is because zooms often don't do well in afocal photography. Especially long range zooms as they tend to vignette. So something like a 10x zoom would almost definitely be out of the question. Some short range zooms can work well in such setups without vignetting. However, a prime lens will greatly reduce the chance of vignetting. Though even a prime is no guarantee against vignetting in afocal photography. It all depends on the particular lens design. 

 

 

 

I note that the recommended focal lengths for digital formats in combination with a 10x microscope eyepiece for afocal are slightly longer than 'standard.' For M4/3, it's a 30mm lens. For APSC, it's 40mm.and 63mm for 'full frame.' I use a Sigma 30mm f2.8 lens on my Panasonic G6 M4/3 camera with a 10x Nikon eyepiece for microscope footage and that combination works well. I think I recall that the standard focal length for super 8 is around 12mm, right? So about 15mm would probably be ideal.  

 

 

 

Martin, what are your thoughts on the quality of the optics of the 15mm lens on the Chinon Pocket 8? Also, is this lens fixed focus? I'm assuming everything would be in focus from several feet to infinity? As long as I have infinity focus, that's the main thing. It might surprise some people but in afocal setups, the camera lens is focused on infinity, despite being millimeters away from the eyepiece. 

 

 

 

One possible issue I have is a matter of colour temperature. I'll be using daylight balanced film with the microscope's LED light source. I note that LED lights vary a fair bit with their respective colour temperatures. I'm not too keen on engaging the camera's internal filter as that's designed for tungsten lighting and would rob the film of a fair bit of light (it's only 50asa.) By the way, I do have two LED lights that I can use with my microscope. One has quite a warm colour and the other looks a fair bit cooler. I also have a blue filter I can use with the microscope.


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 30 March 2018 - 10:44 PM.

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#6 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 10:54 PM

Oh darn, I just noticed that the Chinon Pocket 8 doesn't have 24fps. All the exposed footage on this current cart of 50D has been shot at 24fps (and will be transferred before too long.)


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#7 Roger Haney

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 10:34 AM

As far as I know, only Beaulieu 2008 and 4008, Leicina and Fujica ZC1000(Single8mm-which is Super8mm in a different cart) have a "C" mount. I would think the Beaulieu 2008 would be a less desirable model and maybe cost less than 4008's. The wonderful thing about these cameras(I have a 4008ZMII and a ZC1000) is that you can use virtually any lens on these cameras with an adapter. You could use Arri or Cooke lenses; with an adapter. Carrol Ballard used Nikon film camera primes on his Eclair 35mm to shoot the art shots in "The Black Stallion": that's what I use on my cameras. An alternative could be to use Fujica Single8mm cameras. The Fujica Z800 is almost as good as the ZC1000 and the Fujica Zoom lens is an excellent lens.(Fujinon zoom lenses are a premiere lens used for digital cinema). I've been picking up Z800's for around $50-$60; in excellent condition. Because of the cartridge; Single 8mm can be back wound for the entire length. Single8mm is Super8mm in a different cartridge. It is available from Retro8mm(retro8.com)and Provia100 color reversal and Kodak Tri X b/w reversal are available. Since Retro8 has a limited amount of reusable carts; they only sell Single8mm film with processing; so you will return the cartridge. You can email them at mail@retro8.com. Currently, Provia100 is the only color reversal stock available; as Wittner has stopped supplying Agfachrome to the U.S. Provia100 is also available in Super8mm(with or without processing) from Retro8mm. It uses E6 processing; so it can be processed in the U.S.
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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:22 AM

Carrol Ballard used Nikon film camera primes on his Eclair 35mm to shoot the art shots in "The Black Stallion": that's what I use on my cameras. 

 

I saw The Black Stallion at the cinema when I was really young. Really enjoyed the movie, especially the photography.

 

By the way, Ive used some Fuji Provia 100F in 35mm stills and medium format but not in motion picture film as yet.


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#9 Martin Baumgarten

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 12:16 AM

Yes, the CHINON Pocket 8 is fixed focus 15mm F/1.8 lens, very sharp.  My only issue with this camera is the trigger release is on top of the camera requiring strong force to activate it.  I've owned several so they all the same.  This makes it difficult to have a gentle release.  There is a work around, which involves depressing the trigger on top and pushing something hard into the slot to keep it activated.  Then use the Power Switch to turn the camera on/off while it's on a tripod.  There will be a few frames uneven triggering it this way, if on auto exposure, but in manual mode set prior to doing this and then turning the camera off.  Anyway, I think it's too much of a pain for what you are doing Patrick.   KODAK's lower end cameras were manual exposure fixed focus fixed focal length lenses, however 99% of them will no longer work, other than the initial two models, the M-2 and M-4.   This is due to KODAK using a neoprene drive gear on the motor shaft that turns to crumbs with age (same issue with their consumer grade slide projectors).  The M-2 and M-4 will make sharp images though and have glass lenses.  Seem all kinda primitive for what you're working on though.

 

BEAULIEU's sound camera models 3008 and 5008 also have C-mount lenses. They are larger physically than the silent version cameras, but can often be purchased for much less.  If just requiring a good quality but low cost C-mount camera body, these would work also.  The battery issue is a pain for original types but can be worked around just as with the 2008 and 4008.

 

For color temperature, you could just buy the necessary filter material and cut yourself a small filter to fit into the lens area.

 

Plenty of good Single-8 cameras to use out there.  The P-1 and P-2 both have fixed focal length lenses, but are only autoexposure.  Anyhow, since all 'new' Single-8 stock is actually reloaded Super 8mm cellulose triacetate filmstock versus the original mylar base of the FUJI film, it will intercut nicely with other existing Super 8 filmstock and maintain the focus since film base thickness will be similar.

 

ELMO made really good cameras with metal bodies in the earlier days of Super 8.  Lots of options, for all budgets out there in the world of flea markets, eBay, and online sites.

 

As for the running speed, 18fps is not that problematic in transfer. I guess you could just have it match whatever else you are using.  Since film transferred and adjusted for 18fps original footage shooting and likewise for film shot at 24fps, they will both look 'normal' in post when completed.  For us projection enthusiasts it's an issue of course.

 

I do have to ask though, since your project ends up in a digital format for playback anyway, why not just shoot digitally thru your microscope and use that?   Outside of having grown up with film in the analog world, and being someone that enjoys analog, I do have to say, digital has come way up in the world and we've all come to expect images to be so sharp and clear these days.   If this was something you wanted to project on film, then of course, I would suggest shooting on film, or shooting digitally and then refilming that onto film to splice into a film project.


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#10 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 09:24 AM

It does look like there are a number of viable options. Out of curiosity, does the Russian Quartz offer manual exposure?

 

With regards to the capture format, I had originally planned to shoot through the microscope with digital video. And I have done exactly that over a week ago and was pleased with the results. And the majority of times in the future, I will also will also use digital video with the microscope. However, I thought it would be fun to try the same thing on super 8 film for the look - perhaps once or twice. Yes, digital is more convenient for this kind of shooting so logically, I will use that medium most of the time for this application. Though those old science / nature documentaries from the 60s and 70s do have an alluring charm about them. I'm hoping that by using super 8, I will get a similar sort of look to those old docos, even though they would have been shot on 16mm. Actually, a few years ago, I had filmed kangaroos in slow motion on super 8 on my family's farm. Watching the transferred kangaroo footage, it felt like I was watching a 70s nature documentary which gave me great satisfaction. So to summarise, I want to use super 8 for the look. 


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 01 April 2018 - 09:29 AM.

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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 10:10 AM

The Quartz camera are Standard/Regular 8mm. They do have a  manual aperture adjustment, just looking at a picture, it's adjusted  with a ring around the exposure meter on the Quartz 5..


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#12 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 10:13 AM

Brian, I made a typo. I was referring to the super 8 Quarz camera. 


Edited by Patrick Cooper, 01 April 2018 - 10:15 AM.

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