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Should I get into 16mm?


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#1 Derek Leverette

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 04:19 AM

Disclaimer: This message was originally posted in the S8 forum. I post it here because I want to get many different perspectives. I'm aware that professional quality film/processing/telecine costs are practically the same with 16mm as with S8, but I have very little money to spend and I'm only beginning. Please keep reading. I trust many 16mm users once started on S8, so I would love to hear your opinions.


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I've spent the better part of the past 4 days online, reading nothing but S8, DS8, Single 8, all kinds of 8mm knowledge and I'm kind of obsessed with it. I'm a film student and I've decided I have to shoot film, asap. The entry cost of 16mm is too high, I feel. And I don't really care for naturalism in cinema anyway, so S8 is how I'll go.

From what I've read, it seems K40 is wonderful because of its price and quality, maybe not the best for transfer but still good. It amazes me that I could shoot and transfer (not on a rank machine) 4 rolls of K40 for little more than 100$. A shitty transfer maybe, but good enough for me to edit an experimental piece.

But K40 is going to go away and I've never shot a single roll. I still want to get into S8 because people say 64T could be great, maybe even better for telecine. I want to self-fund 500$ music videos, shoot in S8, and then edit on a friend's workstation.

Is this the right choice for me? I'm going to buy a Leicina Special and of course use proper transfer for serious work - but what about the costs of raw stock and processing for 64T? Do we think it can compare to K40?

I'm encouraged also by Spectra's deal. From them, it appears one can buy a package of 8 rolls of S8, even neg film, get processing, rank telecine and media tape for under 500$. But some people strongly dislike the neg stocks in S8... (not having seen it myself, I ask you for advice)

I'm ranting at this point. What do you guys think. Am I swept up by the romantic qualities of all of this? Is the death of K40 the death of S8 as a poor, starting filmmaker's learning tool? Do I instead save up the big bucks for 16? Please help.
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#2 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 06:01 AM

Disclaimer: This message was originally posted in the S8 forum. I post it here because I want to get many different perspectives.  I'm aware that professional quality film/processing/telecine costs are practically the same with 16mm as with S8, but I have very little money to spend and I'm only beginning.  Please keep reading.  I trust many 16mm users once started on S8, so I would love to hear your opinions.
-----
I've spent the better part of the past 4 days online, reading nothing but S8, DS8, Single 8, all kinds of 8mm knowledge and I'm kind of obsessed with it. I'm a film student and I've decided I have to shoot film, asap. The entry cost of 16mm is too high, I feel. And I don't really care for naturalism in cinema anyway, so S8 is how I'll go.

From what I've read, it seems K40 is wonderful because of its price and quality, maybe not the best for transfer but still good. It amazes me that I could shoot and transfer (not on a rank machine) 4 rolls of K40 for little more than 100$. A shitty transfer maybe, but good enough for me to edit an experimental piece.

But K40 is going to go away and I've never shot a single roll. I still want to get into S8 because people say 64T could be great, maybe even better for telecine. I want to self-fund 500$ music videos, shoot in S8, and then edit on a friend's workstation.

Is this the right choice for me? I'm going to buy a Leicina Special and of course use proper transfer for serious work - but what about the costs of raw stock and processing for 64T? Do we think it can compare to K40?

I'm encouraged also by Spectra's deal. From them, it appears one can buy a package of 8 rolls of S8, even neg film, get processing, rank telecine and media tape for under 500$. But some people strongly dislike the neg stocks in S8... (not having seen it myself, I ask you for advice)

I'm ranting at this point. What do you guys think. Am I swept up by the romantic qualities of all of this? Is the death of K40 the death of S8 as a poor, starting filmmaker's learning tool? Do I instead save up the big bucks for 16? Please help.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Save them for 16mm, not that I want to discourage u going on S8mm,
It's just that u can be more safier with your releases.An S16 camera would be far more better , u can shoot 16mm with it if you like but also Blow up S16 for 35mm.As for the quality of S8 it's just that it has some advantages and a special grainy look, but this isn't something that u can't simulate with S166, if you use some lab tecniques.
Also everywhere u go u can find labs for 16mm, but not so many for 8mm.
Dimitrios Koukas
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#3 Nathan D. Lee

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 05:09 PM

I say take it one project at a time. If you have a music video S8 might work or might be entirely wrong. For your budgets DV might work great, or possibly DV intercut with s8 or 16. What i am saying is that it all depends on your subject matter and what look and feel you want to achieve and can achieve based on your budget.
For general learning purposes i say just call up Kodak and order serveral rolls of s8 negative and start shooting. Make a short story up or just shoot tests. You will learn so much from this few hundred dollars and then you will be better qualified to make a call when a short or music video comes along.
There is no one answer, just start shooting, and experimenting you will learn more than can be answered in any forum.
16 is great stuff and again will produce a very different visual reasult, but an entire music video in 16 for under 500 is a little close.
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#4 Mike Lary

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 05:39 PM

The entry cost of 16mm is too high, I feel. And I don't really care for naturalism in cinema anyway, so S8 is how I'll go.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That sounds pretty definitive (but I don't see what naturalism has to do with choosing between those mediums). Are you really even considering 16 or are you looking for people to validate your decision to shoot S8?

Since transferring your film is going to cost you several times more than your setup costs anyway, the real question is - do you want to spend a little extra money (in comparison) to buy a 16mm camera instead of an S8? A few hundred bucks, maybe less, will get you a decent MOS 16mm camera. You can always rent a sync cam if you have a paying gig. I don't know anyone who can actually afford to shoot film, but we do anyway, and we go into hock to get the equipment we need. I wouldn't consider shooting anything smaller than 16, and I'd be shooting 35 but I wouldn't have any change left for rice and beans.
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#5 Derek Leverette

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 10:28 PM

That sounds pretty definitive (but I don't see what naturalism has to do with choosing between those mediums). Are you really even considering 16 or are you looking for people to validate your decision to shoot S8?

Since transferring your film is going to cost you several times more than your setup costs anyway, the real question is - do you want to spend a little extra money (in comparison) to buy a 16mm camera instead of an S8? A few hundred bucks, maybe less, will get you a decent MOS 16mm camera. You can always rent a sync cam if you have a paying gig. I don't know anyone who can actually afford to shoot film, but we do anyway, and we go into hock to get the equipment we need. I wouldn't consider shooting anything smaller than 16, and I'd be shooting 35 but I wouldn't have any change left for rice and beans.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I don't wish to sound too hard-headed; I just want to think all this stuff out before I put my money down. Naturalism is equally difficult (and/or desirable) to attain in any format I suppose, but maybe there's a certain surrealness built-in to S8 that would be harder to achieve in 16.

Truth is, I'd be happy with MOS 16 with a few features like variable shutter and one frame exposure. I do enjoy myself some animation. Most important to me is lens sharpness; I really distrust zoom lenses actually. Can you help me with some suggestions?
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#6 Robert Hughes

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 10:34 PM

Keep in mind that Super 8 has always been intended as a medium for amateur home movies. It's a tiny image, and any problems you encounter with the 30 year old camera transports will be magnified. The Super 8 cartridge is not a high precision mechanism, and the Super 8 forums are constantly filled with comments from irate shooters complaining about jitter and gate weave. If you have somebody's time and money on the line for a real shoot, you're going to have more control using 16mm.

That said, I shot Super 8 this weekend. It's a gas, and people come up to you and ask why your camcorder is clicking?
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#7 Mike Lary

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Posted 25 September 2005 - 11:25 PM

Truth is, I'd be happy with MOS 16 with a few features like variable shutter and one frame exposure.  I do enjoy myself some animation.  Most important to me is lens sharpness; I really distrust zoom lenses actually.  Can you help me with some suggestions?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, I'm a big Bolex fan. All their 16mm models have single frame capability for stop motion (not pin registered, but I haven't had a problem with frame steadiness yet), and backwinding capability for double exposures (or to backwind unused film so you can refrigerate it). The variable shutter will drive the price up, however. You can pick up an early model non-RX or RX for anywhere from $100-$300 with a prime lens (or multiple primes), but the variable shutter models generally sell for $400+, and twice that if they have magazine capacity. Switar lenses are sharp, and there are plenty of them around - the trick is finding a camera that has some primes on it and snagging it before anyone else. Sold separately, lenses go for $50-$250 each depending on condition. Body and lenses are cheaper for non reflex models, but non-reflex models require you to focus the lens, then rack it over to the shutter position. This poses a problem if you do macro work because you have to rely on a parallex viewfinder, but for normal work it's a small price to pay for the $avings. Here's a link you can use to determine what features are on any Bolex based on the serial number:
http://www.city-net..../bolex/history/

Since you don't trust zooms, a Krasnogorsk K-3 is out of the question - they come with a stock zoom and Pentax mount, and only one lens mount (a pain if you're using primes).

There was a thread awhile back where a number of people listed 16mm cameras by price and quality. You might want to search the archives for that.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
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#8 Michael Carter

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 07:36 PM

but non-reflex models require you to focus the lens, then rack it over to the shutter position. This poses a problem if you do macro work because you have to rely on a parallex viewfinder,


Bolex has a little chunk of metal you put your camera on that allows you to slide the camera up and down. The effect is that what you see in the focus is what you will shoot after you move the camera on the thingie. Sometimes you see them on the bay and they are not much in demand. I got one and it works great for titles and close close ups. Some day I may even use those extension tubes with it and film a bug cleaning its boogers.
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#9 Ryan Ball

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 07:49 PM

Shoot some Super8. It's a great way to get into film because you can experiment with lighting, exposure, etc. without having the intimidation of filmloading and what not. I have a 16mm MOS camera (K3) that works great, but I still like S8 better. Talented people will do great work, regardless of format. I tend to cringe at stuff shot on video but I've seen a couple features shot on consumer equipment ("The Celebration") that blew me away because of the storytelling and skillful direction.

Have you considered B&W? Kodak's PlusX and TriX are great to work with and produce great results. If you shoot it well, people won't know it's not 16mm reversal. And the B&W film is also cheaper and a lot of people find it more artstic.

I have a project in planning that requires the '70s 16mm "In Search Of" look and feel, which you just can't get with the crisp new 16mm color stocks. Super8 is the better choice for that, in my book. Plus, I get longer takes with my super8 than with my 16mm MOS.

The end of K40 is not the death of Super8. There are more available stocks than when I started shooting, so I see that as a great sign. Just get your first whif of film and you'll ge hooked. Seriously, smell the stuff!
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#10 Mike Crane

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 08:59 PM

The cost difference to shoot super 8 vs. 16 is a close call. But, super 8 is still a bit cheaper. However 16 is more forgiving to shoot with a better ratio of good results.

It also depends on your access to equipment. If you have a 16mm camera sitting in the closet then it might be good to take another look at 16. Look at the cost to purchase a good super 8 camera versus a reasonable 16 (such as a Canon Scoopic).

Spectra also just recently added a variety of discounted 16mm film/processing/telecine packages as well (see their website). You can choose any fresh Kodak film you wish in any load size (100' or 400').

Lastly, you may want to consider the creative nature of the project you are shooting. Does film grain add to the cinematic experience you wish to convey? If so, super 8 is not as risky a choice. I would also consider shooting super 8 neg instead of reversal. This will greatly improve the ratio of usable shots and save on reshooting.

With all that is available, you have some interesting choices. You may want to sharpen your pencil and add up the real difference in cost to see if 16 and its advantages are worth it to you.
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#11 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 09:30 AM

Kodak 16mm website:

http://www.kodak.com/go/16mm

Kodak Super-8 website:

http://www.kodak.com/go/super8
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