The Kodak Super 8 Challenge @ $75 per 3 minute film !

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Kodak may be experiencing a revival but in my days of Super 8mm film it cost about £7 per film which included processing and delivery from Hemel Hempstead. The 2016 version will be between $50 – $75 (£35 – £52).

Chinon-Super-8mm v3

This is me back in the 1970s with my Chinon Super 8mm sound camera running at 18fps. Remember your sound was 18 frames ahead of your picture making it very difficult to edit. I ran my camera deliberately at 18fps to gain extra time (About 1 minute) which gave me about 3.5 minutes. A switch on the camera went from 18 to 24fps but unless you were filming for broadcast no one used their Super 8mm cameras at 24fps.

Kodak film 5

The above film is one of the new stock and is Tri-X which is black and white. We used to get our film marked as ASA but Kodak seem to have gone over to Exposure Index alongside DIN. In daylight with no filter the EI is 200 or 24 DIN while indoors is EI 160 or 23 DIN.

I do question the very high cost of todays version at least seven times dearer, that locks out the biggest market…students. I think Kodak are indeed setting out a challenge by charging at least £35 for the new Super 8 film and process, especially as memory today is relatively cheap and video has no cost beyond its initial purchase.

Kodak cam

I do hope the new Super 8 mm cameras are less basic and clinical as seen here especially if they are charging the best part of £550 for the pleasure. It seems todays Super 8mm cameras will take a lot of the guesswork out of exposure with an electronic viewfinder.

Beaulieu 5008-S copy

Now this was the dogs bollocks of Super 8mm cameras a Beaulieu 5008.S (1974), Super 8 sound film professional movie SLR camera with C-mount interchangeable lens Schneider-Kreuznach-Optivaron 1,8/6-66mm. I do hope Kodak have not been stupid to exclude the use of these older Super 8mm cameras ?

Super_8_Round_412_Black copy

Kodak are also looking at a sound version which will be far more appealing to users who have grown up with video cameras, it also takes C mount lenses which might just start a craze for what has been a lens system fit for security cameras to date.

Technical specs…
FILM…SUPER 8 ( extended max-8 gate ) with 50FT (15M) cartridges

SPEED…variable speeds (9, 12, 18, 24, 25 FPS) all with crystal sync

LENS MOUNT…C-mount

FOCAL LENGTH…fixed  6 MM, 1:1.2 – ricoh lens (optional zoom 6-48 mm lens )

FOCUS / APERTURE…manual focus & iris

VIEWFINDER…3.5″ display that has a standard definition video input and supports swivel +/- 45 degrees

EXPOSURE…Manual exposure built-in light meter for supported speeds of all kodak film types. Manual speed / manual iris setting

Integrated battery and charger via standard USB wall adapter

Control panel via viewfinder 3,5″ TFT LCD

SETTINGS…Via jog wheel as user interface

Kodak side

So there you have it will Kodak revive Super 8mm film or will this be a damp squib, theres no doubt that a few “creatives” and the odd music “video” will be made with the new look Super 8mm cameras but the cost of the film, processing, telecine and cloud storage has made this new Super 8mm price prohibitive. Remember you still have to send it away so that might be 2 weeks ! The “cine camera” prototype leaves a lot to be desired, almost deliberately amateur by design as for its longevity only time will tell.

On a more positive note it will be interesting to see Super 8mm film as we have never seen it before, professionally telecine without the flickering !

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9 comments on this post

  1. Mark says:

    absurd. and embarrassing . They only have patents to sell. And they had the whole world in their hands both stills and motion. And they lost it because of incompetence and incompetence mixed with arrogance, but mostly incompetence. With stills the 14N was a revolution and they managed to screw it up like pros. How a pro can screw up things? Ask them , they know.

    HDW : Good old Mark straight in with the dagger !

  2. Ron Evans says:

    My first Super8 camera was a Chinon. Still have a Canon 814. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to go back to Super8 film.

    I striped film for sound in post and still have the system in the basement !!!

    With UHD cameras shooting 60P can’t see the value of Super8 film myself.

    HDW : Hi Ron, its a “look” and finally for all those craving for the ultimate film look you won’t get any closer than film itself. If it wasn’t so dear I would say the students would have loved this but at £35-£50 per 3.5 minutes film its too dear plus how long will you wait till its processed for download.

  3. Ron Evans says:

    Yes just the look. For training it is not what is needed as todays feature films use high end video cameras like RED, ALEXA or Sony. Kodak will need to support the rest of the image with editors and mag striping for Super8 film etc. Conversion to video results in all the usual issues that end up not looking anything like Super8 projected from a film projector because of conflicts in display refresh rates etc.

    So a bit like reproducing antiques for the enthusiast.

    I can understand making the film service available as there are lots of good Super8 cameras out there that still work just fine.

  4. Bernd says:

    75 Dollar per film would be considerably cheaper than shooting Super8 at the moment.
    Here in Germany there are quite a lot of film shooters and they pay about 40 Euro for the film cartridge (no matter which manufacturer or b/w or color) and the same amount for getting it processed. So less than 70 Euro for film, processing and even telecine as offered by Kodak isn’t too bad. Of course, like everything else, it costs more money than 40 years ago.

    HDW : Good to know Bernd.

  5. Brendan Deere says:

    Forgetting the cost of the camera/film – I do some 8mm film scanning and some of the films from 40 years ago still have high quality (for its frame size)images and of course have highly emotional attachments for their owners. For archival purposes (on a personal / family level) there is no other medium that can provide this – I doubt that video tape will (unless very carefully stored like film) will provide this and DVD-Rs etc. most certainly won’t.
    Also don’t forget that the Kodak system also involves a HD scan of the camera negative and I presume it doesn’t use positive film. Out of interest I was scanning a film for a client and came across shots of one my aunts (she was a teacher) in a school sports day from 50 years ago.

  6. antonio says:

    Lot of people are talking about nothing…maybe they forget that there is a reason if others deliberately use a super 8 camera…style first of all, poetry…it happena in music…why insist to use a piano if electronic keybords are light and inexpensive? why use upright basses if electric basses were invented in ’50’s?
    Be less practical please!

  7. David Doré says:

    I see that Frame 24 offers a similar package for 16mm film stock @ £175 per 400′ roll. As this includes a TK it is certainly cheaper than we were paying in the 1980s when a 400′ roll of Eastman Color was £80 and lab costs for process were about the same… so £160 without the TK… and that was at 1980 values. So, if you still have your old 16mm camera you can start shooting film again. However, I think I’ll stick with digital acquisition!

  8. Chris Gibbs says:

    Pity Kodak didn’t continue on with their ‘digital film’ research. A ‘digital cartridge’ that converts old analogue cameras to digital would be far more appealing, this feels ‘back-asswards.’

  9. I invested the first 8 years of my career at Kodak targeted on extremely 8 film movie. It was 1980 when Kodak ceased selling extremely 8 cameras. I must say that it have high end digicam concentrating on style more than functions.

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