January 6, 2016

Kodak Wants to Revive Super 8mm Film with a New Camera

Kodak Super 8mm Camera Concept 1
Remember Super 8mm film?

While some of you are still shooting a few rolls here and there, the format that was once synonymous with home movies might just be making a comeback 50 years after Kodak made their first camera. With analog formats getting a new lease on life lately, including film, Kodak is pushing forward with a brand new Super 8mm camera — one that combines analog film with the ease of shooting on digital, like the addition of a flip out LCD screen for shooting (rather than an optical viewfinder), and other digital connections on the back. According to the Wall Street Journal, this model will cost between $400 and $750, but a much cheaper model will be coming out in 2017:

The first new Super 8, expected to arrive in a limited-edition version in the fall of 2016, was conceived with help from the industrial designer Yves Behar. It is likely to cost between $400 to $750, Mr. Clarke estimated. Processing the film should cost $50 to $75 a cartridge, he said.

Kodak Super 8mm Camera Black and White Hero
Kodak Super_8_LCD_Black

Specifications

  • Film Gauge: Super 8 (Extended Max-8 Gauge)
  • Film Load: Kodak Cartridges with 50ft (15m)
  • Variable Speed (9, 12, 18, 24, 25 fps) all with Crystal Sync
  • Mount: C-Mount
  • Fixed Ricoh 6mm 1.2, Optional 8-48mm Zoom Lens
  • Manual Focus and Iris
  • Viewfinder: 3.5" Display with Standard Definition Input & Swivels +/- 45 Degrees
  • Exposure Control: Built-in Light Meter for Supported Speeds of All Kodak Film Types, Manual Speed/Iris Settings
  • Integrated Battery and Charger via Standard USB Wall Adapter
  • Integrated Microphone
  • Control Panel: Via 3.5" TFT LCD
  • Settings: Jog Wheel As User Interface
  • Price: First Limited Edition — $400 - $750, Cheap Version Coming Later
Kodak Super_8_Round_412_Black Audio
Kodak Super 8mm Camera Loading Film

The company has certainly seen a steady stream of filmmakers choose film over the last few years since they left bankruptcy, but this has mostly been at the high end with the much more expensive 35mm or crazy-expensive 65mm (in the case of IMAX and filmmakers like Quention Tarantino). Super 8mm film doesn't quite give you the running time of those formats based on the cartridge system (a 50 foot cartridge is only around 2.5 minutes), but for most people just trying to experiment with the format this won't be a problem, especially since filmmakers have been shooting on wind-up Bolex 16mm cameras that only give you around 30 seconds maximum per shot.

Kodak Super_8_Accessory_White_Pistol Grip.jpg

Buy Film, Processing, and Digital Transfer in One Step

Here's where things will get a lot more simple though with Kodak's plan. While Super 8mm processing is getting harder to find and more expensive, Kodak is apparently planning to offer services to process the film themselves and give you a digital file. It's unclear what kind of scan they'd be doing, or whether it's just a simple telecine, but a lot of this plan makes sense, as many people would like to experiment with film, but they don't want the complications that come with trying to get it back in a digital form. Here's more from them on that:

Shooting Analogue has never been so easy. When you purchase film you will be buying the film, processing and digital transfer. The lab will send you your developed film back and email you a password to retrieve your digital scans from the cloud so you can edit and share in any way you choose.

Kodak Super 8mm Film Process Plan

It will be interesting whether they do offer a 2K log scan to get the most out of the film, or maybe there will even be options for a 4K scan, which is beyond the limit of what Super 8mm can resolve (but film formats are usually scanned at higher than intended resolutions to avoid aliasing — like scanning 35mm at 6K). Here's  of Pro8mm talking about a 4K scan:

That's going to decide whether this new venture succeeds. If Kodak can make it really easy to send in rolls of film (and Super 8mm is already simple to load into the camera), then they'll get plenty of people trying it out who might otherwise not have — and there's a good chance they'll bring out the nostalgia in folks who used to use the format as a kid, and might want to try it out a few more times. 

Processing has actually been the bigger issue for years with so many labs closing, and if Kodak can keep the processing/digitizing costs down — Super 8mm is already relatively inexpensive enough (under $50 for a 50' cartridge) that I could see it making a comeback. According to their plan, they'll be including the processing/scanning if you buy the film from them. We've seen a big jump in analog formats over the last few years as folks jump on products like the medium format Holga or Impossible Project's new instant film "Polaroid" technology. It wouldn't be a stretch to think these same people might want to try out motion picture film if the processing is simple.

This isn't the first time we've seen people try to bring the format into the digital age, as the recent Logmar Super 8mm camera that we've written about a few times combines the best of digital and Super 8mm, doing many things Kodak plans to do with their camera:

Here's some footage shot with the Logmar camera and scanned to give you the entire negative:

What Some of the Biggest Filmmakers are Saying

There are also no shortage of big Hollywood filmmakers who are behind this decision, like Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams, not only for the film reasons, but also the nostalgia reasons:

At 7 years old, director and producer Christopher Nolan began making short movies with his father’s Super 8 camera. "The news that Kodak is enabling the next generation of filmmakers with access to an upgraded and enhanced version of the same analog technology that first made me fall in love with cinematic storytelling is unbelievably exciting,” said Nolan.

"For me, 8mm was the beginning of everything,” said Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg. “When I think of 8mm, I think of the movies.”

“While any technology that allows for visual storytelling must be embraced, nothing beats film,” said JJ Abrams, writer and director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. "The fact that Kodak is building a brand new Super 8 camera is a dream come true. With a gorgeous new design, interchangeable lenses and a brilliant scheme for development and delivery of footage, this camera appears to be the perfect bridge between the efficiency of the digital world and the warmth and quality of analog.”

While hobbyists and filmmakers will make up some portion of this market, Kodak is hoping that a big supporter will be film schools, especially those that no longer offer film. By making the process as simple and as inexpensive as possible, and by making the tools easy to use, Kodak is hoping they can get film in the hands of people who might not otherwise have ever shot on it — and maybe convert a few along the way who will choose film on bigger projects when they have the budget.

It also seems as if they've got two slightly different versions, or one of these is the cheaper mass-market version that will come out later:

Kodak Super 8mm Camera Round vs Square White Side 1

I'm sure we're going to get many more details as we come closer to release, but in the meantime, you can check out Kodak's Super 8 camera site here.      

Your Comment

55 Comments

thanks for the post. definitely looking forward to getting my hands on one of these. I really hope they do variable frame options (ideally something 60fps +) for experimenting.

January 6, 2016 at 10:39PM

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Alex Mallis
Director / DP / Editor
207

Frame rates are going to be 9, 12, 18, 24, and 25.

January 6, 2016 at 10:53PM

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Jacob Floyd
Writer / Videographer
1235

Those cameras look like shÌt tho, especially for the money. I don't know about anyone else, but I like a real eyepiece viewfinder in my film camera.

I do like that they're essentially propaganda for Super 8, hopefully the shtick might just work. However you want a real camera to shoot that Super 8 in, not one of those. Fortunately you can get really good Super 8 cameras for peanuts today. If you're considering shooting Super 8, I suggest getting a camera now before the hype jacks up prices.

January 7, 2016 at 8:15PM, Edited January 7, 8:15PM

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Vidrazor
217

For how many people is it a dream come true?

January 6, 2016 at 10:42PM

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It is a dream come true for me. I hope Arri & Aaton come out with new cameras as well for the Super 16 shooters. It's been risky to invest in a Super 16 camera because there are no spare parts for them. Hopefully after Kodak's announcement some other companies like Arri & Aaton will see that we want to shoot film. Congratulations on your 8k 5D MarkVIII by the way.

January 7, 2016 at 4:43AM

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Ruben arce
Student
164

Oh, I see, sarcasm.

By the time Cannon gets to 8K it will be a MarkX. Correcting your math. ;-)

A dream come true: 8K on a 70mm sensor, with 20 stops, 16bit color, can do 120fps, and is affordable. This won't be Cannon.

January 7, 2016 at 9:59AM, Edited January 7, 10:33AM

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When I saw this link on Facebook I thought it was an article from The Onion at first because the accompanying text was "Kodak unveils the prototype for their new digital Super 8 camera that shoots on film." Obviously I did not understand the tech.

January 6, 2016 at 11:38PM, Edited January 6, 11:41PM

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Ian Mora
Writer, Director, Editor, Camera Operator
199

I'm not fussed about the new camera. For me the key to bringing super 8 back out of the dark is minimizing the complication and expense of processing. If you could send in your cartridges and get back a good digital version for one reasonable price, I'd shoot super 8 again for certain projects, like music videos or as additional footage for live events. But, if you have to pay $50 for the cartridge and more than $50 for the processing for 2.5 minutes of footage, there aren't going to be many 7 year old potential future Christopher Nolans using super 8. I hope they can find a way to make it much cheaper. It certainly is fun and rewarding to use.

January 6, 2016 at 11:50PM, Edited January 6, 11:50PM

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I love analog film, and I'm glad they're still making stock, but it's not like there's a big shortage of functional super 8 cameras on the market. They're like 20 bucks on eBay or at the antique store.

January 6, 2016 at 11:56PM

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Most of those cheap cameras aren't crystal synced though. If you're using Super 8 for a client project, then you'll actually need to spend some real money to get a reliable camera that has the right features.

January 7, 2016 at 1:27PM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
941

It's the right idea, making it easier to get film processing. Ideally, there would be a simple home processing system. Keyword: Simple. That being said, as someone that enjoys digital, I would play with one of these cameras.

January 7, 2016 at 12:19AM

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Zach Zoller
Director
74

This may be the perfect time to start creating fake archival footage to order.

January 7, 2016 at 12:45AM, Edited January 7, 12:45AM

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Dean Mermell
Filmish Person
132

This looks really fun. I can't wait to play with one.

January 7, 2016 at 1:27AM

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Frank
321

Kodak wants to revive a dead goldfish by electrocuting her aquarium?

Sure, go right ahead!

PS I wanna be a fly on the wall during their new product discussion meetings :/

January 7, 2016 at 1:41AM, Edited January 7, 1:41AM

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Alex Zakrividoroga
Director
3809

WHY..............?

January 7, 2016 at 5:42AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
823

Yesterday, before I fall asleep I promised myself that I had eventually stopped buying equipment for a while...resulting in waking up and get punched in the face by this news... Damn it!!!

January 7, 2016 at 5:43AM

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Alberto
11

It didn't really feel like a punch, did it? Was it like a punch from a girl where they put their thumb inside the fist, and then it hurts their thumb? Kodak might feel some hurt from hanging on to film so much.

January 7, 2016 at 10:16AM

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This is merely a product of nostalgia. I don't really see a point for coming up with a new Super8 camera (in 2016!!!) other than making money out of some "Vintage Stuff's Cool" fad. I'd prefer to focus in new products that actually push the industry forwards. Anyway, this might sell well, sadly.

January 7, 2016 at 6:26AM

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I'm half with you – I also don't see a point in releasing a new Super 8 camera when all the old, beautifully crafted machines from yesteryear still function perfectly. Equipment was built to last back then. Kodak are essentially making this camera to draw attention to their existing processing and telecine services.

January 7, 2016 at 9:27AM

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Jake H. Harris
Filmmaker
108

Do super 16mm and i'm game. Also, I'm hoping for an affordable film scanner so one can digitize it the way it pleases his/her soul. Digital was necessary to make film affordable...

January 7, 2016 at 7:29AM

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Jaia papitz
Titless
36

lol

January 7, 2016 at 9:58AM

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I'm excited to hear more about this camera the closer it comes to the release date. I still shoot on 35mm SLR's mostly for nostalgia's sake - but also because I am thoroughly convinced it furthers my skills as a filmmaker as well.

I've been wanting to shoot on 8mm for a couple short films I have rolling around in the noggin. Maybe I'll purchase one for the sake of supporting Kodak. I'd love to see 8mm make a comeback.

January 7, 2016 at 11:29AM, Edited January 7, 11:29AM

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Alex Bolen
Cinematographer
88

The Logmar camera sounded pretty good. I'm not sure what the status currently is.

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/12/logmar-super-8-first-8mm-camera-in-over-...

January 7, 2016 at 12:13PM, Edited January 7, 12:13PM

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I don't get it. I started on 8mm but I don't get why one would want to subject themselves to the expense and inconvenience of film now we have loads of other options. Is it a matter of too many people with way too much money to blow? The move to digital has been wonderful and I cannot see this as anything other than a step backwards. They're utterly ugly too in my opinion

January 7, 2016 at 1:01PM

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Paul Gee
Filmmaker
86

It's about creating with an organic aesthetic – shooting films on materials that can be physically held, cut and projected and aren't just 0's and 1's on a hard drive. Younger generations in particular who grew up in a digital environment are attracted to these qualities. But if you started on 8mm and only value that world as a passé extravagance – and not as an engaging experience of unique beauty and qualities, then I'm surprised to find you commenting on this article at all.

January 7, 2016 at 6:57PM, Edited January 7, 7:07PM

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Jake H. Harris
Filmmaker
108

This whole thing is bookended by 1's and 0's. A flip out monitor that requires a digital sensor... to bypass so you can expose the film and then digitize it before you ever see it. Who is really going to hold or cut 8mm film that doesn't already have an old camera and a relationship with pro8mm?

January 8, 2016 at 12:43PM

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Gordon Byrd
Owner, Byrd Pictures
202

Let's see we have the Alexa, The Red, Drones, GoPros & the Sony A7s... & here comes just what we need now, a throwback to the middle of the last century... A New 8mm Camera!

I can't believe that some filmmakers are still wallowing in "film" nostalgia! It's 2016 Move On! Personally, I can not believe that Kodak is offering just what every young low-to-no budget filmmaker needs! To pay Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for 2 & 1/2 minutes of 8mm film, when anyone can shoot 2K or 4K for hours on their HD camera's memory card and download it directly into their hard drives, computer or non linear editing software...

Quit looking backwards it's gone, it's past & it's not coming back... Look Forward!
It took "film" 100 years to go from a sensitivity of ASA 5 to ASA 800! 100 Years!!! In just the first 15 years of this century HD has gone from a sensitivity of ISO 1000 to over 100,000 to over 4,000,000! IN JUST THE FIRST 15 YEARS Of THIS CENTURY!!!
All of you had better jump on this bullet train to the future or it's going to leave you behind or run you over! Fine by me... Today it's survival of the smartest!

But don't listen to me watch the documentary Side By Side, you can stream it on Netflix and listen to Fincher, Soderbergh, Lucas, Cameron, Scorsese, Lynch etc etc etc...

David Worth, DP: Bronco Billy, Bloodsport, China Cry

January 7, 2016 at 1:07PM, Edited January 7, 1:07PM

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David Worth
Director / DP / Author / Professor
22

>HD has gone from a sensitivity of ISO 1000 to over 100,000 to over 4,000,000!

B-b-b-but it still looks like shit!
*puts TarantiNolan hat off*

January 7, 2016 at 2:58PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
907

You're joking. But some people might not catch that.

January 7, 2016 at 8:57PM

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a fellow DP, Roger Deakins, doesn't flinch to leave film and use digital. He actually likes digital because he sees what he shot right away.

He starts talking about it at about 9:30 of this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfYeS_20dXo

January 7, 2016 at 8:25PM, Edited January 7, 9:24PM

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If it was 16mm (or even 35mm) I would be in.
But 8mm is too artistic for my taste.

January 7, 2016 at 1:22PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
652

WANT..

January 7, 2016 at 2:25PM, Edited January 7, 2:25PM

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So it's $50 dollars for every 2.5 minutes of film you need processed?

January 7, 2016 at 3:56PM, Edited January 7, 3:56PM

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Yes, that's what they said.

So, 90 minute movie (without any editing) = 36 cartridges @ $50.00 ea., comes out to $1800.00.

It could cost as much as $75.00 each cartridge.

Too bad you can't erase and format celluloid.

January 7, 2016 at 8:12PM, Edited January 7, 8:35PM

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Yeah, that's gonna happen (sarc)

January 7, 2016 at 8:37PM

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P41
107

Who knows how they'll break down the cost but, according to the 2015 Kodak Price Catalog, the Super 8 cartridge alone costs $25.96. So, you'd be paying $25 for the processing, scanning and digital/physical delivery of those 2.5 minutes. $500 gets you 25 minutes of filming.

For clients with deeper pockets, that's not a whole lot of extra money to get even 3-5 minutes worth of unique footage. With careful planning and rehearsal, 25 minutes is longer than you think. I saw an amazing 8mm film festival entry that was intricately shot in the order of the edit, including a fight scene, on a single 2.5 minute cartridge.

January 7, 2016 at 8:59PM

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But I think what some are trying to get across is what kind of memory cards could you get for $500.00, that could be erased and formated, to be used again and again?

January 7, 2016 at 9:27PM

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Yeah Kevin, I get that. But, I don't think Kodak expects people to run out and sell their T3is, BMCCs, C100s, FS7s, etc., and replace them with this camera. It's an additional investment/tool for when you want something this format can more authentically deliver that those other cameras can't.

Music recording studios routinely have a mixture of solid state, tube, digital and analog gear. It's common for better equipped studios to have a bunch of $100 SM57s as well as one or two $3-5K tube mics. They use the one that best suits the task at hand.

Digital doesn't mean we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Digital cinema is still chasing that film look to some extent. This camera gives people an opportunity to get a particular film aesthetic, from actual film, without breaking the bank. If we can, what's wrong with having both?

January 7, 2016 at 10:15PM, Edited January 7, 10:59PM

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I never intended to mean we can't have both.

The film in this camera is cost prohibitive for most people, even shocking.

I know film has a special place with some people. I can see this camera is making them happy. I hope they have many enjoyable moments with it.

January 7, 2016 at 10:50PM, Edited January 7, 10:51PM

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Kevin, I wasn't suggesting you, specifically, meant we can't have both. It was a general question aimed at the people who think film versus digital is an actual competition and not an artistic or economic decision.

As for the Super 8 media being cost prohibitive, it's no more so than shooting uncompressed raw on an Alexa SXT. For those projects on which that's overkill, they shoot ProRes. Those projects that can't afford an Alexa at all shoot something cheaper. It's not rocket science.

This camera is clearly not intended for no-budget projects or people who have no viable business plan. It's a specialty or boutique item that costs accordingly. However, the extra cost becomes much less of an issue once the budget reaches just a few thousand dollars, depending on how you use it.

January 8, 2016 at 4:04PM, Edited January 8, 4:05PM

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Most movies could be shot on a GH2 Hacked and no one would even know if a Red, an Arri, a Sony, or whatever, was used, or make effort to care.

January 9, 2016 at 2:40AM

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I'm not so sure but, for the sake of argument, let's say you're right. That's not really how artists operate is it? Although it's not always apparent from reading some of the comments on this site (or many others), cinematography is an art form. The artist determines the tools and the medium, not the audience. We should try not to forget that.

Yes, there comes a point of diminishing returns where pragmatism and practicality begin to play a role. I get your meaning and a great cinematographer will make a hacked GH2 sing. But, how many of them would choose it because it's the best tool to tell the story versus it being all that's available?

Luckily, there are plenty of options and Kodak just announced another one.

January 9, 2016 at 7:05AM

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A lot of people are stuck with the lowest cost things available. Making low priced things 'sing' might be a true mark of an artist too. A GH2 Hacked can fool people that it's an Arri Alexa.

By the way, I sure would love to own a Kinemax 6K, a Red 8K, and all the best lenses, tripods, lights, and memory cards made. But for now, I have to use my Nikon and Sony. They both make a great picture though. An d I'm happy

$50.00 for 2 1/2 minutes of film? Can't even entertain to idea.

A Red Raven, or an AJA Cion 4K, those ideas can be entertained.

January 9, 2016 at 12:22PM, Edited January 9, 12:32PM

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I love how some of you are angered, embittered or offended by options...and how you don't seem to know the difference between optional and mandatory. Like everything else, Super 8 has an aesthetic that some may find desirable for certain projects.

We're used to seeing it the way it was traditionally used, in the amateurish home video or retro, purposely grungy styles. High production value and very accessible tools like Resolve and the Adobe suite mean it has the potential to look better than it ever has. Why that constitutes a personal affront to some of you is beyond me.

January 7, 2016 at 6:29PM, Edited January 7, 6:29PM

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This.

January 8, 2016 at 12:37AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
941

Maybe Kodak should look back and see why they failed and nearly out of business.... Look at that camera... you can't make it anymore uglier than that. They must have 10 year old kids designing this product.

Second, what is the point shooting on film, does anyone understand the AUDIENCE don't give a shit and would never know ?

Well good luck with that venture.

January 7, 2016 at 8:33PM, Edited January 7, 8:36PM

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P41
107

Instead of losing shots between hard drives, we can go back to losing them in the mail.

January 8, 2016 at 12:11AM, Edited January 8, 12:11AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
377

GH3+FD 50MM 1.8+ stack of ND filters (for outdoors)= "FILM LOOK"!
I shot a 10 min doc back in the 70's. By time all was said and done....the cost was $1200 in 70's cash. 6;1 shooting ratio.

January 8, 2016 at 5:33AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
823

I'm not trying to convince anyone to do anything they don't want or can't afford to do. However, the videos below are compelling enough to at least entertain the thought of offering Super 8 as an option to your clients or using it in your own projects, despite the price. Look at it this way - it has global shutter.

Hey Joe, I think these clips are among the best examples of what Super 8 is capable of. This degree of quality came from 10 bit 1080p scans. Maybe consider adding a few to the body of the story:

https://vimeo.com/151039483
https://vimeo.com/111938532
https://vimeo.com/61530553
https://vimeo.com/126950306
https://vimeo.com/62389177

January 8, 2016 at 5:38PM, Edited January 8, 6:31PM

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Well, I shot on Super 8 and 16 mm in film school. It was expensive, very expensive.

As much as I like film, I like the idea of being able to afford to shoot something without having to fork over a kidney.

I'm personally very excited that video now looks like film and has brought the cost of production down.

January 9, 2016 at 1:15PM, Edited January 9, 1:15PM

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To everyone saying "just get an old Super 8 camera."

First up, the new camera uses the "Max 8" aperture which captures a widescreen image instead of a 4:3 one by using the film area that used to be set aside for the soundstrip. If you want widescreen Super 8, an old camera won't cut it.

Second, most vintage Super 8 cameras aren't entirely compatible with modern film stocks. If you get an old camera capable of reading all of the film speeds Kodak offers, you're likely still gonna be paying in the triple digits.

Third, this camera's got interchangeable lenses. Good luck finding that on an old camera.

Fourth, Logmar's camera is pretty much the same thing but it goes for over $6,000. Even at the highest end of Kodak's price estimate, that's still less than 1/8 the cost of the competition.

January 18, 2016 at 3:23PM, Edited January 18, 3:23PM

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Shooting film for 44 years, at that price and no reversal sound film they are FN stupid

February 2, 2016 at 4:49PM

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Shooting film for 44 Years, with no reversal sound film,and at that price
they are FN STUPID

February 2, 2016 at 4:57PM

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Test

February 2, 2016 at 4:59PM

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Maxed out Super8, and the revolutionary near steadiness of PIN REGISTRATION; I am assured by the designers, with all the beauty of the silver screen, grain size to you and me. Coupled with stereo crystal sync sound and a video output like the LOGMAR; but they show an HDMI connector! Get a lab archive in the mail and a transfer by email. WOW, WHATS NOT TO LUV???

March 2, 2016 at 7:32AM

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