Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing
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Thread: Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing

  1. #1

    Smile Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing

    Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing
    Hello there!

    I am looking into buying a super 8 camera and film to just film things as a hobby. I know very little about film and cameras other than the digital photography class I took in my college and that was for photo cameras, not video cameras. After I figure it out I would like to film my vacations with my girlfriend with it. The only thing I cannot figure out in doing my research is what the differences in all of the different cameras available are and the differences in all of the films needed. I think I read most cartridges are something like only 2 and a half minutes long? So I need to buy a big stock pile of them? And does it matter which cartridge I buy? Is there a universally safe one to pick? I do not have a lot of money. At all. lol. So I'm not looking for high quality or top of the line stuff here. Do I need special equipment to be able to watch these cartridges once filmed? Or to merge them all together somehow? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Re: Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing

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    Need help, starting up super 8 and I have no idea what I am doing
    Is there a specific reason you want to get into Super 8 filmmaking? Super 8 is a great format, and I love it, but if you aren't into it for its aesthetic effects or don't even fully understand the difference between film and video (which it sounds like you don't), what you are looking for might be a camcorder or other type of video camera. Any type of analog filmmaking is not for those with no money. When I have no money (which is often), I just can't shoot film. Not only do you pay for the film (which is ~3 minutes per cartridge for a similar price as a 60-minute miniDV cassette for a camcorder), but you also pay for processing and possibly a digital transfer unless you do these yourself (but you'll still need to pay for chemistry, a projector, and... a digital camcorder to film the footage.) If you just want to record your girlfriend's vacation to have the memories, you probably want video.

    Getting past all that, if you just genuinely like the look of small gauge film, then Super 8 is your best option. Its cartridges are very simple to load, it's the cheapest and most common small gauge film available, and it's just fun to use. You can often find decent cameras at thrift stores, though for the nicer ones you'll probably want to buy online by eBay or maybe craigslist if you get lucky. My very favorite camera is the Canon 1014XL-S (or the 814XL-S) but this isn't really a beginner's camera. A regular Canon 814 is a little simpler and it's very nice. However, if you don't have a couple hundred to throw down, you'll probably want to hit up thrift stores.

    Once you have your camera, you'll want to think about film stock. For color reversal stock you have Ektachrome 100D, and for black and white reversal you have Tri-X and Plus-X. Expect to pay between $7-$12 a cartridge depending on where you buy from and what type of film you're getting. Yes, that's $7-$12 for 3 minutes of film and that does not include the processing. Also note that you need a good amount of light for this film-- it's not like video where you can shoot in low light and just get a dimmer image. Once you've shot you will need to send your film away (or hand-process it, but that's probably not for a beginner) which will cost probably about $6-$10 per roll plus shipping (this might be a little off... I haven't sent out film in a long time. I hand process most of mine.) Then, when you get it back, if you haven't opted for a telecine/digital transfer, you'll have one or more reels loaded with film. You'll need a projector to play these back, and if you want to do any manual editing you'll need a splicer and a viewer. I enjoy all the steps of this process and it's very fulfilling, but it is a somewhat involved hobby and it's not the best option if you just want a cheap way to record events in your life. It is definitely the cheapest option when it comes to actual film, but video will be vastly cheaper in the end even if you throw down a good amount of money for a decent camera.

    Hope this helps!


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