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Sharpest Super 8 Camera and/or Lens.

Matthew Buick

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I found this at Filmshooting.com forums:

From sharpest to softest:

Prime lenses (Leitz 1.8/10mm on Leicina Special, Switars on H8, 6mm computar)

ANGENIEUX Macro 1.2/6-80 & ANGENIEUX Macro 1.2/6-90 (BEAULIEU ZM2,Bauer S 715XL, 5008S, 6008Pro)

ZEISS Vario Sonnar 1.9/9-36mm (MOVIEFLEX MS8)

SCHNEIDER Macro Optivaron 1.8/6-66mm (BEAULIEU 4008 ZM2/3, 5008s, LEICINA SPECIAL)

NIKKOR Macro 1.4/7-70mm (NIKON R10)

ANGENIEUX 1.9/8-64mm (BEAULIEU 2008, 4008ZM/2)

SCHNEIDER Macro Optivaron 1.4/6-70mm (BEAULIEU ZM4, 5008MS, 6/7/9008)

CANON Macro 1.4/7-56mm (CANON 814XLS)

CANON Macro 1.4/6.5-65mm (CANON 1014XLS) : with : BAUER Macro Neovaron 1.2/6-51mm (BAUER S709XL)

ANGENIEUX Macro 1.4/6-90mm (BEAULIEU 6/7/9008, BAUER S715XL)

CHINON 1.8/6-72mm (CHINON 12SMR)

CANON 1.4/7.5-60mm (CANON DS8)

MINOLTA Rokkor 1.8/7-70mm (MINOLTA D10)

CANON C8 1.8/9.5-47.5mm (CANON 518)

CANON 1.4/7.5-60mm (CANON 814E) ( same that CANON DS8 ???)

CANON Macro 1.4/9-45mm (CANON 514XL)

ELMO Macro 1.2/7.5-75mm (ELMO 1012XLS)

SANKYO 1.2/8.5-35mm (SANKYO ES44XL)

SCHNEIDER Macro Variogon 1.8/7-80mm (NIZO PRO, 801Macro)

SCHNEIDER Macro Variogon 1.7/7-56mm (NIZO 2056, 3056, 4056)

SCHNEIDER Macro Variogon 1.4/7-80mm (NIZO 4080, 6080)

SCHNEIDER Variogon 1.8/7-80mm (NIZO S800, S801)

SANKYO 1,8 /7,5-60 mm (SANKYO CM800)

CANON 1.0/8.5-25.5mm (CANON 310 XL,XLS,XLS AF)

Vario 1.9/9-30mm (EUMIG MINI3, BOLEX 233)

T55 2.4/12mm (LOMO AURORA 218, 219) : Plastic, S8 camera dream for DIANA users !

Edited by Sander Ferdinand
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Hi, ok, so i've messed with a few cameras over the years, bauer 709,715, beaulieu 4008s, canon 310 up to 1014xls, eumigs, elmo and the odd nizo. Never used a nikon r10, seen results projected and they were extremely sharp. Sharpest super 8 (cartridge) images i've obtained are thru the 10mm cinegon and leicina special, sharpest super 8 zoom is the 6-66 schneider, another sharp lens is the 9-36 vario sonner on the zeiss ms8. Schneider 6-70 fitted to my 7008 pro is not as good as the 6-66, ang 6-80 is a wonderful lens, 64t for some reason looks terrific with the 6-80. The best looking and sharpest, clearest almost 3d looking images i have obtained have been with a bolex ds-8 with 5.5, 12.5 and 36mm primes, exposed using k25.


1st place bolex ds-8 and primes

2nd leicina special 10mm cinegon

3rd leicina special 6-66 and 4008zm2 with 6-66

4th zeiss 9-36

5th 7008s with 6-80


sorry to bore you!!!!!

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Actually, I finally find time to honour my promise and post the ranked list of Super 8 cameras that several colleagues and myself established through extensive testing a while back. The purpose was to find out which Super 8 cameras were most ideally suited for http://timtyler.net/JBSX/files/redirect.asp?b=8serious production purposes in the Super 8 format. We established a couple of criteria for that purpose along which we intended to rank the potentially most suitable cameras accordingly.


Unlike what most might think, this cannot just be all about 'sharpness'. Why? Discussing sharpness is a fuzzy topic. There are so many parameters that determine every "real-life" shot: light condition, shutter opening angle, aperture, exposure time, film pressure and flatness, frame stability and frame variance, mechanical transportation and registration, and film development. Even when boiling it down to camera-mechanical excellence body-wise and optical resolving power lens-wise, it's still virtually impossible to come up with a definitive answer about 'sharpness' as determined by visual impressions from a presentation.


What we hence additionally looked at was the overall package that the camera provided.

Sure, the camera should actually have outstanding optical capabilities and possess excellent camera mechanics that qualify for uncompromising projection and broadcasting purposes; in other words: get the maximum out of the resolution of Super 8 film material, especially the brilliant current film stocks from the Vision2- or X-series.

However, we also considered equally important issues such as ergonomics, design, functionality, short- and long-term reliability, as well as construction intent and achievement of the camera package. We also looked at the usual features, as well as those truly unique and special functions not found on any other camera. While the latter might sound a bit antiquated in times when even things as simple as fade-outs are done digitally "in post", we thought we would honour the venerable school of thought around cinematographically achieving as much as possible "in-camera", because...

?firstly: this reflects on the cinematographer's true craftship and cinematic, optomechanical and artistic knowledge.

?second: cameras from the 1960s to 1980s in both 16mm and 8mm did offer so many in-camera means that are mostly lost now or have been replaced with electronic gimmickry, so why not value those capabilities of "olden times" when you have them at one's disposal, as?

?leaving this aspect out would not be contemporary to what these cameras originally set out to be!

We also wanted to question the usual notions of "newer glass" being necessarily better than "older glass", and "big-brand long-zooms = 'superb lens'" ? because actually, quite the contrary is correct: Super 8 vario lenses from the time period of the "Super 8 Zoom Wars" from the late 1970s onwards with their megalomanic approach to focal range and their sheer amount and number of (moving) glass elements, such as those by Angénieux and Schneider suffered from serious quality deficits that troubled especially late-generation Beaulieu and Nizo sound cameras. Otherwise, the somewhat grotesque Schneider Beaulieu-Variogon 1:1,8 / 6-180mm would be the best Super 8 vario lens ever (don't click away to eBay just yet, as there were only a few prototypes made for the Photokina fair that dubiously found their way into private hands ? it was never officially mass-sold, to my knowledge).


For this project, we shot nearly a hundred cartridges for the testing of film stocks and cameras of various make and age. The film stock tests were shot over several days with parallel set-ups in France's Provence during a beautiful lavender summer, while the camera tests were shot in a gloriously obscure backyard in the middle of Germany's Nowhereville, as controlled as possible over three hours with parallel set-ups.

The camera tests were shot on Kodak Kodachrome 40 T (7268), while the film stock tests comprised the Vision, Vision2 and X-series, various Ektachrome and Velvia color reversal films and even a daylight reel of K-25 in the Beaulieu SD8/60 magazine. All film stocks used were cold-stored or fresh and came from the same batches (sponsored by Kodak and private donors).

The cameras used had received prior regular CLA (cleaned, lubricated, adjusted/collimated) over years (proved by supplied paperwork) and were checked again beforehand. Most gear came from elderly German-speaking (D-A-CH) ladies and gentlemen who were all to happy to comply with the request to have their beloved machinery put to good use. Additional gear came supplied from some fellow filmmakers.


The exposed and Andec-/Kodak-developed films were then projected up to 16ft wide in a screening room, originally in Berlin, with additional ones for controlling purposes in Davos plus in our film group's premises in Basel (to triple-check with personal films and equipment).

The results were evaluated, discussed and put to paper in form of a collective panel debate. Please bear in mind that although the project members had set-up objective criteria, the panel's evaluations and discussions were of course purely subjective and at times controversial. I recall trouble surrounding the Canon 814XL-S and Canon 1014XL-S. And in case of the Nizo sound cameras, we actually had to ask a fellow filmmaker who owns an entire flock of Nizos to bring in additional footage from one of her film projects she just wrapped in Jordan and Lebanon to get an additional outside perspectives in. Otherwise, we would not have stopped shouting at each other.


I hence know that discussing any gear, especially cameras, can be a potentially heated topic as many cameras have real love/hate-fandoms here in the "cloud" that are entrenched along the lines of the "Nizo/Bauer/Beaulieu-Bandwagon" vs "Japanozoom-Fighter".

Some results might be shocking to some (they were to us), but actually they are in line with an informal poll on "the other forum" (see a few posts earlier in this thread) , and more reliably with a series of texts and discussions with Dr Carl-Hellmuth Hoefer in which he concludes with near-similar results based on this decades of experience as "The Super 8 Doctor" (met the guy in Davos, quite a sympathetic chap).


Although our results might spark a trench-warfare debate nevertheless, this is something I want to avoid and will not participate in, because I have no time for this sort of discussion. So in order to make sure no one feels that her or his beloved camera was wrongly bashed, I decided to write a white paper and a series of articles about the leading cameras.

The article series will follow the camera list from top-to-bottom and is getting published from the next issue onwards in Chris Cottrill's Super 8 Today magazine. It will be serialised over four issues originally (covering the top four cameras), but the next camera articles are already finished and will probably be published there as well ? Chris was quite enthusiastic about it, and we are working hard to get some great photography for the forthfollowing issues.

The white paper ? out of respect for Chris' venture and the risk he takes with his great magazine ? will only be made available as a very simple PDF from my currently-under-construction website here from the 25 December 2007 onwards.

The texts will take the form of a camera review. They intend to give some historical background and context for each camera, review and compare it with others, give critique of some fundamental flaws to-watch-out, praise what makes them unique etc. You get the picture?


So let's get to that Top 30 list, shall we?


Beaulieu 4008 ZM II with

Schneider Beaulieu-Optivaron 1:1,8 / 6-66mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu Reglomatic


Leitz Leicina Special with

Schneider Leicina-Optivaron 1:1,8 / 6-66mm (M-Mount) with Leitz Leicinamatic


Angénieux f/1,2 | T/1,4-2,1 / 6-80mm (C-Mount)

for Beaulieu 4008 and 5008-series


Bauer A 512 with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,8 / 6-70mm


Nizo professional with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,8 / 7-80mm


Canon 814XL-S with

Canon Macro 1:1,4 / 7-56mm


Canon 1014 XL-S with

Canon Macro 1:1,4 / 6,5-65mm


Beaulieu 9008 Quartz-Pro with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit II


Beaulieu 9008 Quartz-S with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit II


Beaulieu 7008 Pro II with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit


Beaulieu 9008-models with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit


Beaulieu 7008-models with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit


Beaulieu 4008 ZM IV with

Schneider Beaulieu-Optivaron 1:1,4 / 6-70mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu Reglomatic


Beaulieu 6008-models with

Schneider Beaulieu-Optivaron 1:1,4 / 6-70mm (C-Mount) with Beaulieu LensControlUnit


Angénieux 1:1,9 / 8-64mm (C-Mount)

for Beaulieu 2008 and 4008-series (pre-ZM II)


Nizo 801 (macro) with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,8 / 7-80mm


Nikon R10 with

Nikon Cine-Nikkor 1:1,4 / 7-70mm


Canon Auto Zoom 1014 Electronic with

Canon Macro 1:1,4 / 7-70mm


Nizo 6056 with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,4 / 7-56mm


Nizo 4056 with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,4 / 7-56mm


Nizo 2056 sound with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,4 / 7-56mm


Nizo 6080 with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,4 / 7-80mm


Nizo 4080 with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,4 / 7-80mm


Bauer S 709 XL microcomputer with

Macro-Neovaron 1:1,2 / 6-51mm


Bauer S 715 XL microcomputer with

Angénieux 1:1,4 / 6-90mm


Macro-Neovaron 1:1,2 / 6-51mm

as found on Bauer C 900 XLM and Bauer S 209 XL


Macro-Neovaron 1:1,2 / 7-45mm

as found on Bauer C 700 XLM and Bauer S 207 XL


Nizo 561 macro with

Schneider Macro-Variogon 1:1,8 / 7-56mm


Nikon R8 with

Nikon Cine-Nikkor 1:1,8 / 7,5-60mm


Canon Auto Zoom 814 Electronic with

Canon Macro 1:1,4 / 7,5-60mm


Eumig 881 PMA with

Eumig Makro-Viennon 1:1,8 / 7-56mm


Eumig 860 PMA with

Eumig Makro-Viennon 1:1,8 / 8-48mm



A cut-off line was established for cameras that did not feature 24fps, that did not have manual aperture control (i.e. full manual control over the diaphragm and not mere exposure compensation or an EE lock feature for an otherwise fully automatic exposure control). Special-purpose cameras such as the Eumig Nautica, the Canon 310 XL or Bauer III XL were not included either because of their originally-intended special field of operation. Also, OEM-branded cameras such as Bauer cameras sold under the Porst name have not been double-listed here.


Despite great effort, we were not able to test a variety of cameras due to a lack of getting our hands on them, but who should have been featured as they promise to be highly ranked, at least in the mid-field down. These are (in order of interest):


Agfa Movexoom 10 MOS Electronic with Variostar 1:1,8 / 6-60mm

Minolta Autopak-8 D 12 with Zoom Rokkor 1:1,8 / 6,5-78mm

Minolta Autopak-8 D 10 with Zoom Rokkor 1:1,8 / 7-70mm

Elmo 1018R with Elmo Zoom 1:1,8 / 7-70mm

Elmo 1012 S-XL with Elmo Zoom 1:1,2 / 7,5-75mm

Nalcom FTL 1000 Synchro Zoom with Shinkor Zoom 1:1,8 / 6,5-65mm (Nalcom-Mount)

Edited by Michael Lehnert
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Don't ask me where this timtyler.net weblink came from in the first paragraph of the above post of mine providing the Top 30 Super 8 camera list. It hijacked and assimilated the word "...serious..." of my sentence, as if it were some Borg hyperlink.


The sentence should read: "The purpose was to find out which Super 8 cameras were most ideally suited for [...] serious production purposes in the Super 8 format."


I tried to delete that timtyler.net link, but the forum editor wasn't forthcoming on that <_< .


Anyway, so much for the Top 30 cameras for now. If you want info on further-down-the-list cameras, I will try to chase the info up in my colleague's database. But I think the Top 30 will do for now, or not? :unsure:




Edited by Michael Lehnert
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  • 3 weeks later...
However, we also considered equally important issues such as ergonomics, design, functionality, short- and long-term reliability, as well as construction intent and achievement of the camera package. We also looked at the usual features, as well as those truly unique and special functions not found on any other camera. While the latter might sound a bit antiquated in times when even things as simple as fade-outs are done digitally "in post", we thought we would honour the venerable school of thought around cinematographically achieving as much as possible "in-camera", because...

?firstly: this reflects on the cinematographer's true craftship and cinematic, optomechanical and artistic knowledge.

?second: cameras from the 1960s to 1980s in both 16mm and 8mm did offer so many in-camera means that are mostly lost now or have been replaced with electronic gimmickry, so why not value those capabilities of "olden times" when you have them at one's disposal, as?

I'd love to do a Slow motion Laps dissolve on my 1014E but I just don't want to risk it. I don't even know if I would risk it at regular speed. So I'll stick to the "electronic gimmickry".

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What it means is that the Dichroid System is more accurate than the Split-Image, Microprism system. There is a separate trigger on my camera for the focussing. You get a blue and a yellow double image when the camera isn't focussed and you really know when the camera is in focus. The double images are clean gone. That viewfinder is great. So yes. I'd agree with what I wrote in Super8wiki. :lol:


I have to admit that one of my preferred cameras is a Sankyo, but...


for best focus indication in the viewfinder, you can't beat a groundglass. I've converted several S8 cameras to groundglass focussing because these Aerial viewfinder systems are one of the major weaknesses of S8.


The blue/yellow dichroic focus system is like the Zeiss rangefinder viewfinder on the better Polaroid Packfilm cameras. They're decent, but they demonstrate focus only at the center, and the accuracy of the system depends on the proper alignment of separate dichroic filters.


However, the sharpness a camera is not determined solely by focus or by it's focus indication system.


For instance, I found my Canon 1014xl-s sharper than my Beaulieu 4008zmII with 6-66 in normal shooting circumstances. I think this was because of the smoothness of the film transport and multi-coating on the lens. I don't have the zmII anymore, but the footage I shot with it at 75fps (which the Canon cannot do), it is significantly sharper than anything I have shot since with the 1014xl-s. That's because of the shutter speed at 75fps.


I have to agree with the previous statement that there are numerous contributing factors to the sharpness of a camera, including shooting conditions in addition to mechanical/optical considerations.


Hey, wasn't there some sort of advanced transport design in the Leicina Special?

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Why did'nt the Canon 1014E make the list? It's got to be ahead of the 814E and with the excetption of low light conditions, it's been reported to be sharper than the Nikon R10.


The filmsht.com list is just colportage. If you read through the original thread over there, you realise that it's just based on hearsay claims of posters concocted into a list. BBC Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson has a more thought-out methodology in assessing cars. Nevertheless, some ranking places are correct.


If you scroll through what I quite steadfastly claim to be a much more accurate approach in form of the top camera guide I worked on with colleagues, you will find the Canon 814 and 1014 cameras without commag option exactly were they belong in respect to optical quality, features etc. The 1014 close behind the R10, the 814 further down yet behind the R8.


So it made a list, although not a second one, but rather the primary one... ;)


Futhermore, there is no reason not to do a lap disolve with your Canon. I would'nt do it at extreme speeds with an A camera or one in pristine condition, but it can be done and should work fine if it got regular CLA jobs. Remember: these cameras will stick around when most devices of electronic gimmickry are long-forgotten and their dust returned to earth (or chipsets returned to local-dumb sand, rather).




Dichroic Focus System are not only good on the Polaroid 195 or 250 because of the Zeiss name (which is overrated anyhow in that specific respect). My Polaroid 110 B "Pathfinder" has a non-branded and simple dichroic rangefinder that allows better working practices than some 4000 Euro Leicas, and its Rodenstock Ysarex 1:4,7 / 127mm lens is just stunning on Polaroid 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 medium-format packfilm.


Sure, in Super 8, ground glasses in viewfinders are better in achieving being a focusing aid than many rangefinder solutions (let alone arial images), however, the rangefinder solutions used in the Bauer A 512 is far more precise than the ground glasses used for the Beaulieu 6/7/9008-series, as the microprisms of those are much less fine-grain than they were supposed to be. Still, the 4008-series offers the best (and ground-glass-based) viewfinding system in the Super 8 format.


Hey, wasn't there some sort of advanced transport design in the Leicina Special?


Nope, plain and simple pull-down claw. I don't know where this urban myth came from that it had a sprocket wheel drive, in the first place? Again, not to start bashing German brands most people seem to have dreams about, but despite the Leitz Leicina Special coming out in second place of the Top Camera Guide , it is a bit overrated in quite many respects, as I will explore in my article in the next-to-this-current issue of Super 8 Today magazine (or download it from my website from the 25 DEC 2007 onwards).


(shameless self-centred plugs end)

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I have read some of your posts about CLA and how many take it for granted. You have mentioned how many treat super 8 cameras like disposable cameras. Funny thing, one professional I talked to referred to the 1014E as a disposable camera. But when you compare it to other cameras like Beaulieau that have a firm infrastructure of service, not to mention the way it is built and with interchangable lenses, then other cameras may seem "disposable" by comparison. Anyway, not to stray from my point here, it seems that you have a relieable CLA source in Germany and I remember that Mitch mentioned that he has found this service to be expensive and often not satisfactory. He lives in Cananda and you in the U.K. It may be fair to point out in this case that the German people tend to be very meticulous craftsman as a general steriotype and in the U.S. there are not very many places that can guarantee that kind of thouroughness. So, there is no wonder that many in the U.S. feel that it is really a crapshoot as to how attentive the repair guy is going to be ( Especially in the old days with Pro 8mm-I have'nt used them recently). And maybe the nature of your job ( I am assuming here) gives you the resources to pay the high prices for a good service ( did you say something like 400 Euros?). Having said that, it is probably a good idea for Super 8 users not to treat these cameras as disposable since they are no longer made. And if a niche market is to survive, it most definitely will rely on availability of cameras. Maybe it is a good idea to salvage all and any cameras to fullest extent even if it means donating the simpler, low end ones to programs that can be used as an introduction to beginners to give them a feel for the medium. Another thought is having a camera bank or dontating unwanted or broken cameras to your favorite repair service shop as a gesture of good will to contribute to parts availability. I am interested in your thoughts on this. ( The end of my self centered diatribe)

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I think it would be pretty neat if some repair places committed to taking apart non working super-8 cameras and keeping them for spare parts.


I think that Spectra does that. Their web site talks about having a large inventory of spare parts for super 8 cameras. They also have their own machine shop in house to machine any parts that cannot be directly replaced. I have never used them but I get the idea that if you compare them to pro 8mm it is like comparing the good witch and the bad witch in the Wizard of Oz!

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My opinion:

The Nikon R-10.

Of all the cameras I've used, the R-10 has come out on top.


I've used these cameras:

Beauliuex (I forget which model now) - with an Angeniuex lens

Canon 1014 XL-S, & 814 XL-S

Bauer 715XLS

Nikon Super Zoom

Gaf (I forget which model).


Matt Pacini

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Marc, coming back to your post here asking me for my thoughts about regular CLA (cleaned, lubricated, adjusted/collimated) for Super 8 cameras and a general attitude to them ? which I believe most Super 8 filmshooters don't anything but for granted... very much unfortunately for this format.


I can see why people are tempted not to regard a Super 8 camera they have bought for $50 off eBay with high esteem and ? because its seemingly paleolithically-old amateur hobbyist stuff from yesteryear, or because they are confronted with the myth that just because it's mostly mechanical it will run forever (often not knowing that it will certainly run longer than the $1000 HDV-gear they bought, but nevertheless needs some attention after, ughh, 30-odd years or so... so it's not asking for the world we are talking about here). This is shortsighted, often out if lack of knowledge rather than stupidity. Nevertheless, it should be clear to most that the cameras they got for a nickel and a dime originally cost more than a new small-sized car, complies to broadcast standards and easily outpaces their essentially ripp-off prosumer video equipment. So in light of this realisation, I just offer the view that maybe considering the comparatively (!) inexpensive acquisition (even for a hurting US$400 Beaulieu 4008 ZM II with Schneider 11x6mm), investing some more money to have someone look through it who knows the job at hand, and can rejuvenate a device to amazing effect and quality that can bring outstanding cinematographcic results if properly used, might be something worth doing if you take your filmmaking or mere filmshooting somewhat serious. I never came across anyone having a CLA bill substantially higher than $400, and that was for a complete transport mechanism rebuilt of a Beaulieu 6008 S at Ritter, then the official Beaulieu distributor (= über-premium price).


I made this example already, but would like to repeat myself here:

Would you buy an automobile as 2nd hand that is aged, say, 30 years (so let's say a Cadillac Eldorado or a Lincoln Continental) that was hyperexpensive when new but changes hands for a fraction of its value today, onto which you trust your professional career or "mere" work of art'n love (say, you are a cab driver, or a pimp-my-ride mechanic) and which you (want to) use regularly...; would you buy that but never check the tyre pressure, the oil pressure, the cleansing fluid tank, the engine gasket head seals, the oil basin, corrosion under the wheel arches, and doublecheck underneath the vinyl roof, lubricate the seatbealt tensioners, de-CFC the A/C, and look carefully out for a good garagist that knows such old machinery which is run more by mechanics than by electronic malfunction-ware experts? I very much doubt you would run a car like that.

So why would you not want to clean, lubricate and adjust/collimate a film camera that will serve you virtually perpetually if properly cared for? I run Super 8 cameras which are older than me (not difficult to achieve in a forum where few are beyond their twens, but still...) and they run nearly like they were new, and I can trust them implicitly when filming because I know they have received the right attention for not that much money after all ? because although I had to pay a steep amount, it is an investment rather than a consumer expenditure! And that changes the perspectives! I learned that from Stanley Kubrick who owned his cine-gear like so many other cinematographers, and I can utterly see why!


I cannot second the German stereotype at all, Marc (don't be fooled by the German national marketing propaganda, I posted about that before: access those posts by starting from this hub post), and would like to say that I had very good experiences with US-American mechanics and tech people across various industries. I found them to be not only ingenious, creative and inventive, but very detail-obsessed and caring: all attributes I increasingly miss when it comes to people I deal with in France or Germany!

Nevertheless, my geographical location lends me to use cine-technicians closer to me, so that I could even meet them personally if possible. Beaulieus go to Bjorn Andersson in Sweden, Bauer and Nizo gear to either Geissler in Germany or increasingly Ziegler in Switzerland, Eclairs and other 16/35 stuff goes to Paul Dresel in Germany or maybe Les Bosher in the UK, and my Bolex 16 Pro can only go to Ruedi Muster in Switzerland worldwide (that's what I call dependency!). This selection of preferred dealers was put together from "networking" about experiences with other filmmakers, own experiences (and a lot of money was wasted at Ritter, the former German Beaulieu distributor, I can tell you :angry: ) and just sensing good impressions. Not saying that those can be misleading: just a short while ago, my brother had a rather unpleasant experience with a camera repair at GK-Film and will not give them another shot ? he wanted to give them a try, but won't do it in the future. So it's about open-mindedness but also learning curves. Like choosing a processing lab (Andec in Berlin & Todd-AO in London). It's as it is with anything in life, really.

As regards folks in the US: if I were to move to the States tomorrow (hopefully to a sunny place), I would loose my "dealer contacts" in Europe because postage would just be too high for CLA jobs. However, based on what I read here and read about in magazines, Du-All in New York and Spectra in L.A. would be my first port of call to check-out. And there is also Adams64 who seems to know his stuff. And I also gathered from reading the debates between Alex and santo here that maybe Pro8mm isn't the place to go (what is wrong with former Beaulieu distributors, by the way??)


I know that a couple of hundred dollars can be nothing for some, and the world for others. Shooting Super 8 and all that comes with it is not a shoestring hobby by any means, however, I think it is still less expensive than many other hobbies people pursue. And if you want to start a career in the industry, then dealing with financial resources and budgeting is the first lesson to be learned ? with Super 8 being a practical yet quite harmless "dress rehearsal" for the bigger formats, at least with regard to risk. And if you are a professional DoP or AC and ponder about $ 300 to invest in your own studio gear that comes with you on set, then frankly, you should reconsider your priorities.


What I am truly sick and tired of are self-proclaimed Super 8 filmshooters who don't make any attempt of grasping the basic craft of cinematography, run their gear without the slightest fukcing care (if they treat their female of male acquaintances like that as well, no wonder they are mostly loners...), and would rather dispose of a malfunctioning camera (thus bining their original purchasing price) and get a new but equally untested camera off eBay, which they then ultimately bin again. Do that a couple of times, and these imbeciles will have spend as much many as getting their purchasing objective straight first time and spending some greenbacks on one good service that would make them happy for at least 2-3 years with normal filmshooting usage.

Yet what those people also often tend to use ? and that enrages me ? is to start knocking off their Super 8 cameras or even the format in general based on one (probably CLA-avoidable) malfunction; or even more likely, start raging against the the Super 8 cartridge itself as being ill-engineered and prone to fail all the time (occassionally, they then start babbling about Single 8 or Double Super 8 and real film paths and conclude with statements about registration pins and pressure plate in form of statements that can only be describled most kindly as "ill-informed".


The rapid professionalisation of the format and the diminishing supply of the cameras will hopefully lead to a more responsible and reasonable approach to S8 cine-gear. Those cine-techs I mentioned above have access to own-owned spare parts inventories and use parts cautiously or machine-shop them themselves if they run out. And that despite that the spare part situation for prominent marques is actually very good indeed ? much better than most think, at least here in Europe. Nevertheless, the salvage approach you suggest, Marc, is a "policy" already used by many companies. I think by now, those operating in this niche industry have an interest in sustaining their business, so they think about this option naturally. So if a camera is unrepairable, and given to them by the sender, it is likely that it gets dissected for spares.

Similarly, I very much like your suggestion to donate a broken-down camera to one's favourite shop so that they can salvage it. I never thought about doing that myself, but shall do so! However, for now, I never had a camera die on me. Maybe because of the CLA jobs :D ...

BTW: a filmmakers' organisation I voluntarily worked for in their executive board had exactly a camera lending programme for young filmmakers to check out Super 8. Was even good gear, a Nizo S56, eh..., a Beaulieu 4008 ZM, ... and another one, but I can't remember now. Sorry for that!


And as far as that goes: well, if you have an idiot with crappy mentality and attitude problems that would make Freud shiver, and that person gets his greasy careless hand on a CLA'd, mint-in-original box Nizo professional on eBay, then so be it. Because similarly, a highly talented person without resources forced to work with the worst Super 8 camera, like the Bentley B-3, or even worse, a Beaulieu 5008 S ( ;) ), then unless someone plays patron to her/him, s/he has to work those restraints. Truly talent always comes through in the end ? I am quite upbeat about that optimistic stance based on personal experiences I encountered sofar.


You asked me for my thoughts on that, Marc, there they are. In conclusion: in case of doubt, do a CLA. You will most certainly not regret it. The better the camera, the more likely should people CLA it. If done so, the quality of Super 8 will knock your socks of! Full Stop!!





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Thanks, that was very thurough! I have often wondered where the evolution of Super 8 would have taken us if Video had not killed it off so quickly. surely, many lovers of R8 wonder the same thing in the case of S8 killing it off. R8 was actually making some technical progress in the early sixties with cameras that had electric motors, etc.

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Thanks, that was very thurough! I have often wondered where the evolution of Super 8 would have taken us if Video had not killed it off so quickly.


That's a good question...


I personally think that electronification and "overbreeding" as was already apparent in last-generation universal cameras such as the Bauer S 715 XL microcomputer, Canon 1014XL-S and Nizo 6080 would have continued. But I am not entirely sure if that would have truly enhanced the filmmaking capabilities.


After looking at what remained of the day, I really learned to prefer "simpler" yet more advanced production cameras such as the Beaulieu 4008 ZM II, Leitz Leicina Special, the Bauer A 512 and the Nizo professional. I think if one were to combine the best aspects of each of these four designs, one could indeed compile a new "ultimate" Super 8 camera.


But such a camera, let's call it the "Aaton Superette" ( ;) B) ) would indeed still be closer to the mid-1970s production cameras than the early-1980s universal cameras.


I am not even sure that Ultra 8 (or Super Duper 8 or Max 8, if one prefers) is a logical evolution of Super 8 ? so I don't see a great future for Alex's Aaton Superette Elongate variant after all ( ;) :D ). And I am anything but convinced by the idea that the true modern Super 8 camera would be an Ikonoskop A-Cam DS-8, the Double Super 8 version of the Ikonoskop A-Cam SP-16 for Super 16.


Surely, many lovers of R8 wonder the same thing in the case of S8 killing it off. R8 was actually making some technical progress in the early sixties with cameras that had electric motors, etc.


Yeah, I guess you are right. I guess electrification with forward/rewind motors would have advanced the leading cameras of the final generation of Double 8 resp. Normal 8 (or Regular 8, if you prefer), such as the already beautifully perfect Beaulieu MR 8 (see picture) ? but that would have resulted really into the Beaulieu 4008-series, only for that format! If you assume later electronification, you might basically end up with a camera equipped like the Fujica ZC1000 (plus some features à la Bauer S 715 XL microcomputer and optionally a Commag version), only with reel-to-reel (or even core-to-core) set-up rather than the cartridged reel-to-reel set-up of Single 8.


You can see my point already, Marc: I am not sure if anything was really killed-off camera-development-wise. Sure, reel-to-reel was eliminated (and the benefits of that can be argued for and against), but the camera evolution itself was pretty much continuously moving ahead untouched by the supposed "format rupture" that reel-'cum-cartridge symbolises for so many people.




EDIT: An illustrated online HTML-based manual for the Beaulieu MR 8 can be found here, while a pictoral introduction can be found here.


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The module design introduced by bell & howell just as super-8 camera production was finishing up might have been the next logical step for super-8 cameras. Then one could instantly change their camera to whatever fit that days shoot yet the camera could maintain an overall simpler design.


Could you imagine a delorean style side door, plus in a cable and the camera's internals are checked and calibrated, and there would even be a one stop oil drop slot that would automatically lube all the places that needed lubing.

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Alex, that sounds very interesting!


Unfortunately I don't know anything about B&H's module concept. What's it all about?


As I know you are a busy person, I don't want to ask you to elaborate lengthily. But still, could you just maybe give me a hint where I could find some info on that or where to start a research or netsearch about it. Highly appreciated!!

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Here's a bit about the modular B&H-



It's an interesting system.


A 4008zmII, 1014xl-s or equivalent Nizo, with a AF310xl back-up might prove a smaller kit, more versatile overall and more practical. I like to consider cameras interchangeable, and a dependable back-up

can be quite light. Oftentimes I prefer the back-up camera!


Just look at Kate Moss smoking a fag while zooming with one finger on her little Canon. Not a bother!

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Thanks for the B&H hint, I checked it out. Very interesting, I am not sure if that would have caught the market, though, as the modules are more instrumentation panels, whereas all the required technology to accomodate the functions of the panels would need to be built-in after all (or rather: before all). So no cost-saving for the customer. I also find the operation of those buttons a bit illogical. Even a super-tricked Nizo 6080 beats the B&H re. user ergonomics and simplicity.


If that system would have advanced, however ? as you suggest, Alex ? with real empty slots into which you could insert a full function otherwise not available or built-in, then this might have become interesting.


As far as interchangeability is concerend: Can't think of a more interchangeable (or is it exchangeable?) woman than Kate Moss... esp. with a Super 8 camera in hand, the latest fashion accessory for c-class celebrity twats. Nevertheless, got promo for the format, at least PR-wise from Kodak's viewpoint.

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Alex, that sounds very interesting!


Unfortunately I don't know anything about B&H's module concept. What's it all about?


As I know you are a busy person, I don't want to ask you to elaborate lengthily. But still, could you just maybe give me a hint where I could find some info on that or where to start a research or netsearch about it. Highly appreciated!!


Sorry, I missed your question until now. As you surmised in your next post the "guts" of the camera still must reside within the camera. However being able to slap on modules would allow the camera to be a speciality type of camera in different ways.


There could be a time-exposure module that worked like a Nizo. Then there could be a crystal sync module. There could be a variable speed module for "ramping up and ramping down" the filming speeds.


Perhaps there would be room for two modules. One to handle the filming speed aspect, and a second one for automatic exposure techniques. Rather than be menu driven, there would be a dial that would allow one to select the type of automatic exposure setting such as top third zone, middle third zone, or bottom third zone so the camera bases it's automatic exposure on which zone the dial is set to. Auto Ramp up so if one has the variable speed module on the camera the camera would smoothly ramp the exposure as the filming speed changed. An anti-glint option could be available. Plus 1 (f-stop) and Plus 2 and minus 1(f-stop) and minus 2 auto-exposure would be very cool as well. All on separate dials so that one could choose.


Would there be need for a second exposure model? Sure, have a plain one with the "standard" exposure options, and then the "enhanced" module.

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I can see your point.


That would for sure have ? for example ? avoided the confusing repeated re-arrangements of the sound-, rewind- and trick-related features and functions on the Nizo sound cameras, from the 1048/2056-models to the 4056/4080-models, and then all again to the 6056/6080s-models.


On the other hand, of course, it's somewhat nice to have cine-film cameras, i.e. production cameras and universal cameras at hand that (even though "only" for the Super 8 format ;) ) truly offer everything in one box, with one stop, at one press of a button: which bigger "cousins" in 16mm or 35mm can only dream of having.


But I think the module idea might have caught on. In some way, the Nizo integral cameras with their singular mid-strip panel would have been ideally suited to have that strip being replaceable with a module system console. It would have offered commag stuff only, or sepmag stuff only, and even offered features and functions you might otherwise only find in the Nizo big-bodied cameras, like the time exposure function, for instance.


Just a thought.

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