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Guest Noah A Wilson

Test Footage Questions - Canon 1014 E AZ

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Guest Noah A Wilson

Hi there,

This will be my first post on the forum, thanks for having me!

I'll start by saying that I am an utter novice in regards to shooting film on a Super 8. I might be a bit hazy on some of the terminology or more technical aspects of filming, but I am more than happy to learn.

Over the last five months or so I've been saving for a Super 8 camera and film (plus processing fees etc.) to work on a short. I ended up getting a Canon 1014 E AZ off Ebay which seemed to be in excellent condition. Shortly after, I picked up a few rolls of Kodak TRI-X reversal film. I had done a bit of research regarding different cameras and film types and it seemed that these were both decent & within my price range. Anyways, being excited as I was to start shooting, I popped in a roll, set all the settings to what the Canon manual recommended (everything was set to automatic, I didn't feel confident enough to mess around with manual exposure and so on) and started filming things around the apartment. I had the film processed and digitized by the people down at pro8mm and today I got the results.


*The film was processed and developed using their basic 720p scan*

I did test both the 18fps, 24fps and single shot on this roll. My main concern is with how noisey the film came out. I wasn't sure if this was due to under exposure from being inside or some other fault with the camera or myself. The other issue was with the focus at times. At the beginning of the footage I tried to use the macro setting on the flowers, it appears that the camera was focusing behind them. Later on, some of the shots, especially those of the hand writing and the open book were nearly completely out of focus. When looking through the lens everything seemed clear while shooting, but it seems that when I got closer to the subject I lost focus.

The test footage:

I've seen some other footage with the canon 1014 E AZ which looks fantastic, and some others that aren't as nice but still perfectly fine for what I hope to achieve visually. I'll include a few examples of what I am hoping to get.

Anyways, thanks a ton for taking a look and any advice you might be able to offer me. I know I have a lot to learn in regards to the technical side of filming but I am keen to learn!

Another Canon 1014 EAZ:

Richard Linklater's Plow:

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You will have to learn some technical details if you don't know them already in order to understand what's going on with your film. I'm going to start saying that Black and White film is a great film but latitude or the dynamic range of this film is not as much as you can expect out of Kodak Vision 3 (color) stocks. ASA 400 can be grainy specially if you are underexposing film. It is a good practice to over expose film by half stop, but you won't be able to do it unless you use the camera in manual mode.


I really appreciate what Pro 8mm is doing to keep film alive, but I have to say that's not the best lab around and the films that I have seen including one they processed and scanned for me have a lot of dirt on them. Other labs are way cleaner so you don't see all those dust spots on your film. It looks like your camera is scratching the film. You have to be really careful if you want to get professional results. You have to clean the gate, make sure there are no dust or hair in there before loading the S8 cassette.


Now the biggest problem I see with your film is it is out of focus. If what you see trough the lens looks sharp in focus, but the film doesn't, that means the focal flange of your camera is not accurate. Unfortunately we don't know were these cameras have been before or if the camera was dropped. Maybe the camera was dropped on a soft surface like carpet so it has "impact damage" that changed the focal flange distance of the lens, but you don't see anything wrong with the camera. The out of focus situation it's going to be worst when you use the macro option, or when you shoot something at wide open apertures like f1.4 or f2.0 on your lens.


I have a similar experience with a really cool, top of the line Nikon R-10 camera. It looked like is was in great condition, but I noticed something on the top part of the camera that looked like "Impact Damage" and it was the case. When I shot this film I remember everything was sharp in focus, but when the film came back from the lab it wasn't in focus. I tested 3 cameras with one cartridge. The first camera was the Nikon R-10 (0:00- 01:21) the second one was a Sankyo and the 3rd one was a Canon like the one you have (01:43 - 02:05). I shot this a few years ago and I remember I sent the film to Yale in Santa Clarita, CA to be scanned and another guy in Oregon scanned it for me using his Universal Scanner. It looks pretty clean to me, to be a home scan.




I have seen several films of the guy you are using as example. He has some of the best films you can see online using Super 8 cameras and if you pay attention to this particular film it is a sunny day, which means he was shooting at small apertures like f8 or f11. That increases the depth of field and makes images look sharper. That's another reason to learn how to use cameras in manual mode.


I think the focal flange distance of your camera is not accurate and unfortunately it is very difficult to find a technician who can or want to work on S8 cameras.

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I'll probably end up repeating some of what Ruben said but I'll say it anyways.

The 1014 is a fine fine camera and you can get incredibly sharp results from it. I'd wager that it's probably working ok. You do need to adjust your diopter to match your eye which will help. That should be in the manual. But the short version is zoom ALL the way in on something as far away as possible then adjust the viewfinder diopter to the correct focus. With that said, there's definitely still a chance it's just straight up broken but based on your footage I think it's ok. Just operator error haha. Live and learn! I've burned more than a few rolls getting to know my cameras well. Pro8mm will repair that camera if it's truly broken I believe but it won't be cheap!


Also you mention "everything being in focus" while you were shooting but that's not really how most S8 cameras work. This isn't an SLR with ground glass where WYSIWYG. You need to pay close attention to the split-image circle in the middle. If those two half circles aren't lined up (despite how "in focus" things seem) it'll be out of focus. That's the only true way to tell if things are in focus. Zoom in all the way, focus the split-image, then zoom to the focal length you want. But still, especially with macro, it's very easy to miss focus. I've shot tons of rolls and still miss macro focus sometimes. It sucks. I'd say I always end up being too close (as you did) so take a small step back next time maybe.

A few things I see in the scan. One. I think you got a flat scan. That's fine but flat scans require a little love post-scan. You have to add some contrast and levels to the footage afterwards. See how lealar's footage actually has whites to it in the highlights? Granted you were shooting in a dimly lit room but still could use some levels so it's not all medium greys. Film LOVES light. Don't be afraid to overlight your scenes. Underexposure is terrible for film. Also Tri-X and Super 8 in general is just grainy. Got to learn to love it. But more light would help. And some S8 scans are just blurry which reduces grain but for the wrong reasons.

Also as Ruben said, I'd recommend getting development done elsewhere. I do all of my stuff at CineLab and then 2K scans at Gamma Ray Digital. A proper 2K scan will minimize grain and looks MUCH sharper. Trust me it's worth it. I shot this with a Nizo 801 Macro on auto-exposure and Tri-X. You can see more on my vimeo. I list the camera, stock, processing and scanner on every film.


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