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Serge Gregory

Film-Running Indicator

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I'm testing a Bauer A512 that I just bought. I've noticed that at 24 fps the film-running needle in the viewfinder moves much more slowly when I'm running film through the camera than when I run the camera without any film in it. Is this normal? I'm concerned that it means that the motor is straining when it's pulling film and that I should get it cleaned and lubricated before running any more film through it.

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Hi, the film run indicator in the viewfinder of Super 8mm cameras is linked to the take-up core mechanism, so without a cartridge in the camera, it rotates faster, thus the indicator (either a needle, or an up & down type flag as in the Chinon made cameras, or an indicator light) will move faster, relative to the linkage speed.  This is not indicative of actual camera run speed.  While most cameras will run or seem to run somewhat slower when under film load, in Super 8mm cameras, much of this apparent speed increase is the take up core when not under load.  Actual film speed transport is determined by the camera's pull down claw mechanism. 

To do a dry test without any film, insert either an empty or spent film cartridge into the camera, and compare the running time to the amount of footage movement on the footage counter.  The footage counters aren't dead accurate, but you'll get an idea. So, at 24fps run speed times 60 seconds equals 1440 frames, divide that by 72 frames per foot, equals 20 feet.  So you should see 20 feet of movement on the footage scale via this test.  True frame run accuracy would have to be determined either electronically or mechanically by a technician, or checked on the film itself for visual accuracy after a roll has been exposed and processed etc.

Aside note:  I was just out in Seattle, getting cooler there just as it is here in the northeast!

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Thanks, Martin, this makes sense. On my Bauer, the footage counter doesn't move when I have an exposed cartridge in it (if that's what you meant by "spent"), so I can't do the rough test. In any case, I think I'll shoot a second roll (nearing expiration date) before processing and scanning to see the results.

Yes, no Indian Summer in Seattle this year.

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Most Super 8mm cameras will have their Footage Counter count if a film cartridge is inserted.  Some require that the core cog rotate. So in the case of your BAUER, you will need an empty Super 8mm cartridge.  The cartridge depresses a button or tab in the film chamber letting the camera know a cartridge is in there, and the core needs to rotate so that the Footage Counter will move in conjunction with the core rotation.  Most Footage Counters are an approximation with a few high end camera exceptions, such a BEAULIEU, but even then the Footage Counter is still not exact, only a guide which could be off as much as a foot.  So, if you have an old dead useless cartridge of film that isn't any good, you could strip out the film from it.....so the core rotates freely, or even just remove the core entirely.

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