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Hi! I'm new to forum, though I've found myself here reading through a topic many times in researching one thing or another.

For the past 20 years or so I've been shooting regular 8. What started as a curiosity has lately turned into something more serious for me, and as I've attempted to do research and problem solve, I've found information about regular8- cameras and much more- to be somewhat lacking on the internet. Info about super8 is widespread, regular8 not so much. For me, there's no comparison between the two. Regular8 is just so much more versatile for experimentation.

Lately I've been trying to answer the question, "What is the best regular8 camera?" for myself. A necessity for me is for it to be a reflex and a zoom. I also prefer a camera with a big range of fps (8 - 48/64). My first regular8 camera was a Cinemax-8e, and if the spring didn't wear out, I would probably still be using it. At this point, I own at least 8 Cinemax-8e's, Cinemax-8ee's, and Cinemax 85e's. It never occurred to me that these weren't very good cameras because they did what I needed them to do, yet, the springs always wore out. I also bought a Leicina 8V early on, and it's proven to be a very good-quality camera, although I wish it wasn't only 16 and 24 fps. A few months ago I decided that I was going to scour the internet and try to answer my question, convinced that there were much better regular8 cameras out there.

As of now, I have narrowed down my search, having procured the following 4 cameras to examine:

Zeiss Ikon Moviflex Super. This one is in tip-top shape, yet the automatic exposure is really weird and I think faulty. Thankfully there is manual exposure. I think this is one of the best lenses on a regular8 camera, although the zoom range isn't great.

Agfa Movex Reflex. Bought two cheapies just to take a look, and the viewfinder is really foggy on both. I imagine this to be a common problem with this camera. I have a really good quality one on the way. I really like what this camera can do, the only negative is the zoom range is less than the other cameras in this list.

Canon Cine Zoom 512. This one might be my favorite on this list. 64fps is just wow. The only problem is that the ASA only goes up to 320, and I want to be able to shoot 500T.

Beaulieu Mar 8G Automatic. I have one with the Schneider 8-48 lens currently in the mail to be serviced by Bernie O'Doherty. He did mention that the automatic exposure on these cameras isn't great, so I wonder if I would be better off with a Beaulieu MR8 or MCR8.

I am also interested in checking out a Carena Zoomex S because of its lens, the Nizo models FA3, Allmat Mod. 2, Heliomatic Focovario, Ercsam Camex Reflex 8, and I have a Pathe Imperial/ Auto Camex currently being shipped to me. Of these the Carena is most interesting to me, and I imagine that the Nizos are good, but not especially interesting or better than anything I have.

There is of course also the Bolex H8 REX-4. Because a reflex zoom is a necessity for me, I am wondering if the SOM Berthiot and/or Kern-Paillard zoom reflexes are especially nice.

I would love some insight into these questions. What is the best camera, according to my needs? Does a Bolex H8 with one of these zoom lenses supersede the cameras that I have listed? Are there any glaring omissions in my list?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Maybe just go with the Canon if thats yr favorite off the list... 320asa is less than one stop over exposed and i don't think thats a bad thing for 500T, i've heard you can get finer grain and better color saturation if you overexpose one stop.  you can easily just open up the lens if you really need to be shooting at 500asa

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Posted (edited)

A number of reflex zoom lenses can be found. Any D-mount camera can be reflex-zoomed by them. The Angénieux K1 is very good just like Schneider Variogon. Kern Vario-Switar was never reflexed and fits only the H-8 RX. An adapter will make it usable on reflex-finder cameras (Camex 8 R, Armor C, Christen DB, EMEL R, Beaulieu 8 R).

I don’t think that a best Double-Eight or Straight-8 camera can be determined. The younger Paillard-Bolex H-8 as you mention certainly is attractive with its 100-ft. capacity and crystal motor possibility. An older H-8 gives you a 190 degrees shutter opening. Together with the Kern-Paillard Switar 13 mm, f/0.9 you have the most light on the film. Taylor, Taylor & Hobson on the other hand made a few D-mount lenses with fully closing iris. I find that practical. The Sankyo 8-R has a slide cover between shutter and aperture, also a good idea although it doesn’t remain closed. A camera with built-in critical focuser like the Bell & Howell Filmo 8-T. The difference is that B. & H. offered a rackover base. You cannot beat the critical focusing system of the H-8 S.

The Leicina 8 S has a very good 15 mm lens built in, really very good. But it takes extremely fine-grained film stock to make the quality visible. A crystal speed control for this camera is being studied at the moment. On a related note it must be stated that almost equally sharp images can be had from a clean triplet or four-elements lens. The compact fixfocal length lenses common with the many 8-R cameras aren’t bad. On the contrary, you would be surprised what comes out of a Berthiot Cinor B, the 1924 Perlynx design. Pity we have no microfilms as Double-Eight.

The Elgeet Cine-Flex is a neat accessory that takes one further for little money. A rare camera is the Pathé Lido 8. Like the GIC 8 it takes 50-ft. spools. Both are simple apparatuses. But you might perhaps prefer American brands. If you don’t mind to load those Kodak chargers, a DeJur Fadematic is a small and handy camera offering the variable shutter. More modern Wollensak or Tower models may satisfy your wishes. The Zeiss-Ikon Movikon 8 Super, to name another European model, has the very desirable split-image focusing screen. One such can, by the way, be added relatively easily to many reflex cameras.

Edited by Simon Wyss
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The Canon 512 is a top camera 🙂
Amazing how well they age and how bruised they can be and still work.
You need some trickery for the battery though.

. The only thing is that weighs a bit. Not your hiking camera.

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So, you like experimentation?  Have I got the camera for you!!!  Have you ever heard of Ultra-pan8?  The format uses the entire width of Reg8mm film to shoot a widescreen image that is around 2.8-1.  That’s right: Wider than CinemaScope.  The UP8 camera is a hybrid between a Bolex Reg8mm reflex and a Bolex 16mm reflex.  It has a Reg8mm frame pulldown; but a 16mm image width.  Canadian Nick Kovats initiated the format.  Canadian Jean-Louis Seguin(The Bolex master) does the conversions.  You can find him via his Facebook page.  I have camera #5 and my friend; a Hollywood animator; just sent in his camera to have it converted.  He borrowed mine and he loves the format so much; he had one made too.  The image can be scanned and edited or projected.  There’s a chap in England who modifies Specto projectors to show the film.  I have one of those too.  Examples of Nick Kovats shoots can be found online and on You Tube.  My favorite is: “My memories of her a missing.”  Something to consider.

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Erren, I'm close to you in the San Francisco area. Would love to know where you're sourcing your film stock - 8mm is rather hard to find. Here's an image of an H8 RX4, a beautiful machine. But something I didn't know until Chosei Funahara pointed out recently on a Facebook post, there's one 8mm camera with a spinning mirror reflex - the Pentacon Pentaflex. They made a 16mm version that can be found rather inexpensively on eBay, but I'm not sure how rare the 8mm version is or if it's the only spinning mirror reflex 8mm camera. 

83399637_10157011626161483_496564318964285440_o.jpg

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16 minutes ago, Webster C said:

He also posted a diagram of the reflex system. 

 

Did not know this. Impressive! 

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28 minutes ago, Webster C said:

Attached is an image of the Pentacon from Chosei. 

Chosei Funahara.02.jpg

Was thinking about getting one of these as my first R8 camera, wonder if the cassettes are easily loaded.. 

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There's very little info on the Super 8 wiki about them:

http://super8wiki.com/index.php/Pentacon_Pentaflex_8

But the brilliant Marco Kroger posted this video

https://youtu.be/HKN97YfmtAc

...and there's a link to a super informative page which is where the reflex diagram appears to have come from:

https://zeissikonveb.de/start/kameras/schmalfilmkameras/pentaflex 8.html

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Everyone, thank you! And I look forward to more feedback.

Christopher - Very helpful, you are probably right, and by doing so the Canon is probably the answer to my question. Thank you!

Simon - I aspire to understand the smallest bit of your feedback. I hate to say that with regards to much of the knowledge that many filmmakers count as basic, am I am woefully unlearned. For example- I still do not know what exactly the benefit to having a variable shutter (or a 190 degree shutter) is. For that reason, much of what you've written is way over my head! I do expect that if I look up every camera, piece of equipment, and word that I do not know the meaning of, it will be fruitful. So, I promise to do so. Thank you!

Todd- I will look into the K2. I have been curious about the K2, the S1, and P3. Of those you like the K2 best? Thank you!

Andries- Another vote for the Canon! Please tell me about the battery issue. Mine seemed to work fine with an Exell A1px. Do I need to be aware of a voltage issue? Thank you!

Roger- I do want to branch out into other formats at some point, and I can now add Ultra-pan8 to formats that I am very curious about. As far as I've seen, the cost to modify cameras to other formats is gut-wrenching. But if and when I'm more well-off, I know that I won't be able to help myself from dropping some serious moola to get to play with a widescreen formatted camera. Thanks for the tip!

Webster- Nice to meet you! Lately the Film Photography Project has been making a pretty wide range of regular8 film available. They seem to sell out pretty quickly, but if you subscribe to their newsletter you can be one of the first to know. I imagine you probably already know about them, though. Recently they had 100D Ektachrome reversal available. I would hope that the speed at which they sell out will compel them to up their production. Also ON8MIL in London and Re:voir in Paris provide the Kahl range, which I have some rolls of but haven't shot just yet. I'm not sure if anyone sells Kahl domestically or if it's possible to buy direct from them, if so I would love to know. Regarding the BOLEX REX4, boy oh boy do I want one of those babies. Regarding the Pentacon Pentaflex, that has definitely been on my list. In researching regular8 cameras I even came across an analysis of it that Simon Wyss wrote, which to my amateur understanding read like an analysis of UFO technology. Of all of the cameras on my list, the Pentaflex seems to be by far the rarest and most difficult to find. I'll keep looking though.

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Posted (edited)

I can definitely recommend either the Bolex P1 or P2. I have both of these cameras in my collection. The SOM Berthiot Pan Cinor lenses on these cameras is very sharp. Not quite as sharp as the Kern Switar, as found on the Bolex K2, but the Pan Cinor lens is still very nice. The P-Series Bolex cameras are also very nice to hold while filming. The pistol grip handle makes shooting film easier. I would recommend, if you decide to get a Bolex, to either get one that's been serviced or send it to the Bolex repair shop in Arizona. The lubrication and grease can harden in these old cameras from years of sitting around, or lack of use. I have a P2 that will need to be sent out at some point before I try using it with film. The cosmetics are mint on the P2 and I think it's been maybe used once or twice and put back in the Bolex box 50 some years ago. Anyways not to discourage you but just something to be aware of. Once a Bolex is up to snuff they are great for all around filming. The light meters even still work in my P1 and P2. I bought a wein cell battery with adapter from the gentleman in Arizona who services Bolex cameras. The wein cell has the same voltage as the old mercury batteries that were used in these Bolex cameras back in the 1960's. Good luck with choosing a camera. I would also like to recommend once you do start filming to buy some color reversal or black and white reversal that you can project. Watching your films this way will make you appreciate the format more. No matter what anyone says projecting is still the best! Regular 8 and Super 8 was made for that reason! 

 

p2_2.jpg

p1_1.jpg

Edited by Shane C Collins

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Out of the P series, I don't recommend the 2, 1 & 3 have the better lens

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Shane- Thanks for the tips. If and when I get a REX4 I planned on sending it off for servicing, but I hadn't thought to do that with P or K series. I couldn't agree more about projecting; I shot my first roll of regular8 kodachrome 20 years ago and borrowed a friend's projector so I could watch it. That's when I fell in love with it. I doubt it would have become a lifelong obsession if I hadn't viewed it in that format- dimming the lights, the projector noise, the subtle smell of burning dust. And I'm really excited that reversal regular8 film is finding its way back into the market because I plan on hand editing some films this year.

Todd- Thanks for that tip. Will most likely consider a K2 or P3.

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10 hours ago, Todd Pinder said:

Out of the P series, I don't recommend the 2, 1 & 3 have the better lens

Todd I think all three P-Series cameras share the same lens. The only differences that I'm aware of are zoom capabilities. The P1 and P3 have longer zooms. The P2 appears to have the same Pan Cinor lens as my P1. 

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Posted (edited)

Watch out for Collector's Mania! I got sucked in a few years back and ended up with more than 30 Standard 8 cameras! They are wonderfully interesting because they span a design period from the early 30s to the mid 60s - from Art Deco to space age, solid metal to mass produced plastic. They document a range of technological leaps in cinematography like the birth of zoom lenses, reflex viewing and through the lens metering, sometimes before the more professional formats did, as well as the transition from spring motors to electric ones. They captured history from pre-WWII domestic scenes to the assassination of JFK. All in all a rich and fascinating history.. but they're also great for actual filming!

If you're interested primarily in reflex zoom cameras, then you're really only looking at the last 5 or so years of Standard 8 history, the first half of the 60s. It's worth mentioning that zoom lenses were a relatively new development at this point, with the first properly corrected zoom lenses only really appearing in the late 50s, and limited to short ranges that never went very wide. By the end of the Standard 8 era, the best zooms were by companies like Angenieux and Canon, who had expanded their zoom ranges to around 5X and significantly improved aperture speeds and wide angle capabilities, but a lot of cheap cameras had pretty crappy zooms.

The Canon Cine-Zoom 512 is among the best of those late stage Standard 8 cameras, not only for the range of features but because of its incredible f/1.2 8.5-42.5mm zoom. I had two of these cameras and found them to be quite reliable, if a little boxy and heavy, but the lens really makes it a standout. The earlier Reflex Zoom 8 series were also good though not as feature packed and I find them a bit ugly.

Angenieux supplied zooms to several camera makers, the best of which were Beaulieu and Carena, but also Ercsam, Nizo and others. The Carena Zoomex series are particularly good, being very compact (they have the spring motor cleverly in the handle) with great lenses, especially the model S (Angenieux 6.5-52). It's one of my favourite camera design series, a true original, and very reliable mechanically. 

My other favourites tend to be ones that have interchangeable lenses, which when you include reflex capability is limited to only a few - the Beaulieu MR8 series, Bolex H8RX, Ercsam Camex, Pentaflex 8 and Christen Reflex series.

Out of those, the Beaulieus and Christens are the only ones which take standard D mount lenses, which allows you to use zooms as well as interesting primes (like the Kern 13mm f/0.9) and even D to C adapters for C mount Super 8 or 16mm zooms. I often use a Beaulieu MCR 8 with an Angenieux f/1.2 6-90 with great results. Look for ones with the Gossen meter. The MAR 8 has a fully automatic exposure system, which I'm not a fan of. The Beaulieus are beautiful designs, with a very clever guillotine-style shuttling mirror and variable shutter mechanism, but I have found them a little less sturdy than cameras by say Bolex or Canon. The Christens use a pellicle, and are nothing special apart from being reflex and D mount.

Ercsam Camex cameras use a custom lens mount so are limited to the lenses made for them, but these include good primes and zooms by Angenieux and Schneider. They were the first reflex 8mm cameras, and use a clever oscillating mirror (like a little windscreen wiper), an idea Eclair adopted in their 16mm ACL 15 years later. 

The Pentaflex 8 is an amazing piece of engineering, the only 8mm camera ever made with a spinning reflex mirror like a miniature Arriflex, and the viewfinder is astonishingly large and bright. The cartridges are easy to load with a standard spool, and allow you to quickly flip them for the second pass, and the custom lenses (by Zeiss Jena) are as good as you would expect. However the one zoom has a fairly short range (something like 10-30 if memory serves), and the camera I bought never quite worked properly, so I can't speak to their reliability. 

Some other cameras with fixed zooms that I have found to be good are the pocket Bolex series (P1-3) and the larger K1 and K2. The zooms of the K series are better than the Som Berthiot zooms, but I personally prefer the P series design. If you're interested, I wrote a blog post describing how to service pocket Bolexes (which include the P series) here:

http://cinetinker.blogspot.com/2013/01/servicing-bolex-d8l.html

Agfa's Movex Reflex is a pretty good camera with a spring wind that lasts an entire roll of film, which can be handy, but the zoom is a little limited.

The Zeiss Ikon Moviflex Super was something of a Holy Grail for me for a few years as I tried track one down that didn't cost a bomb. It was a camera so ahead of its time that I think unfortunately it over-reached a little. My copy had issues with the iris motor - I had to open it up and lubricate the motor bearings, probably the price for using a proper iris rather than the 2 blade irises almost all other auto-aperture cameras would utilise. The Zeiss zoom and its viewfinder are amazing, but the whole thing is a bit chunky for my taste. Along with the Canon Cine Zoom 512, the Pentaflex 8 and the Bolex H8RX, it's a high point of Standard 8 camera design (although the pocket Bolex series come close just for the number of features they stuffed into such a small form).

The Japanese company Arco made some lovely cameras and lenses (they introduced variable shutters before Bolex did) including zoom models, but maybe only interesting to a collector. 

The most professional (in terms of reliability, durability and serviceability) Standard 8 camera would no doubt be a Bolex H8RX, and the custom Kern lenses are all very good. But it is very bulky and not great for hand-holding. 100 ft capacity is useful (if you can access larger than 25 ft spools anymore). The Vario-Switar zooms use a 2 blade iris, which doesn't make for the prettiest Bokeh, but allows for auto-exposure on the EE version if that's something you want.

On the weirder side, Sekonic made some interesting cameras - Dualmatic and Simplomat - that allowed you to simply swivel the whole film compartment around so you didn't have to go through the hassle of flipping the spool for the second pass manually. I found that a really cool design idea, especially when out somewhere where you couldn't easily reload the film. But the zooms and other features are pretty basic.

In the end, you might find certain cameras are better for different tasks, and the best one is the one you happen to be holding at the time!

Sorry for the lengthy post, I spent years exploring Standard 8 so it's hard for me to contain my enthusiasm. :)

Edited by Dom Jaeger
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Shane C Collins said:

Todd I think all three P-Series cameras share the same lens. The only differences that I'm aware of are zoom capabilities. The P1 and P3 have longer zooms. The P2 appears to have the same Pan Cinor lens as my P1. 

Every P1/P3 has SOM Berthiot Pan Cinor 8-40mm f/1.9 zoom lens, and the P2,  SOM Berthiot Pan Cinor 9-30mm f/1.9 zoom lens. The P2 was known to be the cheaper version when sold new.

Edited by Todd Pinder

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Hey Dom! What's the improvement to the MCR8 from the MR8? I have what seems to be a late MR8 judging by the dark grey paint just like on the MCR8. I think this is the best 8mm camera, almost 16mm like in features, but yes a little fragile compared to Bolex.

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4 hours ago, Todd Pinder said:

Every P1/P3 has SOM Berthiot Pan Cinor 8-40mm f/1.9 zoom lens, and the P2,  SOM Berthiot Pan Cinor 9-30mm f/1.9 zoom lens. The P2 was known to be the cheaper version when sold new.

Right and that's basically the difference. The P2 having a shorter zoom lens and a different focusing mechanism. But other than that the results on screen should be the same as the P1 and P3. After I have my P2 serviced and can get some film I'll report back. That probably won't be until Summer. I was ready to order the new Ektachrome 100D for regular 8 but it's already sold out. So I'll be waiting for a restock, etc. 

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Dom- Please don't apologize. Your answer was what I came here looking for and I am so appreciative that you answered my questions so thoroughly. As for Collector's Mania... I think I may have a bad case. Over 10 cameras in the past two months! Several of them cheap as-is models so I could examine them in the flesh, but it is adding up. I've convinced myself that I'm not collecting mindlessly, since I plan on stopping when I finally have 2 or 3 cameras that are as close to my ideal as possible. Your response inspired many questions, and I'd appreciate answers to any of them! I have starred ones that are more crucial for me.

1. Am I missing out on any especially great cameras by limiting my interest to Zoom Reflexes?

*2. Without knowing better, my assumption was that the best Beaulieu model for me would be the 'newest', ie- the MAR8/MAR8G. What you've written on the topic makes me wonder if the only feature really differentiating the MAR8 and the MCR8 is the fully automatic exposure. Is that true? And I echo Todd's question- what differentiates the MR8 from the MCR8? And lastly, I'm having a MAR8G serviced at the moment. Since it has manual exposure, using it that way would be essentially the same as using a MCR8 with a fixed Schneider 8-48mm, right? Would the real benefit of having an MCR8 be the D-mount (and therefore C-mount) interchangeability?

*3. Tough question to articulate, but here goes. If I had, say, an MCR8, would any D-mount lenses work with it? Further, if I had a C-mount adapter, would any C-mount lenses work with it is well? My question stems from not knowing if certain D-mount or C-mount lenses require a specific distance from the film gate for the image to be crisp, or are calibrated in specific ways that would preclude compatibility with certain cameras. Of particular concern would be if an adapter moved the lens forward. This may be a really stupid question! But it really stems from hoping the answer is yes, it will all work, and trying to anticipate why the answer would be no, if the answer is no.

4. What is a Gossen meter?

5. Another potentially stupid question: Why is the Kern 13mm f/0.9 an interesting lens? I understand that it is fast, but I still don't know how exactly that is desirable except for low light situations?

*6. I think my Zeiss Moviflex Super has the exact same issue as yours did. Otherwise it is in pristine condition. This leads to another of my questions- how would I go about getting this camera serviced or repaired? Do you know of any camera service and repair people who would be able to service this camera, or the Canon Cine Zoom 512, or the Agfa? Or any regular 8 camera? Are any makes/models so unique that a good technician would be unable to work on them? Or are the guts generally similar?  I realize that the cost to have this work done can exceed what any sane person would spend making such clunky, old equipment work well, but having endured years of frustration with capricious equipment, I would gladly fork over some money just to have a working camera.

7. Last question- Much of my filming experimentation involves masking/vignetting by placing the mask/vignette directly in front of the lens. I like the Agfa and also my Leicina 8V because the actual diameter of the lenses allows me to fit more 'information' in the frame. This is one variable that I have checked with every different model that I own and it really varies from one camera to the next. What also varies is the definition of the lines- with some cameras the lines of a 'peephole', for example, are clear and distinct, in some they are very blurry. I wonder if you have anything to say about this aspect of cameras/lenses/etc. One thing I am curious about, is if what one sees through the lens, as far as focus, depth of field, and in my case, the definition of vignetting, is generally the same as what the film records. Or course, I know that that's not true with exposure, but my knowledge stops there.

Thanks for even taking the time to read my questions, and I apologize if some of them are plain stupid. There's a lot that I don't know. And if you feel like answering any of them, I would be so so stoked.

Thank you!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

There's a gentleman in Yuma, AZ who repairs and services Bolex regular 8mm cameras only. He will service many of the B-series, C-series, two D-series, and P1, P2, and P3 cameras. For other cameras I'm not sure but there are probably services worldwide. 

http://www.bolexrepair.com/camrep.html

Edited by Shane C Collins

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