Purchasing Super 8 in Europe

From: Ken Paul Rosenthal (email suppressed)
Date: Wed May 23 2007 - 09:15:44 PDT

Please be careful when ordering bulk amounts of super 8 in Europe, or
anywhere for that matter. I've recently learned some interesting facts about
lubrication in the cartridges; if they have not been properly lubricated
with silicon, the film will scratch. And apparently, Tri-X is particularly
sensitive to scratching.

In over 20 years of shooting super 8, the ONLY stocks that ever came back
from the lab with scratches was Tri-X. And both times it was from processing
overseas, once from Germany (quite surprisingly), and once from The
Widescreen Centre in London. Now the latter is an enormous source for all
things super 8. It's been over 5 years since I've been in touch with them,
but the super 8 contact there was Jake.

I bulk ordered Kodachrome from them and was shocked at how many defective
cores were in that batch. Apparently, those cartridges were constructed in
France. So for example, with the new Fuji Velvia and Ektachrome 100D stocks,
it's is VITAL that you be sure who is slitting and filling the cartridges. I
purchase mine from Spectra Film and Video in LA, whom I trust in these
matters. Stay away from Pro 8 in LA. Alas at the moment, they are the only
people selling 7363 Super 8. But they will charge you half the price for
shipping ($15!!!) for one roll!

I recently learned that Spectra and some other labs actually drill (yes,
drill!) the cartridge cores of there reversal super 8 stocks out (but not
negative s8) as a means of extracting the film to process it. I think this
is absolutely ludicrous, almost as much as Kodak pulling the film out
through the cartridge window which resulted in blue pressure marks on the
emulsion. There used to be 'cartridge crackers' which worked like the old
coke bottle openers, a simple device I've been seeking for years. For my
hand-processsing, I simply crack the cartridge open with a hammer which
literally takes seconds and doesn't affect the film adversely in the least.
I've tried to convince my labs to follow suit but they think I'm crazy.

Anyway, ALL these factors contribute to the 'super 8 look'. In the worst
case scenario, the film may not even pass through the cartridge and there
is nothing worse than being out in the field when this happens--I've been
there. So check in with The Widescreen Centre, and raise this issue with
them. Processing overseas/X-Rays, et all has been covered frequently on this
listserv, so be mindful! Tri-X is a comparitively fast stock.

Good luck...Ken

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