Re: looking for super-8 camera in NYC

From: D. Mark Andrews (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jul 16 2008 - 21:57:52 PDT

Sorry about the nerve Jason. My comment about super 8 sucking was meant to
be a bit tongue-in-cheek inflammatory to get a discussion going on this
subject. Coming to film making from another medium, I find the sacredness of
S8 a bit absurd at times. It goes hand in hand with a certain type of super
8 film no longer manufactured whose name I dare not speak :-)

Your passionate response only supports my main argument, however; which is,
you need a high-end S8 camera to get the equivalent features in highly
economic R8 camera. Your beloved Nizo is selling at DuAll's for $400. Yes,
you may find an "as is" one on eBay for $200 only to find it doesn't work
when you get it. New batteries, a roll of film with processing and you are
out $225. I have a pile of these eBay S8 cameras, all of them useless except
a nice Canon which set me back $150 and my beloved Agfa Microflex which set
me back over a $100. But I spent countless dollars getting them and I've
found a lot of people with a similar experience.

Your nicely stated argument about the challenges of both R8 and S8 is a good
reminder for anyone interested in 8mm.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Jason Halprin [mailto:email suppressed]
  Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 8:50 AM
  To: email suppressed
  Subject: Re: looking for super-8 camera in NYC

        Jumping in now,

        OK, so I mainly stay on the sidelines these days, but you've hit a
nerve, Mark. I would be completely remiss if I didn't step in here to
defend my favorite celluloid format, super 8. Before I begin however, lets
be frank, working in 8mm or Super 8mm presents many challenges with regards
to finding film, finding processing, splicing your film, and getting quality
projection. Should I even begin discussing the fact that it is near
impossible to have prints made? By working in either of these formats you
are making a choice to present yourself with a set of limitations (different
for each) at ever stage, production, editing, and presentation.

        That said, let me address what Mark has said below:

        Economics: I will agree that my weapon of choice in Super 8 (the
Nizo S560) will set you back around $200 (though I purchased one for a
friend on ebay, and rehabbed it in a few hours, all for the price of $135,
not including my labor), maybe more. However, a B&H filmosonic that a
friend picked up for $5 is capable of shooting a nice film. My nizo has
some great features, such as a built in intervolometer, an automatic/manual
aperture, a variable shutter, in-camera lap dissolves, the option to take
night shots with long exposure speeds, and the option to ramp up to 54fps
during a shot, then return smoothly to either 24fps or 18fps. I acknowledge
that this was a pricey investment ($200 for a video camera, what will that
get you in an up-to-date format?), but after 9 years and well over 5000 feet
through it, I'm confident that it was a great choice for me.
        *I'm not sure where you are obtaining your film, but the list price
for B&W (Tri-X & Plus-X) is $10.59, and 7280 is $14.00. You can obtain
discounts on either of these through the educational program, making the
price $7.41 and $9.80 respectively.
        *Projectors are quite variable in cost (you can easily spend over
$1000 for a GS-1200), but I've been known to come across super 8 devices for
$10 or less that work great for home screenings.

        Creative: Your creative potential is only limited by one thing:
you. If you want to shoot something that is entirely double exposed, then
yes, Super 8 is not the ideal format. However, to make a statement that the
creative potential is significantly higher with one format Vs. another is
pure hubris. "I make the rules the rules of the game, then attempt to play
it." -MS...More arrows in your quiver does not make one a more accurate
archer, the wisdom to choose the right arrow for the target does.
        As I mentioned above, lap dissolves, manual aperture, variable
shutter, and the ability to bypass internal filters (choose your own!) are
all possible given the right Super 8 camera. Yes, most super 8 cameras are
set up to be completely automatic, but I see that as having it's own set of
creative possibilities...ones I choose not to explore at the moment.

        I personally have nothing against 8mm film, and have seen some
beautiful pieces in this format (Bogus Boxing Trash anyone?), and Mark, if
you are happy with the equipment and the possibilities you have with it,
more power to you! The potential for an in-camera 4-way split when
projecting unsplit 8mm on a 16mm projector is a great tool, as is the
generally higher quality of 8mm cameras vs. Super 8. However, I would very
much dispute your initial statement, "Super 8 Sucks! (sorry, I only yell at
landlords and bosses)," and might agree more with "friends don't let friends
dabble in celluloid without first letting them fall in love with it."

        -Jason Halprin

        and PS - my Nizo has travelled with my down the Green River, to the
top of 14,000 foot peaks, and I'm confident it would handle the Peten just
fine. I might need to bring an extra set of batteries, but that's nothing
compared to the weight of a 16mm camera.

        Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2008 17:21:20 -0700
        From: "D. Mark Andrews" <email suppressed>
        Subject: Re: looking for super-8 camera in NYC

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        I've been hesitating to respond to this post since I'm afraid I'll
just get
        into rant mode, so let me say calmly: friends don't let friends buy
        cameras, they encourage them to buy regular-8 cameras. Super 8

        This point comes from a newbie to film. I'm currently editing my
second film
        and shooting my third, so take everything I say with a grain of
salt. But I
        truly wished I had done more research into this subject before
starting out
        in small gauge filmmaking. Over the past 8 months I have been
        frustrated with super-8 cameras, projectors, processing, etc. and
        significant decrease of funds in my bank account attests to it. It
        until I found a pristine Bolex B8L regular 8 camera for 20 bucks
that I
        found jesus. Let me tell you why:

        Economics: Regular 8 (r8) is significantly less costly than Super 8
        * High quality cameras are more plentiful and less enticing to most
        filmmakers thereby keeping the costs down. I'm currently dedicated
to Bolex
        D8Ls, three of them in fact. A sweet camera with a three lens
        variable shutter, multiple fps settings, built in light meter, lap
        crank, pistol grip. I paid less then $50 for two of them and just
shy of
        $100 for another. They came with multiple lenses, filters, cable
        and even a few rolls of 50 year old film. Both my B8Ls with
        mentioned here except the lap dissolve function cost less than $20
        * R8 film is less costly. I pay about $10 for BW and $16-18 for
color (50ft)
        * Processing is either the same price or cheaper than s8, depending
on the
        * R8 projectors are also plentiful and cheap. My current favorite is
        Bolex M8. Have two, paid less than $40 for each. Sold a nice
Keystone this
        morning on CraigsList for $20 ($15 more than I paid for it).
        * R8 film editors plentiful and I haven't paid more than $20 for any
        them, a couple off CraigsList for $5 each

        Creative: Creative potential is significantly higher with R8 (unless
you can
        afford a $500-2000 S8 camera)
        * My second film is almost entirely double exposed. Easy in a R8
        just run the film through twice. Nada for S8, even the high end
        limit the number of frames you can do this with.
        * Manual aperture, fps, variable shutter etc. give me creative
control. This
        is huge for me and will be for anyone who wants to control the look
of their
        film rather than leave it up to happenstance.
        * Manual filters, rather then a built-in "daylight" filter let me
change the
        look of my film--red, yellow, blue -- all good.
        * Fades are a breeze with r8. Even if you don't have a variable
shutter, you
        can open and close your aperture for the same effect.
        * Lap dissolves
        * Don't split your film when processing and you can project your
film as
        16mm, 4 frames simultaneously
        * Etc.

        This post is getting long so I'll stop here, but this list could go
on and
        on. In short, get your friend to buy a Bolex B8L (try to find one
        variable shutter) or Bolex D8L. You'll get all the trappings of a
high end
        super-8 for $50 bucks, most likely less.

        BTW, I would be remiss is I didn't mention the downsides to R8.
        * You have to wind the camera, most are not battery driven. I
actually like
        this, but everyone doesn't. They continue to work in central
        jungles and antarctica, however :-)
        * You get more image in terms of real estate on an 8mm frame of S8.
Only in
        rare circumstances will this make any difference in the finished


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info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.