super 8 exposed
August 7, 2009 5:50 AM   Subscribe

on filming with Super 8...

I recently bought a Super 8 camera (Sankyo XL61-200; info here & here).

I'd like to shoot a movie, but I have no experience with Super 8 and its an expensive endeavor for me, so I have to be careful not to screw up.

I have Kodak Tri-X (highspeed), Ektachrome 64T (medium speed, color), & a single roll of Plus-X (lowspeed). This camera is modified to support 64T.

The camera is a lowlight camera and there are scenes I need to shoot in bright light (in the desert). This table suggests the camera is good only for lowlight. The shutter time is 1/30 and the lens is 1:1.2. Inbuilt 85A filter.

Is there some way by appropriate choice of film and aperture to make this work in bright conditions or is it futile?

What are the brightest conditions I can make do with (sunset?). Conversely, I don't have a idea how low light conditions can be with this camera and different choice of films such that I still get a decent image.

Any other tips would also be appreciated.
posted by breadfruit to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It can shoot lowlight but it doesn't only shoot lowlight. You can control the aperture from it's f 1.2 to probably f32 or whatever. There should be an automatic aperture control and also a manual control. Obviously for brighter light you want to use something higher. If it has auto aperture then it will take care of itself assuming you have the correct battery and it works.

It may also have a built in neutral density filter and if not, you can buy these at a camera store to fit over the lens. This will further block light for extremely bright shooting and with higher speed filmstocks.
posted by JJ86 at 6:07 AM on August 7, 2009


Thing is that table suggests that cameras with shutter degree exceeding around 200 degrees are good only for lowlight, and I'm not sure to what extent that is true. Maybe the implication is shooting in brightlight is possible but the image won't be sharp.
posted by breadfruit at 6:10 AM on August 7, 2009

Doubtful. Sharpness is more a property of the lens, not the shutter shape. Besides, sharpness does not change with the level of light. It's an absurd thought.
posted by JJ86 at 6:24 AM on August 7, 2009

If it's actually an issue (though I honestly can't imagine any manufacturer making a home movie camera that can't be used in sunlight), you can always just get a universal filter holder and throw a yellow filter on that sucker. That'll correct the outdoor colour temperature for your 64T, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:34 AM on August 7, 2009

Oh, wait--it's got an 85A filter, which is orange. If that's not enough on its own, try adding a neutral density filter.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:42 AM on August 7, 2009

Super 8 cameras are ludicrously forgiving so you'll probably be fine. As Sys Rq says a neutral density filter will fix things if things are too bright.

The best thing you can do in terms of saving money and getting a good result is to test out your equipment in the situation it'll be used in when you're shooting. Take a few reels using different settings/film stock and record what settings you used in a log so that when the film comes back from being processed you can see what looks best. Avoiding test shooting because it means extra film to be processed is always a false economy.

Second tip- get the manual for your camera if you haven't already and read it again and again. Manuals for super 8 cameras often come up on ebay or if your lucky can be found free online (my Canon 814xls manual was just a free downloadable pdf from somewhere)
posted by merocet at 7:02 AM on August 7, 2009

I think you'll almost certainly need an ND kit for shooting in the desert - it will keep you in control of conditions, rather than the other way round.

If you haven't already, shoot test rolls of the stock you're using - make sure you test out the camera's lightmeter if you are going to use it for exposure. Is it center weighted or does it take an average reading? - important if you're going to have large bright areas.

Most important tip for Super 8 filming is focus - exposure might be a bit more forgiving, but focussing most definitely is not. Test the lens and focus thoroughly before use and take time to focus every shot.

Have fun!
posted by gravelshoes at 8:08 AM on August 7, 2009

You should get the bible of super 8. Lenny Lipton's book could probably be found in most used book stores.
posted by Gungho at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Shoot a test, yo.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 8:26 PM on August 7, 2009

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