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Old February 7th, 2004, 02:08 PM   #1
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Anyone familiar with this Super 8 camera?

A local restaurant has generously offered to allow us to film in an unused room and while cleaning up the location we came across a Super 8 camera. The model number is Canon AF 310XL. I was thinking about buying it off of the owner, but I have no idea what it's worth, or if it's a good starter camera for getting into film. Is anyone familiar with it? I'm planning to have any footage we take transferred to DV so we could edit digitally, so I figured this wouldn't be an inappropriate question for this forum.
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Old February 7th, 2004, 03:52 PM   #2
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Marco,
Without digging through my old "Super 8 Manual" by Lenny Lipton, I am guessing the AF stands for Auto Focus, and I know the xl stands for low light. (It probably has a 220 degree shutter).

First, DOES IT WORK? Put batteries in and see if it runs. If it doesn't it might just be dirty contacts. Make sure if it is running, that the shutter is actually spining, (Look through the lens with the film door open and see if you see the flickering. Or put a piece of white paper behind the film plane and see if it flickers while the door is open and the motor is running.

Bottom line, If it is working, it's probably not worth more than about fifty bucks. But go on ebay and do a search for past auctions to see what they have gone for.

Good luck.

Richard
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Old February 7th, 2004, 04:08 PM   #3
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Marco,
Just checked ebay, tehres a 310xl for sale starting at 15 dollars. On the other hand, theres a 1014xl about to go for over five hundred. Such are the various prices for the high end and low end of super 8. I looked at the pics on ebay, and If I found the 310xl in working conditition, I would offer twenty to thirty bucks for it.


It's a little too "automatic" for my tastes. I like to be able to set the exposure manually, focus it myself (Don't know if the autofocus can be turned off).
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Old February 7th, 2004, 09:44 PM   #4
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Thanks. It's too bad there are no manual controls. Who knows, maybe the restaurant owner will want to just give away. I think Super 8 looks really fun.
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Old February 8th, 2004, 05:39 PM   #5
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Marco,
It is fun, and I encourage everyone to try shooting with it. It teaches the basic elements of FILM production, and more importantly teaches you the DISCIPLINE of film productions. The 50 foot cartridge is good for 2 -3 minutes depending on frame rate. This forces you to PLAN your shots, and rehearse the moves and GET IT right. The cost of the film and processing, while not prohibitive, does enforce an efficiency in shooting that pays off on the set. No more interminable "retakes" just because you have hours of tape. ANd theres still something magical about handling the processed film and PROJECTING it up on a screen.

Pass the popcorn.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 01:06 PM   #6
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Man, I don't want to sould like a bring down, because you will learn a ton by shooting real film, but it's a very spend road you're on.

Developing is 6 buck at Wal-Mart. Yes, wal-mart. Just go to the photlo-lab. There is a book tied to the drop box that lists prices.

Film runs about $15 to $20 for 3 to 4 minutes. How much film do you want to shoot. Consider we get an hour on dv for about 4 dollars (1.5o if you buy in bulk).

Then you will need a projector. $20-30 on ebay. Plus $20 shiipping.

Did the lamp burn out? $25-$30 for a new one.

The auto feature may not work on the camera because the battery is dead, but that can be fixed.

If you have the cash, you will learn a ton and have a blast. But it is going to cost you around $300 by the time you are done.

I learned this the hard way, but I've no regrets.
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Old February 10th, 2004, 01:42 PM   #7
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Actually, I'm mostly looking to transfer the footage to DV and edit digitally. I understand this is the really expensive part, but I kind of want to give it a try.
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Old March 13th, 2004, 05:31 PM   #8
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The 310XL is a superb cam for _small_ needs. It's very good in low light conditions (XL=eXtra Light), just about the best S8 cam in this aspect and the lens is sharp - just like all the Canons. The AF is, well, out-of-date and in my opinion can be considered as almost fix-focus (with the fixed point wandering just whenever you wouldn't want it to :-)

Overall, it's a good cam to mount on a helmet for skydiving etc. but ebay is an overwhelming source for cheap, mint S8 cams. Go for a Canon 514-XL or a Bauer 10 C: both are quite cheap and draw a helluva picture.

About the telecine, there's a guy called Roger Evans who has invented an affordable telecine system - www.moviestuff.tv. I've heard those sell quite well... I transfer my films on a guy who bought a system like that, and he takes 2 euros(~$) /minute of transferred material. Not that expensive afterall :)

And about the budget, I bought my S8 cam for 25 euros, the film (Kodak Kodachrome K40) is some 15 euros/roll, that be telecined for 6euros - there you are: 50 bucks and you've shot your first roll of S8 film and got it transferred on miniDV. For 50 bucks you won't get no miniDV cam, just a bunch of tapes...

-Jarno

ps. Here in Finland the processing comes along with the film, so that doesn't add any extra cost. But, as I've heard, the processing ain't included in the price in the States, so that adds some extra cost. Anyway, it's absolutely worth a try!
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Old March 14th, 2004, 01:01 AM   #9
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I'm big fan of Super-8mm because of the incredible filming speed/frame rate options that Super-8mm offers.

I can do time-exposure of up to two minutes per frame, and on the other end of the specturm I have a very rare pin registered super-8 camera that will go up to 250 frames per second.

Although Super-8 filmmaking can be more expensive than mini-dv, by the time you have spent an amount equal to what you spent on your 3-chip camera, you will be quite proficient in the super-8 format and frankly that knowledge can give you an edge over those who have never shot film.

Or if you just want to dabble in Super-8mm film and just do a music video or two, your overall film related costs should be under a thousand dollars, and if you desire, the higher priced super-8 cameras (the $200-500 price range) can usually be resold for almost what you paid for them.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 01:07 AM   #10
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By the way, a lot of good advice in this thread.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 11:07 AM   #11
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"...by the time you have spent an amount equal to what you spent on your 3-chip camera, you will be quite proficient in the super-8 format..."

I've been pondering this too. Considering the rate at which these camcorders become obsolete, I wonder if the costs are about the same between the two formats.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 12:23 PM   #12
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One could make the argument that if you had bought a top of the line Canon 814-XLS for $250-300 during the final year of Super-8 production back in the early 80's that you would STILL be using that camera today.

Another ironic twist is that many families have shot so much home video footage they may NEVER edit it, whereas I have edited actual home-movie/film projects for families because the footage is truly precious because the amount that exists is much smaller.

I sometimes think people should shoot both film and video. The film once or twice a year for
keepsake purposes, the video to cover all the longer events.
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Old March 15th, 2004, 08:06 PM   #13
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A comment or two on the results of transferring Super 8 to miniDV.

I've transferred miles of super 8 and regular 8 in my video services business. Much of the footage is 40 years or more in age and is still in good condition. (It has outlasted a couple of generations ov video technologies.) I use one of the CineMate units from Roger Evans mentioned above.

If you intend to shoot on film, then transfer and edit on DV, there are some issues to be aware of. The most noticeable effect when transferring to DV is that DV has about half the contrast range of film. Therefore, scenes with a wide range of lighting levels do not transfer perfectly to DV. Add to this that the original film camera's lens gathered less light at the edges, and the camcorder lens also fall off at the edges, the need for good lighjting becomes critical.

The most common example of these cascading effects is in old film where someone has used a "sun gun" rather than the older multi-floodlight bars. The sun gun throws a failrly circular pattern and the subjects face is often illuminated to near blow-out of detail. When adjusting the camcorder to keep as much facial detail as possible, the result is often a spotlight effect where image detail to the edges almost dissappears into shadow.

Check out the 8mm Metadirectory at http://lavender.fortunecity.com/lavender/569/#Processing

If anyone is interested in further discussion or in film transfer services, I can be reached at rmorris21942@yahoo.com
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Old March 16th, 2004, 08:05 AM   #14
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Thereís something I donít get about telecine. As I understand it, there are two ways to digitize film footage -- one method, which is the most expensive, involves actually scanning frame by frame (I think using a laser or something?) and yields the kind of results you would get by scanning a color slide off of a flatbed scanner. With the other method you basically play back the film and videotape the image with a camcorder. What I donít get about the second method is this -- since youíre obviously going to be hamstrung by the limited color and contrast range of the camcorder, whatís the benefit of shooting film in the first place?
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Old March 16th, 2004, 09:22 AM   #15
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Marco,
Perhaps someone with more experience on your "first method" will chime in here, but I believe the first method will also encounter the contrast limitations of video versus film, since the sensor is a solid state device just like in a camcorder. Color transparancies scanned off a flatbed or slide scanner also encounter this phenomenon.

There are two ways to accomplish the first method. One is with a very high end device such as a Rank transfer unit. I believe that is done with a scanning beam as you describe. Figure very large $$ to do this. You can also do a very good job for much less money by using a frame accurate optical transfer (Roger Evans WorkPrinter devices).

There are other characteristics of film to which we've been conditioned, including the soft focus due to gate float, that will be transferred to video successfully using the camcorder technique.

You can achieve good film to DV transfers, but you must remember the limitations of the final format. I guess it all comes down to $$, especially in the making of multiple copies.
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