Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada



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- Petra Chevrier's Tips on Buying Projector Bulbs -
- Exclusive Film Lab's
Tips for Shooting Super 8 -
- Super 8 Equipment Repair Services -

Super 8 Camera Functions
A Check List by John Porter, 2009

1. Film Compartment ... 2. Batteries ... 3. Battery Testers ... 4. Power Controls
5. Shooting Speeds ...... 6. Single-Framing, Intervalometer
7. Footage Counter ........ 8. Exposure ........ 9. Variable Shutter
10. In-Camera Filter ..... 11. Viewfinder ..... 12. Lens ..... 13. Zoom, Macro


1. Film Compartment
Open on the side of most cameras, on the back of some. Slide the film in, L-R, gate first. The film's label will be seen in the little window on the side of the camera, after closing. Notches on the film cartridge set the camera's Auto Exposure Meter to the film's speed.

2. Batteries
Loading is usually in the pistol grip or film compartment. Check for corroded contacts.
Motor - 2, 3, 4, or 6 “penlight” or "AA" batteries. A few cameras use "AAA" batteries.
Exposure Meter - some meters run on 1 or 2 watch or “button” batteries, harder to find.
Better when the camera's motor and meter both run on the same set of common batteries.

3. Battery Testers for the Motor Batteries and Exposure Meter Batteries
Motor - push button on outside of camera, view indicator on outside or in the viewfinder.
Some Exposure Meter Indicators also serve as the Motor Battery Tester Indicator.
Meter - watch the Exposure Meter Indicator on outside of the camera or in the viewfinder, while aiming the camera at differently lit subjects.
Some cameras' Exposure Meters are activated by squeezing the trigger partially.

4. Power Controls (some cameras)
- On/Off Switch
- Lock (to prevent accidental shooting), and Lock Run (to run camera without holding it). - Remote Control: electric "sub-mini phono" or screw hole, for inserting a cable release.
- Self-timer: delays the start run, then runs for a set length of time, then auto-stops.


5. Shooting Speeds (in frames per second)
Normal - all cameras are 18fps, many have 24fps as well. The same with projectors.
Slow-Motion - 36fps, 48fps, etc. Shoot at 24fps then show at 18fps for slight Slow-Motion. Fast-Motion - 12fps, 9fps, etc. Shoot at 18fps then show at 24fps for slight Fast-Motion.

6. Single Framing (some cameras)
“SF” or “1”, for animation or pixilation. May work only with a remote control cable release.
Intervalometer: in increments (1 frame every 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60 seconds) or variable.

7. Footage Counter
50 feet or 15 metres in a cartridge lasts 3:20 minutes at 18fps, or 2:30 minutes at 24fps. The advance may be indicated by “Start-50”, "S-50", “0-50”, “50-0”, “50-End”, or such.
Some start at "0", others end at "0", and some will end earlier or later than the film!
The counter resets to "0" when the camera is opened, so if mid-cartridge, note how far.

8. Exposure
All cameras have Auto (“A”), many have Manual (“M”) as well. Better to have both.
Use Manual to fix the exposure at a constant while moving among differently-lit subjects.
Some cameras have an Auto Lock or Hold instead of Manual, but it's more awkward.
Aperature: variable "iris" in the lens, changes exposure in "stops" (16, 11, 8, 5.6, 4, 2.8). Back-Light Control (“BL” or “+”): Increases all exposures a little, while still on Auto Exposure, to expose dark areas in the frame, such as people back-lit or in shadow.
Some cameras have "+1, +2, -1, -2" for controlling exposure even more while still on Auto.

9. Shutter
All cameras' shutter speeds are about 1/43 second at 18fps, and 1/60 second at 24fps. Variable Shutter: some cameras can open to 1/30 sec., and longer for time-exposures.
Fade-In / Fade-Out, or Dissolve: closes & opens shutter, rewinds. Manual or automatic.


10. In-Camera Filter
All cameras contain an orange filter behind the lens for shooting indoor colour film outdoors (which is a bue light) or under flourescent lights (which are green).
When shooting daylight colour film, or black & white film, move the filter away
by using a switch on some cameras, or by inserting the included flat metal “key”,
or a common "machine bolt", into the movie-light receptacle on the top of the camera.

11. Viewfinder
Close the Viewfinder (some cameras): for shooting w/o your eye held to the viewfinder.
Diopter - Focus the Viewfinder for your eye. A subject should appear in focus when its known distance, and the distance shown on the lens focussing ring, are the same.
The easiest way - set the lens at "infinity", then focus the diopter on a far distant subject. Some cameras have a Diopter Lock. A good Eye Cup makes viewing a lot easier.

12. Lens
Most cameras have a permanent zoom lens, not interchangeable lenses nor a fixed lens. Clean it carefully - a blower-brush for dust, then lens tissue with lens fluid for fingerprints. A "Skylight", "UV" or "1A" filter protects the lens without effecting colour or exposure.
Focus, Depth-of-Field ("Depth-of-Focus") on side of the lens. May change w/ zooming!
Many cameras are difficult to focus through the viewfinder. Confirm with the lens markings. Lens Shade (some are permanent): blocks side-light from confusing the Auto Exposure. Lens Cap protects the lens when not shooting. Good to use, easy to lose.

13. Zoom
Manual or Power: Power Zoom may have 2 different speeds - fast and slow.
Switch off "Power Zoom" when manually zooming. Manual is easier with a Zoom Lever. Macro: usually the Zoom Lever lifted past one of the Zoom ends. Focus with the Zoom.


Super 8 Equipment Repair Services

Daniel Tancou
Bathurst & Eglinton Streets, Toronto
Cell Phone: 416-669-7911
3-month warranty

Russ (ex-Kominek Cameras)
Bathurst & Queen Streets, Toronto
Appointments: 416-977-2132
russ at kominek dot com

Jean-Louis Seguin, Montreal
Repairs and sales of super 8 and 16mm equipment since 1985.
Specializing in 16mm Bolex cameras including converting to Super 16!
514-834-6038,, bolextech at gmail dot com

Du-All Camera, New York City
Repairs, sales, rentals, including super 8 cameras,
for over 40 years, close to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.

Super 16, Inc., Newark Valley, New York
Servicing and repairing super 8, 16mm, Super 16 and 35mm cameras,
in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.


Some Tips on Buying Projector Bulbs
by Petra Chevrier, November 2009

Some USA sellers on ebay won't ship outside the USA.
But Lights64 will, at good prices, including DJL bulbs, used on some super 8 projectors.

Usually, if one searches diligently through all the sellers listing, say, under "djl bulb", there will be one or two who will ship to Canada, if not Worldwide. Also, if you can't find anyone, then try sending an e-mail to the biggest sellers asking if they will make an exception, if you pay full shipping costs and buy 2 or 3 bulbs. "Please" and "Thank You" helps. Many will be OK with Canada, as they can use US mail pretty easily.

Then, in a desperate and urgent situation, where cost becomes less and less of an issue, you can go to Though costly, it’s a really useful site, see for example.
This website is amazing because it gives all the specs for every bulb known to mankind. And you can search his database for any bulbs with a given parameter set, such as "12 V", "100 Watt" with a "tube" type envelope, say. This is a very useful tool, when you don’t have the bulb 3-letter code, or only know a few things about the bulb you are seeking. (Usually I can measure the voltage from the device, and at the very least, I know what type of base it needs, then I can look in the Donsbulbs database to see what bulbs this includes – their wattage, their filament height above the base, etc.) With some careful searching, and comparison with his list of manufacturers, you can identify the correct bulb for a given job. But, as I said, the prices are a bit on the steep side compared with ebay. In his defense, Don has very rare bulbs not available on ebay.

In addition, there is Atlanta Light Bulbs in Georgia. Also quite cheap, but they might need a credit card -- not sure about that. They also carry Xenon bulbs for reasonable prices, something hard to find on the other sites. And Don is very overpriced for Xenon bulbs.


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