|This is the version of the Kodak Super 8 Camera we saw at CES in 2017.|
As reported last week by The Verge, Eastman Kodak’s Motion Picture division – not to be confused with Kodak Alaris, which sell photographic film – will finally release the Kodak Super 8 Camera, a traditional Super 8 movie camera that incorporates modern digital technologies.
To give you an idea of just how long the road to productization has been for the Super 8 Camera, we first saw it at CES in January 2016, the same year that Rio de Janeiro hosted the Summer Olympics, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for The Revenant, and Pokémon Go briefly took over the world. To say it missed its anticipated Q4 2016 launch date is an understatement, so you can imagine our surprise to discover it’s finally coming to market eight years later.
We got our first look at the Kodak Super 8 Camera at CES 2016.
The Super 8 Camera is a hybrid of old and new technology. At its heart is a Super 8 movie camera, a format released by Eastman Kodak in 1965. But it also incorporates digital elements that provide a more modern shooting experience and bring audio to your movies.
Most notably, the Super 8 Camera includes a 4″ LCD that can display aspect ratio overlays and audio meters and works by using a split prism to redirect some of the light entering the lens to a digital sensor. We got to try a much older version of the camera at CES 2017, and the live view image was hazy, grainy and difficult to use for judging focus, not wholly inconsistent with the analog Super 8 experience. Hopefully, it’s been improved since then. Movies can be captured at either 18, 24, 25, or 36 frames per second.
Kodak’s sizzle reel for the Super 8 Camera offers a glimpse of the Super 8 film look. While it’s possible to apply film effects to video in post-processing, it’s still difficult to achieve the organic look of real film.
The Super 8 Camera captures audio using a built-in or external microphone. Audio isn’t captured on the film, but to an SD card, allowing you to synchronize sound after your film is processed and scanned. Audio capture is limited to 24 or 25fps shooting.
The camera includes a 6mm F1.2mm C-mount lens, providing approximately 35mm equivalent coverage in full-frame terms. C-mount is compatible with lenses going back many decades, and there are a lot of C-mount lenses out there, many of which can likely be found in your local thrift store.
“The Super 8 Camera is a hybrid of old and new technology. At its heart is a Super 8 movie camera, a format released by Eastman Kodak in 1965.”
Kodak is touting the camera’s ‘Extended Gate’ capture. The Super 8 format captured a 4:3 aspect ratio (1.33:1), but the Super 8 Camera is designed to use a wider area of the film such that each frame is 11% larger than the Super 8 standard in a 1.5:1 aspect ratio (or 3:2 as photographers tend to think about it), which Kodak says is closer to the 16:9 format that has come to dominate playback in the decades since Super 8 was a mainstream format.
|Kodak’s ‘Extended Gate’ capture uses a wider area of the film, resulting in a frame in the 3:2 aspect ratio that’s 11% larger than the Super 8 standard.|
Interestingly, the original camera we saw in 2016 included a full-sized HDMI and type A and B USB sockets. When we next saw it in 2017, this had morphed into a micro-HDMI and micro-USB socket (for charging), which appears to remain unchanged seven years later.
Kodak provides several film stocks, including three Kodak Vision3 color negative films, Tri-X black and white and Ektachrome color reversal film. Each 15m (50 ft.) film cartridge will set you back $32 ($43 for Ektachrome) but includes processing, scanning, and transfer to the cloud.
|Kodak Vision3 200T is one of three color negative films to choose from, along with Tri-X and Ektachrome stocks. One 15m (50 ft) cartridge will get you two and a half minutes of footage when shot at 24fps.|
Before taking the plunge, take note: shooting your next project with this camera will cost a pretty penny. At 18fps – a frame rate that will definitely look vintage – you’ll run through an entire film cartridge in just 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Step up to 24fps, and you’ll be down to just two and a half minutes per cartridge.
What may be the biggest surprise about the Super 8 Camera is its price. When it was first shown in 2016, we were told to expect the camera to sell for between $400 and $750. Inflation over the past eight years has been stiff, but that doesn’t explain an MSRP that has jumped to $5495, which includes the camera, a Pelican case, the 6mm F1.2 lens, a pistol grip with trigger, and various accessories.
|The Super 8 Camera includes a micro-HDMI port and a micro-USB port for charging, the same as the prototype we saw in 2017.|
The price point suggests that Kodak hopes it’ll find favor among commercial users or creative agencies looking to provide something unique to their clients rather than the nostalgia crowd who want to have fun with film. Perhaps a few social media influencers will also pick these up, though no provision is made for shooting vertical video.
Either way, this is a significant cost for a format whose 6.3 x 4.2mm capture region is very similar to the Type 1/2.3 (6.17 x 4.5mm) sensors used in compact cameras. Even with an F1.2 lens, Super 8mm is going to deliver the ’60’s home movie’ look that you might need if you want to make the title sequence of a TV show about wealthy, dysfunctional families.
According to The Verge, Kodak expects the camera to go on sale in limited quantities in the US on December 4, but you’ll need to sign up for a reservation on Kodak’s website. If you were already on the reservation list (you’d be forgiven if you can’t remember at this point) and want to maintain your priority position, you’ll need to sign up again using the new waiting list by midnight Eastern time on November 28.