The Basics

Super 8mm cameras haven’t been produced commercially for many years. Whilst they’re still readily available from a number of sources, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you spend your hard earned cash. A well cared for and serviced Super 8 camera will give you many years of happy use, a faulty one will be a source of both expense and comtinued frustration.

Before you buy, read up (in both print and online) about what others use and like. You’re bound to have some sort of budget, what’s the best you could get for your money? What functions do you need, and what are you going to use your camera for? These are all sensible questions that will have a direct bearing on your final choice.

three Super 8 cameras
Super 8 cameras are the same as any other gadgets – there’s a range of models out there with a myriad of functions that cost (when new) between not very much (for entry level) to exhorbitant (for the pro). Those ranges of functionality and cost largely translate to today’s prices and availability with the more popular cameras with lots of functions fetching considerably more.

Here are a few key questions to bear in mind when buying a Super 8mm camera:

  • How often are you going to use it?
  • Will you want to use negative film stocks?
  • Do you want full manual control?
  • Are variable frame rates important to you?
  • What is your price range?

Everyone has their favourite Super 8 camera – some prefer high quality lenses, some prefer manual controls, some want through the lens metering and some want something that is light and easily portable.

If you’re completely new to the format John Porter’s excellent¬†Super 8 School¬†will give you all the background to Super 8 cameras and their basic functionality.

A camera ideal for one person won’t necessarily be ideal for another. Over the following pages we’ll give you a few pointers as to what to look for to help select the one that is right for you.

Next, films speeds and notches…