06 Jan 2016

Surprise new Super 8 camera from Kodak

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Kodak's latest Super 8 camera:  industrial design by Yves Behar Kodak's latest Super 8 camera: industrial design by Yves Behar Kodak/RedShark

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Here is something nobody was expecting in the slightest: Kodak made an announcement at CES that it is going to make a new digital/analogue hybrid Super 8 camera.

This has come as a bolt out of the blue as its only a few months since committed users of the tiny format were posting on forums worried that Kodak might discontinue making Tri-X. Tri-X is the last reversal film available from Kodak and is essential for those who like to develop their film and project the camera original and there was a real concern that Super 8 might be fading away as Kodak seemed less and less interested in the format.

The gloom surrounding the future of the format and the future of film seems to be rapidly drifting away however with all the sudden changes at Kodak. It seems like the sleeping giant has finally woken up with a big revamp of its website promoting all the new films shot on Kodak stock. Kodak now even has a soundcloud account with podcasts around the subject of film:

The new Super 8 camera is the first Super 8 camera that Kodak has made since 1982 when consumers switched to video tape formats such as Video8 for their home movies. The new camera will not be aimed at the home movie market however but more at film schools who should be able to buy a few cameras for their students to work with. Film is still very useful in an educational context as it really forces people to think carefully about what they are doing, be careful with their shooting ratios and to be more creative in the edit.

The price of the new camera is expected to be between $400 and $750 so it's possible that students could even get their own personal camera to use while they are studying and Kodak is expecting the camera might also appeal to experimental film artists and others that still work with Super 8 for more commercial purposes. There is even talk that there might be a follow up Super 8 camera in 2017 with a more limited feature set and a lower price tag again.

The new camera has quite a few interesting features that set it well apart from Super 8 cameras made in the past. It is a digital/analogue hybrid product that records digital audio to SD cards alongside the film and will have a digital viewfinder. It also has a stylish modern design thanks to the help of industrial designer Yves Behar who is working on the overall look of the camera.

The camera will also feature a "Max 8" gate which uses the space that used to be reserved for a magnetic soundtrack to capture a wider image. This makes it possible to film for a 16:9 aspect ratio with much less cropping and makes even more efficient use of the film available in a standard super 8 cartridge. It has a range of shooting speeds which are all crystal locked: 9, 12, 18, 24, 25 FPS. Apparently the people at Logmar are involved in designing the insides of the camera.

It's not just new Super 8 cameras however but Kodak is also planning to make available a whole new easy to use workflow where you buy the film process paid and then shoot it and send it in to Kodak. they will process the film and return it back to you by post with a password to download a digital copy from the internet. This is expected to cost about $50 per cartridge.

The first new Super 8 cameras will be launched as a limited-edition and are expected to be out in late 2016.

Press release after the break.

 

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Freya Black

Freya Black is a Freelance writer, director, cinematographer and artist based in the UK, (the land of cold winters and rainy days). She believes cinematography is all about creating magic through light. Her all time favorite film is "Freaks" by Todd Browning. Freya is a big fan of chocolate, owls and the night.

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