It was previewed at CES last year, but the final details of the Kodak Super 8 camera have finally been released. We managed to try it out on the Kodak stand at CES 2017 and find out just how it merges the world of film and digital film making.
They say ‘nostalgia sells’ and with this in mind Kodak hasn’t steered too far from the look and feel of a late 1970s Super 8 camera. The design is very box-like, with the traditional leaning handle protruding from the bottom of the camera. It even has a retro style monochrome Kodak logo on the side. Throw in the top mounted handle and it would be easy, from a distance, to mistake this for a genuine vintage camera.
However, on closer inspection the camera has some extremely modern twists. The fold-out LCD screen is the most obvious inclusion. But even the screen gives you the feel of using a vintage product. The electronic image can only be created when light reaches the sensor when the shutter is open. As a result there is a slight flicker on the display, just like we typically associate with cine film projections.
The LCD screen also provides the camera’s menu options, which are controlled with an Apple iPod style control wheel and centre button. As standard Super 8mm film doesn’t record audio, the Kodak camera has a built-in microphone and an SD card socket. Audio is captured and saved to the card automatically, with markers on the edge of the film so that the audio can be synced when processing. There are also headphone and microphone sockets, a LANC socket – to add an external trigger button – and even an HDMI out for the digital display. Speaking of triggers, there’s one situated on the camera’s handle, another on the top of the camera body, and a further one on the top mounted handle.
Powering the camera is a 7,200 mAh internal battery. The battery is quoted as being able to shoot around 12 Super 8mm cartridges before you will need to use micro USB to recharge it. Recharging to full from empty takes about 3.5 hours.
Optically, the camera has a C-Mount, and there is obviously a wealth of old lenses that can be used with it. Packaged with the camera is a Ricoh 6mm f1.2, which is around the equivalent of a 35mm lens on a full frame sensor camera. Kodak was showing off various third-party mount lenses used via C-mount adapters, which could create some interesting lens combinations. Just remember that the crop factor compared to 35mm is around 6x, so a 50mm lens mounted to the Kodak Super 8 camera will be the equivalent of using 300mm lens on a full frame DSLR. Similarly a 300mm lens will be 1,800mm equivalent, but we wouldn’t suggest that. If you do give it a try, we suggest you remove the handle from the bottom of the camera and use the tripod mount.
The big question is about Super 8mm film stock – exactly what is available? Kodak list a number of Super 8mm films on their website, and the camera takes standard Super 8 50 FT / 15 M cartridges and can shoot at 18, 24, 25 or 36 FPS. Once the film has been shot you can send it to Kodak and they will process the film for you and return it – just like the good ol’days. They will also scan and upload the film to their online customer portal. There will be more details on this system in the coming months.
It won’t be long before the Kodak Super 8 camera hits the shelves, with it expected to start shipping in Spring 2017. And the price? Cost for the basic black or white version of the camera has not yet been decided, but there is a limited edition Space Grey version, with a leather finish on the grip (which you can see in our video above). This version will cost around US $2,000.
They say ‘nostalgia sells’ but at $2,000 it will be interesting to see how much it will sell. Nonetheless, the Kodak Super 8 camera seems like a genuinely interesting product that takes the best features of 8mm cine cameras and combines them with the modern convenience of digital filmmaking. I can’t wait to try it out.
For the full details of the Kodak Super 8 camera see the Kodak website