Super 8 cameras are an older, but still somewhat popular, type of movie film camera. Some models can be purchased at relatively little expense, and they are not difficult to find. They have been manufactured by a wide variety of brand names, such as Yashica, GAF, Bentley, and Vivitar. There are even film festivals devoted to this type of camera.
FEATURES: The features and quality of Super 8 cameras varies substantially depending upon the model. Some units have an adjustable aperture (f-stop) for different lighting conditions, while others are fixed at a particular aperture, or have an aperture which adjusts automatically. A tripod socket can be a useful feature, but only if you have a fairly large, good-quality metal tripod capable of supporting this type of camera and reaching an appropriate height. These cameras also vary in size, some being more portable than others. Other features of some Super 8 cameras include zoom magnification, focus controls, and switchable telephoto/wide-angle lens (the Bell & Howell 309 has this). Many less-expensive Super 8 cameras lack sound capability; you may want to purchase a portable cassette recorder and blank tapes, so that the audio can be separately recorded to a cassette tape.
ACCESSORIES, POWER: Useful Super 8 camera accessories include lens caps, protective cases, carrying straps, microphones, and tripods. Other items to look for which are sometimes included with these cameras include the original instruction manual, blank film, and batteries. Most cameras of this type run on batteries, while some can optionally be powered with an AC adapter. Several camera models, like the Canon 514XL, run on only two “AA” batteries, while many others require four.
FILM FESTIVALS: The Taos Bentley Super 8 Film Festival, which takes place in New Mexico, lets people submit unedited three-minute Super 8 films. Some winning films and entries can be viewed in the “Archives” section of their website, taosbentley.org. There is also a Bentley Film Festival in Kansas City; some information can be found at the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City website, ifckc.org.
BUYING: In addition to eBay.com auctions, it is not uncommon to find Super 8 cameras at garage sales, thrift shops, and used merchandise stores. Although this format has existed for so many years, Super 8 supplies and camera equipment are still being produced. According to wikipedia.org, Kodak Super 8 film is still in production, a British store chain called “Jessops” sells Super 8 film, and Super 8 cameras & film are still being manufactured in North Korea. The Kodak website offers several different types of Super 8 film, and provides a substantial amount of technical information on it.