CES 2017: Hands-on with Kodak Super 8
First launched in 1965, Kodak’s Super 8 format was one of the most influential developments in amateur filmmaking. And now it’s back, with an all-new (kind of) camera. We headed to the Kodak booth earlier today to get our hands on one.
The new Super 8 camera is truly a hybrid of the very old, and the very new. At its heart is a cartridge of 8mm film, totaling 50 feet in length. How many minutes of footage you can shoot depends on which frame-rate you select. The Super 8 camera can shoot at 18, 24, 25, or 36 fps.
The ‘viewfinder’ is a 3.5in LCD, which provides a live view image, via a split-prism behind the attached lens. Although a large flipping, tilting screen is definitely a huge improvement over classic all-analog Super 8 cameras of the past, the live view image is hazy, grainy, and hard to use as a means of judging critical focus. In other words – pretty familiar, if you’ve ever shot Super 8 before.
The main control on the Super 8 camera is the circular ‘wheel’, shown here on the body, facing the flipped-out screen. It works rather like a second-generation iPod. The central button brings up a menu, and the touch-sensitive wheel allows you to navigate the settings by scrolling. The screen itself is not touch-sensitive.
Super 8 cameras will be bundled with a manual focus Ricoh 6mm F1.2 prime lens (roughly equivalent to a 40mm F7 in 35mm terms) but the C-mount is compatible with a huge number of lenses stretching back decades.
Here’s that click wheel in action. The Super 8 is reasonably customizable. Many of the features that would have been managed with physical switches in the past (like frame rate) can be set in the camera’s menus. As a result, the camera body is impressively clean and minimalist.
The Super 8 is a true ‘hybrid’ device. While the film takes care of the images, sound can be recorded to an SD card, via an external microphone. Cartridges must be mailed back to Kodak for development, and the price (TBC) will include film development, scanning and uploading to the cloud.
Oh yes – and Kodak has also promised to bring back Ektachrome!
It feels a bit surreal to be covering the launch of new film products in 2017, especially from Kodak, but after using an almost production-ready sample of the Super 8 camera today we’re actually pretty impressed by how well the company has married the analog and digital sides of the product. What do you think?