Cinematography : Nolab's Digital Super 8 cartridge is kind of cool by Kevin Tumlinson

Nolab's Digital Super 8 cartridge is kind of cool

I still own at least three Super 8 cameras, so I'd love to get one of these. It's a 5MP sensor tuned to Super 8's shutter speed and 4:3 aspect ratio. Shoots 720p HD. Kind of a "neat to have," but I know some indies are still shooting on Super 8, so maybe it has some practical value.

Nolab Digital Super 8 Cartridge to Breathe New Life into Old Super 8 Film Cameras
Nolab Digital Super 8 Cartridge to Breathe New Life into Old Super 8 Film Cameras
A lot of film people have deep connections to Super 8 cameras, once the medium of choice for everyone from film school students to porn directors. But it's getting harder and harder to actually use th…
Hunter Mossman

This is brilliant. I was wondering when Someone might make something like this. This product might be the tipping point for me to drag out my old super 8 gear. Thanks for the post!

Kevin Tumlinson

I love the idea of bringing old tech back to life, and giving a new purpose. I can't wait to play around with this!

Andrew Sobkovich

Converting film cameras to accept electronic sensors is not new. Joe Dunton showed a 35mm film camera using an electronic sensor or “magazine” over a decade ago at NAB. The Aaton Penelope Delta project was coming along nicely a few years ago but is gone. The concept is ok and has some merits, ergonomics being perhaps the most important. 8mm and Super 8mm cameras did not have the best lenses. They were made to a low price point for an amateur market. This will compromise the images. Making this module should be relatively easy, but with the limitations of bad native ergonomics, 720P and old cheap glass, I would have to guess that the results may not be of particularly high quality. As always doing your own tests gives you real information about things like actual image resolution, latitude, and colour reproduction. It will probably not have much impact among professional DPs however it will be considered “cute” so may well find a market.

Mike Chinea

Love my 8mm and Super8s. Own 5, 1 in working order. Nothing can replace them for those nostalgic flashbacks.

Greg McDonald

I'm not sure I understand how this camera works - does it actually expose a frame of film where there's a digital sensor right behind the film frame that then captures the exposed film frame onto the digital sensor in real time - like a sort of in-camera telecine? Or is there no film at all, and it's just using the camera optics to capture onto the digital sensor where then some kind of film-look filter is applied to the recorded image?

Andrew Sobkovich

There would be no film. A super 8 film cartridge, typically 50’, is a sealed co-axial magazine containing the raw film stock. The cartridge is loaded into a camera body which has the film gate with registration to hold the film in place, a method to advance the film, a mechanical shutter to close to allow time for the film to advance to the next frame, and an optical system that contains a lens and a viewfinder of some sort. This cartridge is probably replaced by an electronic camera with a sensor processing, storage and power, that is then synced to the camera body’s mechanical shutter probably using the pull down system for info on shutter position. When the shutter is closed the info on the sensor would be off-loaded. There have been and are many electronic cameras that use a mechanical shutter to allow for a period of no light during which the info on the sensor is transferred off of the sensor and into the processing then storage sections of the camera. The Sony F65 is one, but there are many. The all allows for the use of the optical system, shutter and ergonomics of the Super 8 camera with an electronic sensor and storage. For the camera to use film, the film would have to be processed almost instantly. Even Polavision, the motion picture film from Polaroid, needed a bit of time to self process. Any film in this method seems quite unlikely.

Greg McDonald

Okay, that's what I thought. Thanks for clarifying. I didn't think it'd be possible to actually use film. I don't know, I like the idea but it seems like the filters in-camera might not be any better than just using filters in post.

Royce Allen Dudley

That's the lone article I ever saw... over 2 years ago. Anything to suggest this development project isn't 100% dead ? My Beaulieu would love to know...

Mike Chinea

Here's the last thing I shot with a very noisy Super8:

Patrick Steemers

Hi there, we ventured out to develop a prototype digital super8 cartridge, being frustrated the Nolab project never made it. It's a 3D printed cartridge that holds the Ximea Mu9 camera which is triggered to take 1 image each time the claw passes the IR sensor of our own developed shutter sync circuit board. Also developed software and UI to control capture, settings and to process the RAW 16 or 8 bit images, colorgraded them and render 18 or 24 fps video. This solution requires 2 minor and reversible adaptations to your super8 camera. See sample video shot with Nizo 481 at 640x480 and 720p at: See for more info also: and for explanatory video.

Andrew Sobkovich

Gene there is not really much in common between a Super 8mm film camera and a Digital 8 electronic camera. The images are very different.

Absolutely test the camera you have first. Shoot some scenes in locations and in set-ups similar to what you think you will be faced with. Cut them together. Does it look the way you think it should to tell your story. The look being what you envision is the first and most important step. Trying what you have just makes sense. See what you can do with it in post. When you watch the edited scenes being honest with yourself will answer your question about using the camera.

Rohit Kumar

Gene Biagio Adesso Andrew Sobkovich It's 5 year old post. Hope you guys noticed. Isn't Kodak Super 8 was about to release last year and now they halted the project. I am still so into those still run this have to get my hands on those :-) It really so photography craving camera :-)

Andrew Sobkovich

Rohit I did see the age of the original thread, however Gene's question was only a few days ago and was worth commenting upon, first on the very slight chance there was any confusion between the Kodak film camera and the Sony Electronic one. But secondly to comment that there are times when the specif style of images a piece of gear makes fit with the storytelling. If that is the case, then who cares what it is, it does the job on screen.

That this is a zombie thread is fine. Zombies are my people so I relate.

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