8mm film – Considering costs for using 8mm film

As you might remember, I started experimenting with my LEICINA SPECIAL Super8 camera and finally made it to send in the first cartridge of Super8 8mm film material for development. I used Kodak Tri-X black & white Reversal Film and chose Wittner Cinetec in Germany as a service provider. About 2 weeks after sending my material I received the developed film. 

8mm - developed 8mm film material - 1
8mm – developed 8mm film material – 1

Costs to shot, develop and digitise 8mm film

A 50ft (15m, around 3.5 minutes at 25 fps) cartridge costs 25€ to develop including shipping costs. Considering the 22€ to 40€ for the material, it basically sums up to 13.42 € to 18.58 € per minute. Additional costs might come up for digitisation of the film for digital post processing.

A few month ago, I already compiled a list of service providers for digitising my 8mm film. I will either go with retrofilms.de or schmalfilm-archiv.de. Booth offer frame-by-frame scanning as single image files with a resolution of 2K. Looking at their price list, I expect this to set me back another 0.60 € per meter of material and additional costs of up to 7.50 € for a 120m film spool plus 6.90 € for shipping.

8mm - developed 8mm film material - 2
8mm – developed 8mm film material – 2

In the worst case of just digitising one spool, this might add up to 23.40 €. For lets say 8 15m film spools (resulting in 120m of material) it would add up to 86,40 € and 10.80 € per spool. This would add up to 20.10 € to 25.26 € per minute with one spool and 16.50 € to 21.66 € per minute with 8 spools all costs considered. That’s not cheap.

I am not sure how much filmed material is usually produced for 1 minute of finally used material in an amateur film setting. At a relation of 1 to 8, a 3,5 minute amateur 8mm movie might add up needing 28 minutes of raw material resulting in costs of 462.00 € to 606.48 € depending on the used film just to get the shot material developed and digitised. That’s 132.00 € to 173.28 € per minute. Not cheap at all.

My Super8 8mm Experiment – Getting film material

Unfortunately the variety of 8mm film material still available has decreased over the past years. The popular Kodachrome was discontinued in 2009 and even its processing ended in 2013.

Kodachrome (English version) from schmalfilm magazin on Vimeo.

Although points of sale are increasingly difficult to find, there are some dealers left, Wittner Cinetec in Germany for example. One can choose from the current Kodak Vision3 lineup (500T, 200T and 50D for color negative film and Kodak Tri-X Reversal Film for b/w. Currently, there are some Kodak Ektachrome films left, which have been discontinued in 2013. Wittner also seems to produce 8mm film or at least package cartridges, utilizing materials from Agfa, Fuji, Aviphot, Orwo and Fomapan.

A 50ft (around 3.5 minutes at 25 fps) cartridge costs between 22€ and 40€ with an additional 25€ for development by Wittner. One can easily order cartridges with a coupon for the corresponding development which is valid for 12 months. For testing purposes I ordered some cartridges to try them out with my LEICINA SPECIAL.

kodak-8mm-cartridges

The transfer of 8mm motion picture film into a digital format will be a different story, though. It seems, there is no easy way to this yourself at all, if you are serious about preserving the optical characteristics of the film.

Here are some videos shot with the LEICINA SPECIAL on Vimeo.

My Super8 8mm Experiment – LEICINA SPECIAL

Last time I visited my parents, I took the LEICINA SPECIAL with me. It’s a Super8 8mm film camera produced by Ernst Leitz GmbH in Germany between 1972 and 1977. Ernst Leitz GmbH is the former corporation of Leica Camera AG.

leicina-special-1

The LEICINA SPECIAL records on 8mm film cartridges up to 50ft in length at frame rates of 9,18 25 and 54 as well single frame with automatic exposure (Leicinamatic) with manual focus and macro ability.

It comes with a Optivaron f1.8/6-66mm lense. There also was a Macro Cinegon f1.8/10mm lense at the time, but I don’t have it. Particularly interesting for my taste is the lense mount of the LEICINA SPECIAL. It’s a M-bayonet mount, making it compatible to all Leica M lenses available. I also have adapters to use Nikon and Leica R lenses.

Regarding accessories, I have the ST-1 Electronic Controller, featuring a remote controller, intervalometer, sequence timer, sound synch tone generator and a connector for tape recorders. In addition there are a variety of Cokin filters with a filter mount for optical effects at my disposal.

leicina-special-3

leicina-special-2

leicina-special-4

I will get some 8mm film cartridges and try it out. First mechanical tests keep me optimistic, since everything seems to work just fine.