How To Shoot Super 8mm Film

With vintage film frame overlays and analog grain making a comeback into mainstream filmmaking, lots of creators have begun to experiment with shooting on film stock itself.

One of the most accessible and user-friendly film formats is Super 8 Film. It’s generally affordable, easy to find, and it provides that authentic film look that’s become so trendy. Many older home movies were shot in this format, before digital cameras were around.

In the video above, I demonstrate just how easy it is to get started with Super 8mm film.

Inexpensive, used Super 8mm cameras, such as those made by Canon, Sony, and Kodak, and film can be readily found on sites like eBay or Pro8mm.

I use a Canon 310 XL, but this general setup and process will be similar for any handheld film camera.
All you need to add to the camera are AA batteries and a blank film cartridge (ektachrome is a popular brand). This is usually a pretty easy step.

Now, once your camera is turned on, you’ll need to adjust a few settings:

– Set your focus distance
– Set the exposure for “inside” or “outside” (basically an ISO setting)
– Set your viewfinder focus (so it’s clear to your eyes)

You’re now ready to film, which is done by depressing the trigger button below the lens. You’ll hear a clicking sound when the camera is filming (usually at a frame rate of 18 fps), and filming in short bursts will be key to maximizing your film. You can also look on the side of the camera for a small, numbered bar to see how much film you have left. A reel of film should last about 3 minutes at 18fps.

Be sure to use the auto zoom in/zoom out function to capture that authentic home video look!

Once you’ve finished your reel of film, you simply need to send it off to get developed and digitized, and then you’re done! With a bit of practice, I’ve been able to pretty closely replicate my grandpa’s old 8mm film. Take a look for yourself!

The idea of shooting actual film can be intimidating for some, which is why 8mm is the perfect format for beginners and first time film shooters. It’s cheap, available, and easy to use, and if you follow these steps, you’ll be shooting motion picture film like a pro in no time.

Caleb Rexius is the Founder and Lead Cinematographer at Filmpac.

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