Fifty years ago, Kodak introduced its first Super 8mm movie camera. More recently, we've seen devices with a retro form factor and "organic" picture quality inspired by classic Super 8 cameras, but that still record on modern digital video. This week at CES, however, Kodak revealed a prototype of its first new Super 8 film camera in over 30 years. Known simply as the Kodak Super 8 camera (for now), it combines analog and digital features.
Like the Super 8 cameras of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, the Kodak camera records on cartridges that each hold 50 ft (15 m) of celluloid film – that's enough for about three minutes of footage. Users ship each cartridge off to Kodak when it's used up, where it's processed and digitally converted to video. The processed film will then be mailed back to the user, although they will also receive a passcode to retrieve the digital version of the footage from the cloud … after all, they're not likely to own an analog Super 8 projector, editing machine or splicer.
Audio can be recorded onto an onboard SD card using an included plug-in mic – this means that the sound and pictures will have to be synced up in editing. There's also a flip-out 3.5-inch LCD viewfinder that receives an SD video feed, along with ports for plugging in peripheral electronic devices such as headphones.
Created by industrial designer Yves Behar at San Francisco-based design firm FuseProject, the camera itself features a machined-metal body with leather trim on the carrying handle and add-on pistol grip, along with the ability to swap between multiple C-mount lenses (it will come with an included Ricoh 6-mm 1:1.2 lens). There will be two color choices – midnight black and bone china.
It can shoot at frame rates of 9, 12, 18, 24 and 25 fps, has a built-in light meter, and allows for manual control of focus and aperture. Additionally, a variety of film stocks will be available, so users can pick and choose based on shooting conditions or the "look" that they're going for.
The camera is one component of the company's just-announced Kodak Super 8 Revival Initiative, which will reportedly also include "a range of cameras, film development services, post production tools and more."
No exact figures have been provided regarding its price. According to a Kodak rep we spoke to, however, a premium edition model should initially be available (likely late this year) for around US$1,000 or higher, with a lower-priced version following in the $400 to $700 range. In a report in the Wall Street Journal, Kodak's chief executive Jeff Clarke estimates that the film cartridges should go for $50 to $75 a pop.
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