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Difference Between Regular 8mm Film and Super 8mm Film
Regular 8mm and Super 8mm film are the most widely used film formats of all time. Super 8mm is considered an easy but high quality alternative to Regular 8mm. Often, Super 8 and 8mm are terms used interchangeably. However, there are key points that differentiate one from the other.
Eastman Kodak introduced Regular 8mm to the market in 1932 as a cheaper alternative to 16mm. Soon after, it became a popular format for home movies and low-cost film productions. More than three decades later, Kodak introduced the Super 8mm, which, as its name suggests, is a hybrid of the Regular 8mm. It was capable of recording sound and offered improvements in both image quality and ease of use and thus became the preferred low-cost format. In the 1980s, with the advent of VHS and VCR cassettes, 8mm Super and Regular suffered significant reductions in consumer preference.
Super 8mm have sprocket holes that cover only fifty percent of the width required by regular 8mm films. Therefore, it allows the area of Super 8mm film to be larger than that of regular 8mm. This allows Super 8mm to capture more detail. Physically, Regular 8mm films can be differentiated from Super 8mm films by the size of its sprocket holes. Regular 8mm sprocket holes are larger and run up and down each frame while Super 8mm have smaller sprocket holes that are aligned in the center of each frame.
In terms of usage, regular 8mm film is shot on 16mm film and passed through the camera twice. This involves passing the film through the camera once and exposing half of it, then the film is turned over and back through the camera to expose the second half. In processing, the film is split down the center and tied at the ends, making a single roll of 8mm film that is twice the length of the original 16mm roll. Using Super 8mm film is less cumbersome because it loads easily into a camera and is sold in ready-to-use cartridges instead of spools which require threading. Super 8mm film only passes through the camera once since it is originally 8mm film.
Transferring a regular or super 8mm DVD requires you to inspect them for scratches and lines as well as other defects. Some of them are repairable but some are not. Films stored in humid environments are more likely to contain mold, mildew or fungus. Usually starting at the edges, it gradually works its way into the emulsion, damaging the film. Damage can be stopped with chemicals, especially if contained in the outer edges. Damage in the emulsion can also be removed, but it usually destroys the film irreversibly.
Another problem that arises with decades of time is shrinkage. You can test it manually by comparing 100 strips of the film you want to test and 100 frames of a new film or a new white leader. A shrink gauge can be loaned by the Association of Moving Image Archivists, but you must be a member. Shrinkage greater than 0.8% can damage the film if loaded onto a projector. 2% shrinkage means the film cannot be recovered by even the most skilled professionals.
Most people transfer their Regular and Super 88mm movies to DVD for better and more convenient viewing. If you’re still clinging to those decades-old media, wait no more. Memories are precious, so it’s best to make sure these once-in-a-lifetime events are recorded in a digital format that lets you enjoy them to the fullest and won’t degrade.
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