Super 8 Cameras: Their History, Reviews of the Top 8mm Cameras, and Where to Buy in 2023

Super 8 Cameras: Their History, Reviews of the Top 8mm Cameras, and Where to Buy in 2023

Super 8 was an incredibly popular home movie format in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, lots of people still like the format for nostalgia, filmmaking, and collecting, but it’s not as easy to find a good Super 8 film camera as it used to be. 

Capture’s dedicated memory preservation experts put together a list of the best Super 8 cameras you can buy in 2023 and where to buy them as well as the history of the format. That way, you can get the best camera for your new memories while we digitize the older ones. 

Keep reading to learn about the advantages of Super 8, the top cameras you can still buy including models by Canon and Kodak, and where you can buy Super 8mm film and film cameras

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History of Super 8 Cameras

In 1965 Kodak introduced the Super 8 motion picture film format to improve upon their Cine 16mm and 8 mm film cameras. This made it cheaper and more affordable than its predecessors and paved the way for Super 8 sound recordings less than a decade later. 

The Super 8 film format, like 8mm film, is 8mm wide but offered continuous shooting of an entire 50-foot cartridge without flipping over and interrupting the footage. The plastic cartridge also reduced the likelihood of jamming and made operation easier than earlier film cameras

The result was the fact that more families than before could use Super 8 cameras to capture their most precious memories on film including holidays, graduations, weddings, and family reunions. In addition, amateur independent filmmakers began using Super 8 due to its easy operation, relatively high quality, and affordability. Some filmmakers still use Super 8 today because of the famous usage by some of the most famous Hollywood directors like Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. 

While Super 8 use was mostly replaced by the 1980s with the arrival of videotape formats, it is still possible to get a Super 8 camera today to experiment with the analog film format, experience nostalgia, and capture memories like you used to. 

Reviews of Top Super 8 Cameras

These are some of the top Super 8 cameras you can still buy in 2023, each one offering its own pros and cons as well as key features that you may want to use for yourself. 

Canon 1014 XL-S

This Canon model released in 1979 updated specifications from their earlier Canon 514XL model and is famous for being the first-ever Super 8 camera with a CPU that allowed electronic sequence control. In addition, it offers an innovative superimposed viewfinder display, automatic lap dissolve, interval shooting, and other revolutionary features for home movies and professional films alike. 

Plus, it’s an upgrade to the auto zoom system first introduced over a decade earlier in the Canon Auto Zoom 814 Super 8. Not only that, but it’s very durable and offers a highly advanced sound quality with audio level control and more while still being easier to use than many alternatives. Plus, it offers slow-motion functionality that’s a lot of fun to play around with. 

Users and reviewers appreciate the 10x zoom that’s much better than other popular options like the Canon 310XL Super. Other enthusiasts mention the easy, non-invasive handheld design that was similar to videotape camcorders of the era. In fact, this is widely considered to be among the best Super 8 cameras ever made. 

Pros

  • Advanced viewfinder info including aperture, exposure warnings, low power, sound recording level, and more 
  • Manual aperture control 
  • Built-in timer with 10 or 20-second delay and interval timer for one frame per 1, 5, 20, or 60 seconds 
  • Modern camcorder design 

Cons

  • Viewfinder could be clearer
  • Lens scratches easily 

Beaulieu 4008 ZM II

 

This 1971 Super 8 movie film camera is known as one of the best Super 8mm camera options to ever be produced. In fact, it was made specifically as a silent Super 8 movie camera and is still popular among short film enthusiasts. The reason it’s so cherished is because the lens quality is exceptional and the camera itself is highly customizable.

For example, this Beaulieu 4008 ZM II has interchangeable lenses, macro zoom, and adjustable frame rate with several options between single frame and 70 fps. There are also tons of great accessories and adapters designed for this prized collector’s item. The viewfinder has indicators for film transport, exposure, and battery check as well. 

The one downside of this awesome camera is that it can be quite expensive, especially when you want an additional zoom lens or other accessories. In fact, for a good, refurbished option, you could pay $1200 or more. However, you may be able to find one for $400 to $500 too. 

Pros

  • Highly customizable for professional video quality 
  • Frame rates of single frame, 2, 4, 8, 18, 24, 36, 50, and 70 fps 
  • Fantastic viewfinder with diopter correction and exposure indicators 
  • Great iconic design

Cons

  • No sound ability
  • Expensive 

Nizo 801 Macro

This easy-to-use model from 1975 was made in Germany by Braun and offered a wide variety of Tungsten and Daylight exposure index settings. It is easy to use and influences newer Panasonic and Sankyo cameras because the variable shutter and automatic lapse system made it easier to go from 6 frames per second to one frame per minute with the flip of a switch. 

One of the best things about this camera is its durability with the heavy-duty aluminum casing that allows you to take it anywhere without worry. The viewfinder is clear with manual and split image focusing. Plus, the handle and remote-control sockets make it easy to use for multiple purposes. 

The lens on this model is prone to flare because the glass is so close to the lens. The sound quality is okay and significantly better than earlier 8mm cameras but will not rival later Super 8 cameras like the Nikon R8.

Pros

  • Easy to use with a comfortable handle
  • Innovative automatic lapse system 
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Lens shows flares easily so not great for all lighting
  • Sound quality is below average for a mid-70s Super 8 camera


Kodak Instamatic M4 Movie Camera

This Kodak Super 8 film stock camera came out earlier than the others on our list and was released in the mid 60s. With a Kodak Ektachrome lens, daylight filter, and easy to use design that made it simple to insert and remove film cartridges, this model propelled the industry forward. 

It’s affordable and easy to find these days as well. Plus, it’s one of the easiest Super 8 cameras to use with minimal buttons and switches. That means it’s just about as close to point and shoot as you can get. One of the coolest things about this camera is the interchangeability and multi-purpose lighting system that can accept all sorts of flashes. 

The design is not as comfortable as competing models by Eumig or Minolta, but the high-quality and easy-to-use design as well as the affordability is what lands this above those on this list. It also doesn’t allow for easy lens changing like later 70s models. 

Pros

  • Affordable in 2023
  • Easy to use (perfect for beginners)
  • Great flash customizability 

Cons

  • Not comfy to use 
  • No easy lens changing ability 


Bauer C900XLM

This model was released in 1982 and uses silent or sound Super 8 film cartridges. It offers a zoom ratio of 8.5x and manual split image focusing. The adjustable lens, viewfinder, and modern camcorder design make this one of the best Super 8 cameras you can buy simply because it is built upon the older models that came before it like the Bolex H-8 and Nizo 801. 

The camera has a back-light function as well as a slow-motion option and can utilize remote control or headphone plug-ins. It’s compact, lightweight, and closer to modern digital cameras than others on our list as far as usability, aesthetics, and design. 

Negative reviews typically point out the inadequate zoom function that’s not as good as some competitors. In addition, it may be harder to find in great condition because it’s not exceptionally durable, probably because of the many features contained in the small case.

Pros

  • Modern compact design 
  • Adjustable lens 
  • Excellent viewfinder 
  • Good sound quality 

Cons

  • The zoom function isn’t great 
  • Not durable and may be hard to find in great condition 

Where to Buy Super 8 Cameras in 2023

While vintage Super 8 cameras aren’t as easy to find as they used to be, you can still find them online or in-person if you know where to look. Here are some of the options that you may want to consider if you’re in the market for a pre-owned or refurbished Super 8 camera. 

Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Facebook Marketplace can be a great way to find affordable Super 8 cameras. While these places may be a little riskier when it comes to the condition and are less likely to have rare options, they are typically active with affordable options coming and going at all times. 

Online Camera Retailers

There are online camera stores as well that sell a wide variety of Super 8 cameras, video cameras, Tri-X negative film, auto exposure cameras, and much more. Some may even have new Super 8 cameras! Some popular options include KEH camera, Adorama, and B&H Photo Video. 

Local Camera Shops

Don’t forget to check your local camera and photography shops. While a lot of these places will only sell certain types of cameras or only modern and new accessories, they may know how to help you find specific Super 8 camera models as well. 

Antique Stores and Garage Sales

It can be an adventure to look for Super 8 cameras at second-hand stores, antique stores, and garage sales. You may even find the perfect camera for an affordable price from one of your neighbors. In addition, try checking the classified ads for potential camera sales from local photographers or members of your community. 

Conclusion 

Super 8 cameras were once the most popular way to capture family memories. While that may not be the case anymore, they’re still a fun, nostalgic, and unique way to capture new memories. Just make sure you do your research when comparing different options because some have special features that make them easier to use, offer higher quality, or are simply available at a cheaper price. 

Whether you’re capturing new memories or have Super 8 film lying around from decades ago, Capture can preserve your memories for future generations. Digital copies are easier to enjoy, share, and cherish over and over again. Click here to learn about our film transfer services! 

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