Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ektachrome 100D

I popped in the cartridge of 100D without checking any notches or worrying about the filter switch.

I had a good feeling about this. It's dusk here so I wasn't super confident about the light, but we usually have beautiful skies here in Brooklyn this time of day.

I began shooting a hand-painted sign outside of my building. I felt the rumble of the motor and the world looks fantastic through a camera. I took my finger off the button to end my first shot, the shot that would be the beginning of this experiment.

Unfortunately, the motor didn't stop running. I couldn't figure out how to get it to turn off. I assumed the film was being exposed this whole time. My first shot would not end. I tried to hurry inside artistically. I tried to shoot some things in the living room like plants, a sculpture, and myself in the mirror. It took that long to remember that I could stop it by taking out the batteries. That's what I did.

I put the battery back in and it started up again immediately, the camera button still locked depressed. I took the battery out again and tried to jostle the cartridge, a terrible idea. Then I removed the cartridge, an even terribler idea. I popped it back in place, put the battery back in, and pressed the now back to normal button.

There was a click. The camera began to rumble again. I took my finger off the button. The rumble stopped.

At this point I assumed whatever I had done to the cartridge by taking it out and popping it back in had done the trick. I took aim on the sky through the kitchen window and pressed it again. The button stuck on again.

Here are my assumptions.

The camera isn't even moving the film forward at all. The reason the button sticks, is because the film is jammed in the camera. This means, that I am shooting nothing and the camera is either busted or really doesn't read this film AT ALL.


The camera is running and it is jamming from the film type it isn't built for. I will have loads of shots of the floor and such during the periods when I was trying to take out the batteries to shut it down.

Neither of these possibilities is very good. I guess I would prefer to have it shoot and not stop and require the removal of a battery to stop the shot, than have it be totally uselessly stalled and jammed.

I think ideally I would like it to mean that when it engages and disengages properly, it is shooting properly and when it doesn't engage properly it isn't shooting or exposing any film. Fat chance of that though.

It sure will be embarrassing to hand this roll over to someone to develop.

To Hack or Not Hack

That is the question.

I have batteries in the camera and I'm ready to test out the film.
The question is should I make a notch in the film cartridges so that I can control the internal 85 filter in my camera?

This video will show what I'm talking about:

This webpage,, goes into detail about the notch issues of cameras and cartridges.

I have to admit this is kind of over my head and I might just waste 30 dollars and shoot this film I bought without altering the cartridges at all and see what happens.

For the 85 filter, Kodak suggests that for older cameras "with the daylight balanced 100D Film, it will be necessary to disengage this filter. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, this is accomplished by setting the manual exposure setting to the tungsten setting (the bulb icon), no matter what conditions you are shooting under."

On this camera the tungsten switch on disengages the filter and the lack of a notch on the 100D cartrisge would disengage the filter anyway.  Let's just pop in the 100D and go for it and see what happens.

Onward to the unknown.

Buying Film

So, we're starting from the assumption that this camera is useless and won't work.
That's fine with me.  I bought it for a dollar.  The question is, are the people online calling it useless because they are professional film makers or serious Super 8 hobbyists, when in reality a slightly over or underexposed film isn't that bad for someone who is just trying to see what Super 8's all about?  I decided to get some film and just try it.  I know it is possible I am going to waste a hand full of cash doing this, but hey, it's fun.

As I began my search for film it became fairly obvious that it wasn't the hardest thing in the world to obtain, especially since the first place I checked, B&H, had several different kinds of film in color and black and white. 

I couldn't find this "64T" film that I had read about.  Also, Kodak does not currently make Super 8 film with sound.  Bummer. B&H does have the current four kinds of film Kodak sells however. 
It is possible to buy old kinds of film on eBay and such, but I am not ready to spend the money on that, and it seems I'd have to process the old stock myself too, and that's not gonna happen just yet.

I bought Ektachrome 100D and Tri-X Black and White Reversal, one cartridge each.  I'll stay away from the slightly more expensive film for now.


The first film I bought is the Ektachrome 100D.  This is one of the films that apparently the Ektasound 130 won't be able to use properly.  I could not find specifics on the web about what effect 100D will have in a auto-exposure non-TTL camera.  At the bottom of this page, there is a link to a page at Kodak which states the following:

"Color Balance and Filtration with Older S8 Cameras
Many cameras utilize an internal conversion filter to convert daylight illumination into a tungsten balance. This
amber-colored filter is be placed into the optical path when the manual selector is placed on the sun setting (the sun icon). With the daylight balanced 100D Film, it will be necessary to disengage this filter. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, this is accomplished by setting the manual exposure setting to the tungsten setting (the bulb icon), no matter what conditions you are shooting under. If you will be using 100D Film under tungsten illumination, we recommend the use of an 80A external filter.
Consult the camera manufacturer's manual for specific information on your camera's operation."

So, if I'm able to somehow disengage the internal 85 filter (the "conversion filter") on my camera, it seems the daylight film should work.  I see this as good news.  Now, I just need to figure out how to keep the camera on the Tungsten setting.

Tri-X Reversal Film 7266

This film is a mystery to me.  Since I am not a photographer or cinematographer, I have no idea what all the numbers and stuff mean on this box.  Also, I have not seen reference to this film in any of the discussions of how new Kodak film works, or doesn't,  in the old auto-exposure cameras.  I guess I'm just going to pop this one in and see how it goes.  My guess is that it won't be exposed properly because my camera can't handle the speed or something, but I have no idea how to figure that out in advance, so fuck it, let's try it.

Time to go buy batteries.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Problem with Film for the Ektasound 130

After I knew I would be getting my Kodak Ektasound 130, I began to look at film stock to determine what I would need to begin my amazing cinematography career.   It quickly became apparent that the reason the GAF camera went for approximately forty dollars and the camera I bought for approximately nothing was not because one lacked the super awesome zoom feature.

Apparently, Kodak has discontinued the old standard types of Super 8 film that many of the older home movie style cameras were designed to use.  They had indeed taken the Kodachrome away. (I know. I'm sorry.) The new types of film can be easily used by some cameras and not very well at all by others.  Which one did I have?  Guess.

These two pages on the internet confirmed the troubles.


Now, the thing is, the Ektasound 130 doesn't appear on either of these lists by name so it's hard to know what is going on with it.  I found out my camera is "auto-exposure (non TTL)."  For the 64T film that means the Ektasound 130 "cannot meter accurately with the Ektachrome 64T film but have non-reflex (non TTL) external light meters. If the camera reads the notch as 40ASA, use a ND 0.2 neutral density filter on the lens. If it reads the notch as 160ASA, use a ND 0.4 neutral density filter on the electric eye."  The 100D page doesn't say what an auto-exposure nonTTL camera will do.

So I knew I had a problem.  My camera doesn't appear to work properly with any film, but the lack of definitive information about my specific device had me holding out hope that I would somewhere find someone on the internet who had one and a blog on what to get and how to use it, etc.

No such luck, but I eventually did find a specific reference to the Ektasound 130, in an article from 2006.  The news was not good.

This article has a chart which rates cameras based on how they will handle the new Kodak Super 8mm film.
Unfortunately, the Ektasound 130 gets a rating of 6.  According to the article, "the useful life of these models is finished if you wish to use Ektachrome 64T (T stands for Tungsten;  artificial light) or Ektachrome 100D (D stands for daylight).  These movie cameras are either unable to read ASA 64 or 100 with little or no way to correct overexposure, or they work with external metering that cannot be modified."

So, is "the useful life" of my camera truly "finished?"

That's what I aim to find out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why I have a Kodak Ektasound 130

I'm not quite sure what it was that inspired me to begin this project.
It probably began while bored,  just poking around on eBay while listening to some music, newly acquired by any number of less than legal methods.
Often times while farting around on the internet I search eBay for super 8 cameras, always allowing my stifling reasonableness to hold me back from throwing my money into that particular pit of obsolescence.
I have been fascinated by the super 8 format ever since my friend picked up a camera and projector while we wasted a suburban New Jersey spring Saturday cruising from garage sale to garage sale in his taco colored Toyota in which the driver's seat was held in an upright position by a milk crate of Grateful Dead tapes.
While the main mission of the day was completed earlier in the morning by obtaining some prime seats for The Grateful Dead's annual visit to Giants Stadium, the purchase of the camera on the same afternoon would become just as significant to me over time and the purchase of the camera and the purchase of the tickets would forever be linked.

August had arrived and with the camera loaded into the taco colored car, we made the trip to Giants Stadium.
We filmed liberally in the parking lot before the show.  It was an exciting feeling.  My family had never had a video camera, so this was my first time getting a turn operating any kind of film device. By the time Jerry Garcia was bungling the show's opener, Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodleoo, on their way to performing perhaps the worst show of their career, it would be the filming in the parking lot (and the opening set by a reunited Traffic) that was the highlight of the day.

the show:

Months later, when we finally got to see the finished product of what we made (an amalgam of parking lot scenes, yo yo tricks, random family members waving like buffoons, etc.) I was blown away.  The haze hanging over the parking lot seemed like I could touch it.  The shirtless man's embrace of me while waiting patiently for the porta potty was almost as body odor infused on the film as it was in person  There were also some speed issues that added some brilliant comedy, as sped up film tends to do.

It's this experience that leads me to constantly search for super 8 cameras on eBay without ever pulling the trigger.

The search I did this time seemed to present me with offers too good to pass up.
The two cameras with auctions ending soonest were both in good condition, both starting at 99 cents, had original cases and instructions, and were from the same seller who happened to have 100% positive feedback selling a wide variety of camera equipment.   There wasn't much time left on the auctions and there were still no bids on the cameras.  Everything was falling into place.  Would I possibly be able to get two cameras for two dollars?

The first camera up for auction was a GAF SS 250 XL.

This one was the one I was really interested in.  It looked much sharper than the other one, and had sound and ZOOM!  Could "zoom" be more onomatopoetically fantastic?  How could one not want to zoom with it's z providing motion, the two ohs telescoping toward the subject and the m swallowing it up.

With just over a minute left I got in on the bidding.  There were others waiting until the last moment to take action too.  It quickly reached twenty dollars and factoring how much I had decided I wanted to spend on something that was essentially going to be a dust collecting piece of the past that got little use I placed one final bid.   Just like that the auction was over and the camera was sold to another lucky money waster for thirty seven dollars.  I wasn't that disappointed.  The second camera's auction was next and while it didn't have zoom, it still had sound.

The second camera was a Kodak Ektasound 130.

I quickly set myself for the Kodak auction and with a minute left and no bids on the camera I won the auction for 99 cents and 12 dollars shipping.  This seemed like a steal.  My first thought was that zoom must be a very special feature as it seemed the only real obvious difference to warrant the thirty dollar discrepancy in the going price for the two cameras.

Excited by my victory I began to research my Ektasound 130 to see what kind of film I would need to get and where I would get it.

I should have done this before buying a camera.