The Super 8 film camera has become an important part of photography history, particularly when it comes to cinematography. The distinctive design of the camera and its unique format inspired many amateurs who would later become industry veterans, and that legacy is fondly remembered and even commemorated in a 2011 movie bearing the camera’s very name. Not long after that film was released, Kodak, whose name has become closely associated with the camera, announced a new version of this beloved camera that sticks true to its unique analog experience while adding a few digital conveniences. Almost 8 years later, that camera might finally be ready to roll, but it seems that very few fans will actually be able to get their hands on it.
The Super 8 camera can probably be credited for giving birth to home movies that are now made using smartphones. Making motion picture cameras more accessible to the masses helped aspiring moviemakers get started without having to burn through their savings. Although Super 8 cameras are actually still available today, they are already considered vintage by today’s standards, especially because of their use of physical film. That said, a faithful Super 8 successor won’t be able to win hearts unless it also stays true to that format and medium.
That’s exactly what Kodak was going for when it revealed plans to upgrade the Super 8 camera back in 2016 at CES. It would still be a film camera like its predecessors, but it would add a few convenient features taken from digital cameras. The new Super 8 would also retain the same basic shape, especially the gun-like pistol grip that has become iconic of the camera’s design. There’s an addition of a top handle with an integrated run button for more difficult angles. It does modernize the aesthetic, though, adopting a more industrial appearance with plenty of flat planes and sharp angles. It is a look that’s both fresh and new yet still unambiguously Super 8.
As for those modern conveniences, it sports a 4-inch LCD swiveling viewfinder, similar to all video cameras today. It comes with a detachable wide-angle 6mm 1:1.2 C-mount lens, so you can actually use any other C-mount prime lens or adapters, depending on what you need. There’s an SD card reader for recording audio directly into storage, as well as a micro HDMI port for connecting an external monitor. Ironically, despite all the new hardware, the camera still charges with an old and slow micro USB connection. And yes, it still shoots on analog film, so you’ll need to make sure to have a stock of KODAK’s Super 8 cartridges at hand.
Given how long ago the announcement was, there were perhaps some doubts about whether Kodak would actually be able to pull this off at all. The good news is that Kodak has finally opened up sign-ups, with shipping expected to start next month. The bad news is that, in addition to limited availability, the price tag for this new Kodak Super 8 film camera is a whopping $5,495, more than twice the announced SRP back in 2016. This immediately puts it out of the reach of all but the most dedicated collectors, a rather disappointing U-turn for a camera that originally catered to amateurs and aspiring moviemakers.