Written by Anastasia Campos
Welcome to your simplified guide to shooting Super 8 film. Like most quests, my film journey has had intense highs, low lows, and the slow and steady grind between them. The highs are the connection film gives me to my senses, the amazing artists I’ve met so far, and the thrill of seeing my creative intent actualize before my eyes. The chiefest of the lows is the disorganized, frustrating process known as the learning curve.
Part of me has to own that I am averse to the learning process in general. My photographic approach is rather neanderthal: me press button, me make magic now!
So! Here is the condensed version of how I got started with Super 8, intended to help you to start shooting right away, leaving the research phase as optional. Although my knowledge of this medium deepens as I go, I like to stay on a need-to-know basis. I learn by doing. You too?
How To Shoot Super 8 Film
STEP 1. BUY THIS CAMERA
Invest in a new Super 8 video camera, like this one or this one from Pro8mm. The benefits of a new camera is it’s guaranteed to work and won’t need servicing, and it will also have stellar quality. The negative is the price!
Buy an old one from this list. I got mine (Canon 518 Auto Zoom) for $40 on Craigslist. You will likely need to have it serviced, although many still work well. I sent mine to Marvin at Photo Center in LA. I believe I spent $90 on service and about $40 on shipping.
STEP 2. BUY THIS FILM KIT
I found two main labs that sell and process Super 8 film, both in California. One had a stellar website: Pro8mm. That’s the one I went with and have never looked back. They babied me in the beginning and answered all of my questions, bless them. Buy their Film Kit from their website or Amazon, which includes everything you need: film cartridge, self addressed stamped envelope to return the film for developing, developing, scan to cloud, and return shipment of your negatives.
STEP 3. SHOOT AND SEND
Note to self of the past: don’t overthink the film kits. Use Bright Sun in bright sun, use Color in good light indoors or soft light outdoors, and Low Light in low light. It really is that easy! I only use auto exposure and tend to shoot in 5 second clips. Once you’re done filming, send it to the lab and you’ll get a link with your video in about a week.
There you have it, the blog post I wish I had come across in the beginning. See a few examples of my work in this post, and feel free to reach out with questions. Creating Super 8 films for families (mine and yours) is a passion I love to share. It captures the feeling, warmth and intimacy of family like no other film. I call it the medium of memory. Blessings to you on your journey, and may the learning curve ever-bend in your favor.
Check out all of our tips and tutorials for shooting film here!