Elmo is a Japanese company that produced many now-vintage film projectors, including standard 8mm projectors, Super 8 projectors and 16mm projectors. All of these types of projectors are no longer in production, and Elmo continues as a company that specializes in projection for education, especially overhead projectors that can be used to display sheets of paper on a screen.
Elmo Series Projectors
Elmo made a number of projectors in different series, depending on the needs of the viewer. It is important to note that their projectors are primarily Super 8 projectors, though some of their projectors are called “dual format” projectors that can show standard 8 film as well.
- ST Series: The ST series is the smallest of the Elmo series. While it is a very high-quality projector, depending on your needs, it might not be sufficient. It is somewhat dimmer than the other series of projectors, and can handle smaller reels (600 feet). They can often be picked up at a relative bargain of $500 or less each. Some ST-series projectors were packages with a camera and called the “Traveller Series”.
- SC Series: The SC-series is a middle-of-the-road series. They can handle larger reels (up to 1200 feet) and they have brighter bulbs. However, they do not come with the large amount of features that are generally needed for telecine (the process of converting analog film to digital film). If your primary needs are simply to purchase films without many bells and whistles, this is a good choice.
- GS Series: The GS-series projectors are the most advanced of the Elmo Series projectors. In fact, they are such high quality that they are commonly used for telecine. Many GS-series include an internal screen for daytime viewing that, along with the ability to lock the frame speed, makes them ideal for digital conversion.
GS-series projectors are the most expensive of the Elmo projectors, usually costing between $1000 and $2500. This is primarily because they are among the best Super 8 and 8mm film projectors available and are highly prized by collectors. If anything, the issue with the GS series is that the projectors are too complicated, and have more features that can go wrong.
Types of Elmo Projectors
The Elmo projectors have different capabilities, and which capabilities they have is not dependent on which series they are a part of. You’ll need to consider all of the following when purchasing a projector, especially if you are planning to run Standard 8 films:
- Sound vs. Silent: Not all Elmo projectors are capable of sound, so you will need to check before purchasing.
- Dual versus Single: Because Elmo projectors are primarily Super 8 projectors, you will want to look for a “dual” projector if you wish to play standard 8mm. If, on the other hand, you want to only display Super 8 film, any Elmo 8mm projector will do.
- 16mm versus 8mm: Elmo also made 16mm projectors, so if you are purchasing online, make sure that you have the right film type.
Remember that not all online sellers really know what their projectors can do. They may have forgotten or simply never have known, so they might advertise their product incorrectly. For a complete list of Elmo projectors and their specifications, you can check the Super 8 Wiki which will give the exact specifications of any given model.
Some Further Issues
There are some other things to bear in mind when purchasing your Elmo projector.
- Parts Sold Separately: Like many products, there are sometimes parts sold separately. This can include take-up spools (the spool that catches the film after use), speakers and devices for daytime viewing. Often these devices are readily available and generic enough that you can purchase a generic one.
- Language: Because Elmo is a Japanese company and because Elmo projectors have been a secondary market for over thirty years, projectors produced in each country have been spread around the globe by collectors. Therefore, if your projector includes a manual, you might want to check if it is in English. Because of this issue, a market has developed for Elmo manuals themselves, and they can generally be purchased for $20 or so or even downloaded for free online.
Elmo projectors are the most respected Super 8 projectors available, and some models can be used for standard 8mm as well. They are out of production, but there are enough collectors around that they can be found second-hand. Note, however, that they are not inexpensive, because collectors are eager to purchase them.