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Super 8 Projector

The Super 8 projector was the most popular way of recording home movies from the 1960's until the dawn of the video camera.

Super 8 film was a highly popular home movie system released by Kodak in 1965. It had a number of advantages over previous 8mm film. First, unlike 8mm film, there was no need to reinsert the film once the film had gone through once. 8mm film was actually 16mm film that was rethreaded in the other direction so as to film on the other side. Super 8 film was a true 8mm film stock, requiring that it only be placed in the camera a single time. Secondly, Super 8 film was, starting in 1973, the first 8mm film to include sound on its recording. Traditional 8mm film was always silent. Thirdly, Super 8 film was far easier to handle than traditional 8mm film. It was distributed in cartridges, which made it much easier to insert into the projector without fear of accidental exposure to light. As a result, Super 8 film became a far more popular system of home movies than traditional 8mm had ever been.

There are two very important things to note about Super projectors before making any purchase. First, Super 8 projectors are not the same as 8mm projectors. Because of the way that 8mm film was double-threaded, the two types of film are incompatible. When purchasing a Super 8 projector, it’s very important to ensure that it is a “Super 8” rather than an “8mm” projector (if it says both, you should ask, as the seller may be confused as to the distinction). Second, not all Super 8 projectors are sound projectors. In fact, for the first 8 years of its existence, all Super 8 projectors are silent projectors. Therefore, if you intend to play sound on your Super 8 Projector, you need to buy a later model (and even some of those are silent, so be careful).

Fortunately, Kodak did not use its patent on the Super 8 system to limit who could produce Super 8 projectors, which means that there are a large variety of Super 8 projectors available. Of course, it also created competition, which prevented the systems from being poorly made. Note, though, that Super 8 projectors have a much wider variance in quality, partly because they were such a popular system.

Bell and Howell, one of the top producers of traditional 8mm projectors also ventured into the Super 8 projector business, and produced some of the highest quality Super 8 projectors available. Though Super 8 was popular, they still treated them like the prestige item that traditional 8mm projectors had been. Their Super 8 models all have model numbers starting in the 400s, but be careful, because some of the lower 400-series are still traditional 8mm projectors.

Kodak itself made a number of Super 8 projectors, though the quality is more mixed than that of Bell and Howell. Just as today, there are variations in quality and price among computer monitors, there were variations among Super 8 projectors. One of the big variations in Kodak projectors is that they started to produce “flat” Super 8 projectors such as the “Moviedeck”, where the reel is inserted into a projector that looks like a box, rather than using the traditional reel system of movie projectors until that point.

Since Super 8 Projectors are no longer made, you’ll have to buy a used one. I hope the above information can help you in your decision.

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