8 Millimeter

8 Millimeter vs. Super 8 Millimeter Film: How Can I Tell What I Have

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If you’re a film buff, you might have heard about the different types of 8mm films. You’ve probably also seen Super 8 Millimeter film at your local video store before. But how can you tell what type of 8mm film is in front of you? We’ll teach you some tricks for sizing up any reel to see whether it’s an old-school 8mm or a Super 8 Millimeter.

How Can I Tell What I Have?

Whether you want to convert the super 8 to digital or just want to watch some classic home movies, it’s essential to know what type of film you’re dealing with. Here are a few tips for telling the difference between the two.

Sprocket Holes

The size and placement of the sprocket holes will vary between these two film types. If the sprockets are closer to one side or take up less than half of the frame, then it is an old school, or standard, eight-millimeter reel. If the sprocket holes take up more than half of the frame or are spaced evenly, it is a Super-eight millimeter reel.

Film Width

The film width will also be different between the two types. Standard film width is sixteen millimeters, while Super-eight films are twenty-four millimeters wide, making them slightly wider.

Labels

The labels on the reels can also be a giveaway. If the reel has “Standard Eight” or “Regular Eight” written on it, then it is a standard eight-millimeter reel. If there are no labels or the label says “Super-Eight,” put it away and find another reel.

Frame Size

Framing size is another way to tell the difference between eight millimeters and Super 8 film. Standard 8mm film will have a frame size of 0.39 inches wide by 0.3 inches high, or about 10 square inches total. Super 8mm film, on the other hand, has a frame size of 0.6 inches wide by 0.43 inches high, or about 20 square inches total.

Frames per Second (FPS)

The number of frames shot in one second is also different between the two types of film. Standard film shoots at twenty-four frames per second, while Super-eight will shoot between eighteen and thirty fps which is a little lower than the standard.

Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio of the frames, which is the ratio of the width to the height, differs between these two types. Standard film has an aspect ratio of 1:1 (width and height are equal), while Super 8 has an aspect ratio of 3:2 (width is three times larger than height). 

This can be useful in determining which type of film you’re looking at because many modern televisions and computer screens only show in a 4:3 format, meaning they will crop out some of the image if it doesn’t match that aspect ratio.

Picture Quality

Super 8 Millimeter film usually has a better picture quality than 8mm film. This is because it has more frames per second, meaning less of a chance for the image to become blurry. Additionally, Super-eight films were made to be shown on larger screens and look better when projected.

Converting 8mm and Super 8 to Digital

If you want to convert your 8mm or Super-eight film to digital, there are a few different ways that you can do so. You could transfer the film to digital video or scan it to Digital Negative (DNG)

The advantage of transferring the film is that it preserves the original footage, but scanning to DNG doesn’t require any equipment because it’s done through a flatbed scanner. Whichever way you choose, converting your old films to digital will give them a new life and allow future viewers the chance to see what movies used to look like.

Parting Shot

Super-eight film is wider, has a better picture quality, and can be converted to digital. If it doesn’t have any of these attributes, it is most likely an eight-millimeter reel. Knowing the difference between these two types of film is important because it can help you decide how to preserve them.

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