Logmer has declared plans to release an S16 film camera this year.
Given the brilliance Logmar achieved with its 65mm Magellan camera, it’s easy to forget that the company’s background includes a lot of work in much smaller formats. Its Chatham Super-8mm camera has been described as the first truly new option in several decades, and now there’s a (CAD model of) an S16mm camera on the website.
While it’s great to see new equipment emerging, the implications of all this for photochemical origin in general are interesting – and do not simply because it’s a vote of confidence in the format. The practical value of this is that while the film itself has popular capabilities, the devices that use it can sometimes leave a little more to be desired. Many Super-8 cameras, for example, are deeply, deeply primitive, with poor vision, zooms of extremely questionable quality, and ergonomics that seem to assume that humans have the ability to arbitrarily grow extra bends every time it does. suits them.
Modern audio recorders tend not to interface easily with 1960s and 1970s technology, which immediately increases the team required to include someone to record the sound, and ultimately lots of Super-8 cameras don’t even work particularly well. cameras, being very heavily reliant on modern tracking and digital stabilization technology to achieve a reasonable recording. Watch the sprocket holes bounce rhythmically in footage that’s been stabilized on the bits of frame-edge fluff, and while it’s hard to tell where these problems really start, it’s easy to feel like even the film wasn’t made with such care in the first place.
There are Super-8mm cameras that do better at all of these things, especially options that can mount better, often C-mount lenses. These cameras are rare and expensive, however, and are becoming increasingly rare and more expensive as more and more of these decades-old technologies inevitably meet their MTBF. What’s less intuitive is that many of these problems are also experienced by machines at the other end of the scale. There never was this many 65mm cameras, even if we are talking about the more conventional 65mm 5 perf as opposed to IMAX’s 15 perf madness, and few of these 65mm cameras were particularly practical from the point of view of the modern cinematographer.
Naturally, 65mm machines don’t suffer from the instability of the tiny Super-8 frame, both because the negative is larger and because the cameras are – to put it mildly – not designed or built at a consumer price. . There’s a Super Panavision 70 camera standing in the lobby of the company’s Woodland Hills rental facility (or at least there used to be, pre-pandemic) and it’s immediately clear why it’s become largely ornamental. It would be interesting to see if it leaves any dents in the concrete floor, but to figure that out you’d have to move it, and that’s a lofty goal for anyone without a team of heavy-duty grips and a construction crane. at hand. The company’s much healthier and newer Panavision Large Format System 65, introduced in the early 90s, has more amenities than a modern crew might expect, but it’s still an absolute beast (and confusingly named, given what “large format” means now).
Arri’s 765 may be slightly more svelte, but Logmar’s Magellan is almost certainly the most practical 65mm camera ever made – and of course, being a 21st century design, it has plenty of niceties that a modern Alexa-trained crew might prefer to have , including wireless capabilities and a bright, easily visible electronic viewfinder. I know, we love optical sights – pipe down the rear – but look at how small the thing is. You can hold it without risking needing some kind of horrible orthopedic intervention later on.
So Logmar’s work to date looks very interesting in the context of general film camera technology. Whether this turns out to be the case for the new 16mm design remains to be seen, not least because we can’t load stock into a CAD model. Certainly, the potential is there. Most 16mm cameras in use today are almost as primitive as the, and often older, Super-8 options currently destroying eBay. Demand something like a reasonable quality video tap, high speed and, in particular, noise levels compatible with recording sound every day, and you’ll quickly find that the Arri SR3s have shockingly held their value. , although most of them do not. t even have HD faucets. The new design is intended to shoot up to 48 fps in a recorded pin gate with 3G SDI aiming outputs that the company describes as “focus critical”. No mention is made of sync sound compatibility.
Whether or not we agree that Super-16mm can outrun a 1080p video stream (it can barely do that with slow stock, good lenses, and careful scanning), it’s definitely going to be better than the Super-8. Well, of course it will – why is it worth mentioning? ‘Cause it’s not that hard to make it look like 16 cheaper greater than 8, which shouldn’t be the case, but it really is. A three-minute roll of 500-speed film in Super-8 format sells for the slightly alarming price of £44 and runs for three minutes. At least some prices for ten minutes – four hundred feet – of 16mm stock suggest it is potentially cheaper per minute. Processing may vary, but scanning is often charged per image, regardless of gauge.
So while 16mm has long played second fiddle at 35, Logmar’s camera should certainly make it easier to get the best out of the format. The company has announced plans to start taking pre-orders this year.