I just bought a canon 1014 xl-s for 10 euro's on the flea market (this was a real bargain, since they go for 500-700 on eBay).

This camera records using super 8, but since this would be a costly thing (buting empty tape, having it developed, ... alls for 4 minutes of film), I was wondering if couldn't just buy or (even better) make my own digital back.

This back would just replace the tape and I'd be able to just record digitally, saving me a lot of hassle.

Does anyone know if this is possible, or am I just dreaming?

What would I need if I build one myself? Are there any good references?

  • I'm curious as to why, in our digital age, would such an equipment be so expensive, even when used? Why do people find it attractive?
    – ysap
    Apr 16 '11 at 17:25

I'm pretty sure they don't sell a digital super-8 back after some Googling around.

I'm also pretty sure the required level of expertise to make such a thing is quite high. I'm not going to say its impossible, but well beyond the hope of the average person hoping to save some money on digital recording.

If you're interested in shooting the film and digitally editing - they are many services available to digitally convert, but for a price.

  • I think that making a decent such digital back would cost much much much more than buying a nowadays HD camera. It won't be RED Epic, but for what you'd get from your solution it will be much much better... Apr 17 '11 at 19:27

Super 8 is a pretty tiny format: 4.0mm x 5.8mm. At first glance, this would appear to be even smaller than most of today's compact cameras, which have 1/2.5" (10mm), 1/1.7" (15mm), etc. sensors.

However, due to a weird anomaly in how CCD sizes are specified, that's actually just larger than a 1/3" CCD, which is pretty common. Many webcams, security cameras, etc. use the 1/3" format, so you might be able to hack something together. Essentially, get a 1/3" camera, remove its lens, and place it so its sensor sits where the film used to. You might want to look at the Surveillance Video category at B&H for a source of bodycamera parts for your Frankencamera.

Are you going to make a better camcorder than camera companies are able to? Probably not. However, it could be a fun project. If you do end up drilling holes in your camera, let us know how it turns out.


The reason you can't buy such a device is amply illustrated by the Imagek saga


There now is a digital Super 8 cartridge prototype.

  • Could even be feasible - unlike 135mm film emulators (see the imagek comment), there is a lot of allowable space for anxillary stuff (electronics, storage, power supply) per inch of needed sensor size and per unit of image quality expectations... Oct 24 '18 at 23:13
  • @rackandboneman it works and there even is a parts list if you want to try it yourself! What differs compared to a real Super 8 film, when I talked to them last, is that effective shutter angle is slightly smaller, leading to slightly less motion. On the plus side compared to most digital cameras, is the global shutter, which makes the imagery look more film-like. Oct 25 '18 at 6:50

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