THE BEAULIEU CAMERAS...OLD TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS YET TO BE SURPASSED
I really have to say this to all you budding filmmakers: Get a Beaulieu! And it can be done cheaply...read on.
I managed to pick up a 2008S model at a camera swap meet the other week. I was walking along, minding my own business, talking Super 8 stuff with a friend when an older gentleman passing by says he has a Beaulieu camera with an Angenieux lens sitting at home in the box. He bought it new back in June 1968. Well, I can tell you I did not let him out of my sight for the remainder of the swap meet. By the end of the day I was the proud owner of a "minty" classic Super 8 camera. What a day!
The camera features a manually set 10 through 400 ASA speed (useful for non-Kodak filmstocks and other special purposes) and 2 through 50 frames per second. Both settings are automatically connected to the TTL meter (except at the extreme ends of both scales). The camera also features the updated trigger release (there were two variations of the 2008) which has the palm button as well as the forefinger trigger release. Notice the variable shutter lever on the top of the camera - it locks into a middle position when needed. There is a special plate included which removes the tungsten filter when inserted. the curved part rests on you trigger finger.
Overall this camera just feels like it needs to be used. Has a pistol-like feel to it. Notice the optional flat base-plate adapter - serves as an ergonomic extra-long grip, too. Oh, be sure to check for the internal tungsten filter. On these cameras they often fall out of place as they are simply a piece of gelatin mounted on a steel frame. You can see it with the lens removed and the camera running. If it is missing you will have to use a filter in front of the lens.
The shutter speeds are as follows:
A final side note to the 2008S: The automatic light meter operates
WONDERS NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE ME
As an aside, I also bought a BRAND NEW IN-THE-BOX Bauer XL305 Super 8 sound camera at a larger camera store the other week. I was on vacation checking out every camera store I can find, as we all like to do, when I asked if they, by chance, had any Super 8 cameras. Well, the clerk said they had some new ones in the back! "Well, what are you waiting for?" I cried! I ended up buying the Bauer. It is an absolute gem.
BEAULIEU'S C-MOUNT LENS
Back to the Beaulieu. This camera, as all Beaulieu's do with the exception of the 1008 series, takes C-mount lenses. The first thing I did was buy a brand new C-mount to Nikon F-mount converter. Wow! Now I have a 80 to 200mm f2.8 Super 8mm zoom lens! Talk about fun. By the way, converter mounts are available new in your better camera stores. My favourite store sells them for $45 for the Nikon converter. Everything from Exacta, Pentax, Canon, Leica screw/bayonet mounts, and other lenses can be converted to C-mounts. You may have to do some searching for more esoteric conversion mounts but I have seen them around.
Some of the more interesting lens adapters include:
Let's not forget that my camera came with the standard (and a fine standard it is) Angenieux f1.9 8mm-64mm zoom lens and Servo-Reglomatic. You can tell the 2008S from the later 4008's by the lens (amongst other things) since the 2008S Angenieux only has two barrels, not three like on the 4008 series. The extra barrel is for the zoom motor on the 4008. Not really a necessity.
THE FRENCH GUILLOTINE
With this being a French camera, what more fitting than to have a guillotine shutter with reflex mirror instead of the usual beam splitter system common in 98 percent of the other Super 8mm SLR cameras. This means that 100 percent of the light travelling through the lens reaches the film. When you are filming, the image actually flickers due to the mirror going up and down. Kind of fun!
Also, the aperture diaphragm on the Angenieux lens is not of the usual "V" style but a true iris like any normal 35mm lens. These two factors, combined with the relatively fast shutter speed, combine for about the sharpest images you can find in Super 8 technology. Admittedly, the Bauer cameras also seem to have developed a different kind of aperture whereby it looks as if they did indeed invent about the closest thing there is to a true iris yet still using the beam splitting technology. I look forward to performing a comparison of the two cameras - both of which are at the opposite extremes of the Super 8mm historic timeline (1965 - 1982).
BATTERIES FOR BEAULIEU
Batteries for the Beaulieu series of cameras are the biggest concern for the modern day purchaser, and I am now about to burst the bubble on how to use modern technology to overcome this, now insignificant, problem. Of course, it can be done for under $20 dollars.
First off, the original Beaulieu Ni-Cad battery packs probably won't hold a charge that well after so many years. So, you would be doing yourself a big favour to look into building a battery pack for it. This is a relatively simple procedure for even the novice hobbyist - like me! You will have to make the decision as to whether you want to be able to use the original battery as an actual battery or as a parts contributor to your external pack. Don't worry, I offer you plenty of options.
Please note, I take no responsibility if you destroy your camera or worse in undertaking the following project - do so at your own risk.
Also, there is a tremendous difference between mA and mAhours! Milliamps refer to the amount of current passing throught the system - my 2008S draws between 150 and 300 milliamps depending on the frames per second.
Ni-Cad batteries are measured (or sold) based on their "milliamp-hour" rating - completely different from milliamps! "Milliamp hours" refer to the total power available from the battery and not their current. All the Ni-Cad batteries I got to choose from were of the standard 1.2 volt variety. Other voltage packs seen in stores are simply multiples of this.
Avoid using other batteries like "AA" alkalines or car batteries - you could blow up your camera! I say this because you do not want to risk a fluctuating voltage going into your camera. While your camera will always draw the correct current (as measured in milliamps) you will risk a "brown out" if you vary the voltage below the recommended amount. This is due to Ohm's Law (E=IR). Since the equation will always try to maintain balance, if you lower your voltage, the device will draw more current and thereby probably fry your camera! So, avoid the "AA's" and please be careful.
THE 2008S & 4008 BATTERY PACKS
My 2008S battery pack was made up of four 1.2 volt batteries joined together to produce both 4.8 volts and 2.4 volts simultaneously. The center contact is 4.8v, the middle-edge one 2.4v and the outer connection is the ground. Now, I have seen the 2008 camera where there are only two contacts instead of three. I do not know the coirrect way to modify these early-model cameras. This discussion concerns the two camera models I have converted - the three-contact 2008S and the three-contact 4008ZMII.
The 4008 series of cameras require more voltage - 7.2 volts in the center contact, 3.6 volts in the middle-edge contact, and the outer edge is ground.
The rest is pretty simple.
Drop by your major Ni-Cad battery dealer (look in the Yellow Pages under Batteries - they are usually located in the warehouse district of your town. Even a radio-control hobby store may be able to come up with something) and have them make up a pack for you. There are so many different "milliAmp-hour" batteries to choose from that it all depends how long you want to go between charges and how big you want the pack to be. I opted for a small size "half C" battery combination since they were very small and yet had 600mAhrs. My 2008S draws between 150mA at 2fps and 300mA at 50fps so I am good for over two hour's worth of filming with my setup. I could have easily quadrupled that by getting the 1200mAhr batteries without going that much larger in physical battery size. Also, use about 5 to 6 feet of shrink-wrapped wire to give your pack enough length to fit in you jeans pocket and have a pro-look. A coiled cord may also be handy but adds unnecessary tension on the connection.
The batteries cost about $3.25 each (I needed 4 of them; for the 4008 series you will need 6) plus another $6 for the guy to wire them up for me. They provided me with two positive outputs (4.8v and 2.4v) and one ground and checked each contact to ensure correct voltage. They also cycled the battery pack to complete the performance check. I also bought a 12 volt 200mA battery charger from them for $8.
THREE METHODS OF POWER
All that remained to do was somehow connect the new external battery pack to the camera. There are three basic methods, each with its own merits:
I tried this but had a lot of trouble keeping the terminals inside the reconstructed battery housing from shorting out as well as trouble with making good contact to the camera connectors. An advantage of this system is that you can use other batteries when not using the external pack. Finally, beware, I broke the four little tab connectors on the base of the battery housing by constantly taking it apart and searching for the short circuit! Hence, I had to come up with Method 1! They say necessity is the mother of invention.
Variation of Method 3: Replace the solder step and instead use rubber sleaved slip-on connectors to make the connection. This variation is the least intrusive of all methods but, personally, I was unable to come up with any suitable connectors that would stay in place during actual use.
So, now you can safely experiment with your Beaulieu camera and come up with a modern day enigma! Take a look at this: 1960's technology happily working with 1990's technology. Setup is a Nikon F2.8 AF 80 - 200mm ED lens mounted to the Beaulieu 2008S via the C-Mount converter. Camera is loaded with Kodachrome 40.
This page is dedicated to my friend Rose Agricola (1953 - 1999). She was a friend who never tired of listening to my camera stories.