Build Battery Packs
Record Your Sounds
VNF Film and Filters
Super 8mm Links
Super 8 in PC Mag!
Kodak's S8mm Site
Ode to Regular 8mm
Cyber Film School
Stats & Translation
PRODUCT PROFILE - December 1999 If you enjoy super 8 filmmaking as much as I do, the addition of the
Eumig Nautica to your collection becomes a necessity. At the height of
its popularity, roughly 1974 through 1980, worldwide manufacturing facilities
supported the super 8 format. Germany, Austria, the United States, Japan,
Malaysia, and Russia were all major makers of cameras. The Austrian-built
Eumig Nautica was first shown to the world at Photokina 1978 under the
name Eumig Sportmaster. It had the unique distinction of being completely
impervious to the elements. Its rugged construction has also helped it
survive some 25 years of storage and makes it one of the most consistently
sought after cameras in the world of super 8 filmmaking. If you are fortunate,
perhaps you will stumble across one in your travels. I did, twice!
If you enjoy super 8 filmmaking as much as I do, the addition of the Eumig Nautica to your collection becomes a necessity. At the height of its popularity, roughly 1974 through 1980, worldwide manufacturing facilities supported the super 8 format. Germany, Austria, the United States, Japan, Malaysia, and Russia were all major makers of cameras. The Austrian-built Eumig Nautica was first shown to the world at Photokina 1978 under the name Eumig Sportmaster. It had the unique distinction of being completely impervious to the elements. Its rugged construction has also helped it survive some 25 years of storage and makes it one of the most consistently sought after cameras in the world of super 8 filmmaking. If you are fortunate, perhaps you will stumble across one in your travels. I did, twice!
Zooming ahead some 20 years, I found myself in a Goodwill store in California looking for my usual items: 8-track tapes, books, old radios, or anything else electronic that looked like it might work. At the counter under the glass was, what appeared to be, a camera with some sort of orange thingy that appeared to be for use in the water. The manual that accompanied it had some wavy lines that also appeared to have some sort of "nautical" feel. I hesitantly asked the clerk how much the item as you could never be sure if they has grossly over priced the product or not. She replied, "$10.50." By now the item was in my hands and I did not waste any time. Giving her the exact change, I swiftly walked out of the store for fear of reconsideration on her part. When I got home I realized I had a very special camera but had no way of knowing how special. Remember, this was back in 1996 when the internet was still essentially a dial-up process and the concept of e-business was in its infancy. Netscape ran on 83% of computers while Internet Explorer had only 7% of the market. It is now estimated that less than 2% of computers use Netscape. However, this page continues to be Nescape friendly, go figure.
Sometime in 1997 or 1998 it seems someone unearthed a huge lot of brand-new Eumig Nauticas on the eastern US seaboard. A check of the fledgling internet found this camera selling for $99 to $175 dollars. Today that would be a bargain but back then it was what the market would bear. Little did I know that I too would be able to acquire one of these new-in-the-box cameras for a simple trade. You see, I had also stumbled across an internet reference to the PIXEL 2000 cassette tape camera and simply filed that in the back of my mind. Then, by sheer chance, I was passing through a small town when a farmer's yard sale caused me to stop and look. On top of a bunch of old shoes was a PIXEL 2000. I had no idea if it worked or even how exactly it worked but I still had the wherewithall to counter the $5 asking price with a $3 offer and completed the deal. Realizing this camera was not really anything I took too seriously, I offered a seller of those new-in-the-box Nauticas a deal: a straight trade via the mail for my PIXEL 2000. I would send him my camera first and if he liked it he would send me a new Nautica. In the end, I think we both thought we got the better deal. The notion of both of us believeing we got the better deal is now my working definition of a fair trade.
By this time in the late 90's, quite a few camera sellers had emerged on the internet and awareness of super 8 filmmaking began to grow, though prices were still astronomical. It was during this time that my idea was born. I would start a super 8 webpage and tell people about my experiences in acquiring good working super 8 equipment at bargain-basement prices.
Getting back to the uniqueness of the Nautica, it is a camera that closely compares in concept to Nikon's Nikonos underwater cameras. Both are specifically designed to go underwater without a housing. In retrospect, it is simply amazing that this technology was able to come to market in the limited time that Super 8 filmaking reigned supreme. Rated for depths to 40 metres (approximately 120 feet), I personally have used this camera to depths of 10 meters (30 feet) while holding my breath. I prefer to use it with a mechanical remote trigger release to avoid camera shake. On one outing, my diving buddy, an experienced and licensed diver, just shook his head when he looked over in the water and saw the amount of floating rubber cord encircling me. So, take my adivce and use a fixed length release cable and not the air bulb releases. I found as I dived deeper that the air bulb began to compress to the point of activating the shutter release due to the pressure of the water!
Other uses for my Nautica include bolting it to my outrigger canoe, just inches above the water. Waves and surf are harmless to it. Sometimes I mount it just under the surface and paddle with it dragging - makes for interesting footage. I have even mouted it to a tripod underwater and filmed a few scenes! Be sure to account for the light meter which is located above and to the right of the lens. This leads to my only complaint: there is no way to lock the automatic exposure system. Careful use of the camera will prevent unwanted fluctuations in exposure but it is something to be aware of.
When used underwater, the Nautica, as all cameras do, produces colors
tinted towards the green-blue side of the spectrum. This is due to the
lack of red colors underwater. So, a red filter would be very beneficial.
Exposure compensation can be made with the the tungsten/daylight switch
and the backlight compensation switch. Switching off the built in No.
85 filter would add 1 stop but will increase the blue content, not necessarily
the direction you want to go. However, the the backligh compensation
switch does add another stop. Some experimenting here should produce
some correctly exposed K-40 film. By the way, the filter size to use
is 46mm. Note, you will not be able to use the PMA wide angle lens with
a filter in place. Experiment first by setting the camera to the 9mm
wide angle setting and see what happens.
I am not sure if it is still available from Kodak, but in the late 1990's Kodak did market a special underwater 35mm slide film. If this could be slit to super 8 and then processed using the common E6 chemicals, this would be a tremendous accomplishment. However, sticking with reality, the more ready approach avaliable to us mere mortals is to use artificuial underwater lighting. Great strides have been made in the use of super bright LED's and experimentation of color filters may make for some very interesting footage underwater.
to those of us who also collect super 8 gear, there was a special
Eumig light attachment made specifically for the Nautica when it
was first introduced in 1979. It came fitted with a diving buoy and
100 feet or cord to connect to the camera! I have never seen this
gear in real life - only in magazines. Fortunately, you can go to
any dive shop and purchase a suitable dive light. I would also suggest
you build a simple light bar that could hold two such lights at an
oblique angle to the lens so as to avoid sediment in the water showing
up on film. Attach the bar to the bottom tripod mount for a professional
look. The extra light will more than pay for itself in your exposed
A great aspect of the Nautica is the fact that you can use the 5.3mm wide angle adapter both above and below the surface. Be sure to rotate the zoom ring all the way "up" after flipping the PMA lever to the orange position. An orange light will appear in the viewfinder when the zoom ring has been set correctly. You are now ready to shoot in the 5.3mm setting. As with all cameras, do not force anything if it will not move naturally.
To use the 9-30mm zoom lens, remove the PMA lens and rotate the zoom lens lever until it stops in a horizontal position. Flip the PMA lever away from the PMA setting and continue to rotate the zoom ring until you have composed your image. It's simple after you do it a few times.
Another interesting attachment that was available in its day is the underwater zoom lens attachment. That is correct, a zoom lens that can be fitted to the camera to allow zooming from 14mm to 45mm. Again, super 8 filmmaking never ceases to amaze me with the products that supported this incredibly rewarding pasttime. The fact that these items were made in Austria adds to the perception of craftsmanship.
Many thanks go to Steve Wallace, an avid super 8 filmmaker, for emailing me the following images of his zoomset seen below and the background to this webpage.
The Nautica also offers macro filming with the 5.3mm lens attached. The camera's original strap is used as preset measuring tape to tell you how close you need to be to your subject. Ingenious! Single frame and 18fps are the only two available speeds (See note below under Disadvantages). Without the ability to lock the exposure setting, the single frame capability is somewhat limited. The tungsten/daylight filter switch is located inside the film chamber. Make sure it is set correctly prior to sealing it all up.
Essentially, I view this camera as a special-use camera. An awesome "second" camera. It would be a shame to use this camera as your "daily driver" if you are not in wet or snowy conditions. Save yourself the risk and buy an inexpensive super 8mm camera off the internet for regular filming. I do not recommending using this camera with film and no gasket/silicone on the door. The reason being that you may forget that you have not sealed it and accidentally drown your camera. A good reminder is to see if the film door can be moved in its closed position. If it can, then there is no gasket/silicone in place. BE CAREFUL!
Image quality is FANTASTIC. Eumig really nailed down the saturation and sharpness on this camera's optics. It's such a shame Eumig went broke shortly after they teamed up with Polaroid to produce the ill-fated Polavision System. They were on to something good here. It's interesting to speculate if they would have come up with another "engineering first, human requirement second" camera such as this.
Compared to other cameras, the Nautica always gives you crisp, colorful moving images. I can safely say you will not be disapponted with it. Even on overcast, cloudy days the images will suprise you. They definitely have that home movie (analog) feel but I use this description in a flattering way. None of the artificial, over sharp mini-DV images here. I have some footage where I floated up to a white egret sitting on a shoal on the lake. The day was absolutely miserable: grey and brooding, low overcast skies. However, the egret stood out in wonderful white plumage as it slowly turned and gracefully took to flight. All captured on Kodachrome 40. Monochromatic and lovely. And only the Nautica can give you the confidence to float out on a river and shoot nature without constantly fretting about potentially drowning your precious gear.
*Note. During its day, many Nauticas were converted to 24fps with a relatively simple procedure performed by experienced lab technicians. Perhaps if you found a partially broken camera you could discover this forgotten secret.
In closing, I would have to say this is my favorite "specialty" camera. The best ever made in the super 8mm format might be an overstatement but not by much. Whether you are snow boarding, sailing, water skiing, fishing, or just plain messing around in inclement weather, the Eumig Nautica will capture that moment where others fear to even take their lens cap off. It's just too bad the cartridge only lasts 3 1/3 minutes.