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Super 8 in PC Mag!
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Ode to Regular 8mm
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Stats & Translation
PROFILE - February 2004
After searching for about 5 years, I have finally got my hands on another of Bauer's elusive Royal series cameras. This time it is the Royal 8E Makro. This search also brought about a new experience, namely bidding on an auction that was almost exclusively written in German. I finally stumbled across "eBay Germany" and discovered I could still use my username. Of course, the descriptions were entirely in German but thanks to a free translation tool on the internet I was able to figure out whether the camera descriptions stated if the camera worked or not.
Actually, I had found two Royal's on the German eBay site, a Royal 10E and a Royal 8E Makro. I missed out on the Royal 10E as I felt I did not want to bid too high on my first foreign endeavour - it sold for under $100 though. Then I came across a minty Royal 8E with all of its paperwork. The deal closed at $35 Euros as I was the only bidder. My general impression of the German auction site is that super 8 cameras sell for very low prices often with few or no bidders on the more popular cameras. I have seen many Bauer Royal C cameras sell for under $10 and this includes the "trick" attachment. The 8E's and 10E's typically sell for 30 to 90 Euros.
My Bauer Royal 8E is a subtantially larger camera than it's non-Royal counterparts. The heft is nice and perfect in my opinion. The finish is superb as well. Optically, the image is not as bright as you get from a late model Canon but then again this camera was designed in the late 1960's.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of most of the Royal series cameras is the second light meter that swings out from the side of the body. It is used in extremely low light conditions in conjunction with a timer function that allows each frame of film to be exposed for a calculated length of time to render an image. Use of a tripod is a must. For example, to use the camera on the street at night, you would set the timer to between 2 and 12 seconds to set the scene length. Then, press the start button and let the camera do the rest. It will expose EACH FRAME for a calculated length of time based on available light and the time set for the scene. Very similar to a "B" function on a 35mm camera. The camera allows for setting of between 1 second and 12 seconds. The instruction manual specifically warns you that it may take up to three hours to expose 12 seconds of film in extremely low light situations. For this reason alone, I would highly recommend getting yourself a Bauer Royal series or a Bauer A509 or A512 camera. Some Nizo models also offer a similar function but they typically sell for much more than the Bauers.
As far as style
goes, the Bauers have that certain "kitsch" look.
The smooth shape, the silvery body combined with the nice touches of
black, topped off with a gold crown emblem all combine to create a
truly stylistic, if not ostentatious, machine. It is obvoius that much
thought went into the design of these cameras. Compare this to the
crude squareness of a B&H Filmosonic or the angular lines of a
Leicina Special with its cryptic nomenclature and off-balance design
that literally requires the user to use his or her forehead to hold
the camera steady, and I think you will see that the Bauer is a well
thought out machine.
Other than the timer function, the Royal 8E Makro offers a variable shutter, single frame, 12, 18, 24, and 54fps capabilities and macro shots to the front element. The aperture can be set manually from the top of the camera or left in auto mode. There is a variable zoom speed but I found little difference between the extremes. As is the case with all super 8 cameras, the zoom is far too fast to put into actual use while rolling film.
This brings up one wish. That is, I wish that all power zooms would have been removed from the design of the cameras (both regular and super 8) and instead replaced with a decent sized zoom "stick." It seems every movie camera manual specifically states that it is preferred the you do NOT zoom during filming but rather use it as a framer prior to shooting. Obviously, the general public fell in love with zooming while filming and I would bet dealers at the time must of had a hard time selling consumers on cameras that had slower-than-average zooms. The customer would have thought that camera was broken and would opt for a faster zoom on a different camera. Some cameras even went so far as to not allow a power-assisted zoom UNLESS the camera was running. Talk about a backwards implementation of an application! This is a good example of where more is not always better.
Some important technical specfications from the manual are as follows:
My initial results were nice but I was unhappy about the giant hair hanging down one-third of the way into my image from the top frame line. That was my mistake. I should have carefully blown the film opening clear as well as used a blunt toothpick to clear the edges from buildup. Live and learn as they say. Otherwise my images were quite sharp and very similar to how I remember the day. A sunny winter's day with some haze in the sky were faithfully reproduced on K40. They were not the most contrasty of scenes (in this sense I use the degree of contrast as a good thing) but then again it may have been the time of day (almost noon during the winter). Of course, today as I write this essay, the windy blue sky beckons me to do some "stock" sky and tree shots but that will have to wait until another day. And before I forget, this this camera also offers a time-lapse setting with a dial that lets you adjust the rate to your liking.
Will this camera become my daily user? Oh yes! However, I want to run a few more test scenes to get better acquainted with the newest member of my super 8 family. Now let's hope there is a way to get rid of that pesky hair hanging down on my finished film. I am thinking a NLE should offer some ability to manipulate the scenes. I may even use the scenes as cut outs and superimpose them on another. Lots of ideas, just wish I had the time. It looks like a new computer may be in my future!
Finally, in case
you haven't got the message, do not pass up on a chance to pick
up this great camera. You will not be
disappointed. Happy Film Shooting!
Cheers, February 2004
Happy Film Shooting!