Canon Eight seen here with Galaxy Magazines from the same time
Possibly the finest 8mm camera ever made when you take into account that it was introduced to the home movie market in 1957. Today, October 30, 2008, this camera still reigns supreme. While the instruction manual states there is a full five year warranty (imagine that), the camera has lasted some 51 years so far and still works perfectly. And it looks pretty much as it would have back in the day with its conservative hues and green and brown.
The regular 8mm format is generally acknowledged to have "died" sometime after 1965 due primarily to the introduction of the "Super 8" format. Essentially, after some 30 years of growth and then stagnation, the regular 8mm film and camera companies of the world were looking for a means to re-energize growth and, hopefully, sales in their industry. As has been well documented in detail over the years, a small group of film and camera companies got together to address weaknesses in the 8mm format. The primary weaknesses centered on determining the aperture setting, focusing, loading and handling of the roll film and the winding of the clockwork mechanism. They also looked at the film itself and addressed the large size of the sprocket holes that were a carryover from the 16mm format. From these discussions, and with much drama, two new amateur film formats were born: Fuji's "Single 8" system and Kodak's "Super 8" system.
Both formats were virtually the same in shape except for the fact that Fuji used polyester film whereas Kodak used acetate-based filmstock. Other than the polyester film being slightly thinner (in depth), both films could be used in the new projectors to be developed. The film cartridges differed in that the Fuji system's film pack resembled a small cassette tape which also allowed it to be completely rewound if desired. Kodak's "Kodapac" coaxial-designed cartridge had a built-in pressure plate and did not allow rewinding of more than about 270 film frames. Both cartridges had 50- feet of film that allowed 3 minutes and 20 seconds of filming at the new 18 frames per second standard. Both films also offered a larger area of film to be used in the frame due to the reduction in size and relocation of the sprocket holes. Subtle changes were also made in the standards used for projection in terms of gate size and frame rate (18 frames per second instead of the older 16 frames per second of regular 8mm).
From my perspective, the Fuji system was the better format and the one most dedicated to the high standards that carried over from the regular 8mm format. The Fuji system left the pressure plate in the camera and also allowed for rewinding over any length of the roll and for as many times as you desired. However, the Kodak "Super 8" system was marketed to the larger filmmaking audience in the USA first and became the winning the format of choice for the filmmaking public due to the sheer size of the market. Camera makers had to follow the money and most sided with Kodak's design.
Interestingly, despite all of the technological innovations that have occurred over the past 50 years, all three format continue to this day. Kodak still supports super 8 and has even released its newest Vision 3 technology films in the super 8 format. Fuji continues to produce Fujichrome 25 and Fujichrome 200, primarily for the Japanese marketplace. Fujichrome 25 gives superior results than the much cherished and now discontinued Kodachrome. If you still long for the look of Kiodachrome, I highly recommend you give Fujichrome 25 a try. And the regular 8 format also continues due to the efforts of a few important people who place special orders of double perforated 16mm Kodak filmstock and then respool these stocks on to the smaller 25-foot and 100-foot reels hobbiest require for their cameras. The newest Ektachrome 100D filmstock is readily available in regular 8. Quite an impressive accomplishment for a format that the "conventional wisdom" considers long since dead and buried.
And just to prove this last point, this interesting website:
...talks about utilizing a Canon 6.5mm cine lens for use in a digital SLR for achieving good depth of field with a very small field of view. This potential has many applications for scale model people to create realistic photos with accurate depth-of-field recreations similar to how 35mm cameras capture reallife 1:1 scenes. However, the author lost my "respect" when he states: "Cine lenses for the small 8mm format can easily be picked up for next to nothing these days. That format as such is long dead, but the lenses might exhibit interesting features even today." Don't worry, I will email him with this webpage referenced very soon.
Now, back to this classy Canon Eight cine camera. This camera addressed most of the above mentioned "weaknesses" of the regular 8mm format. Specifically, Canon developed a through-the-lens focusing capability. The viewfinder adjusts for each lens used and also accurately compensates for parallax. As you focus the taking lens, the viewfinder moves to suit, accordingly. It also provides for 1:1 viewing through the viewfinder (no more tiny images to guess at like with the Bolex H8 REX). The viewfinder also allows for 2X viewing for accurate framing with the long lenses.
While the Canon 8-T is officially Canon's first small format movie camera (according to Canon's office Online Camera Museum), there was actually another model, the Cine 8-S that did not have the turret or the TTL focusing. Amazingly, an afficiondo in New York in the 1970s managed to actually buy a used Canon 8-S. He has a great webpage with lots of photos and a nice history of his very rare camera. It is here:
The instruction manual (dated November 1957) has this to say about the 8-S: "(The) Canon Cine Eight "S" is identical with the EIGHT "T" except that it has only a single lens mount and has no built-in Unversal Sports Finder Screen or through-the-lens focusing. All Canon Cine Lenses are interchangeable."
Similarly to the single lens and turret lensed Canon Cine 8 models, there are also at least two variations on the Cine 8-T as well. See below:
The first thing to notice is the name change of the camera. The earlier model (on the left) is simply the "Canon Eight" while the later model (on the right) is the "Canon Cine 8."
On my two versions, the earlier one has no provision for speeds slower than 16fps. At least they are not marked on the rotating dial on the side. The newer version added the 12 and 8 frames per second settings. The newer version of the camera also introduced a selection switch for the single frame/continuous frame lever. I noticed on the older one that without this switch I kept accidentally making a single frame exposure when I wanted to film continuously. Obviously, Canon redesigned the switch to get rid of this annoyance.
Another subtle thing was the changing of the red stripe on the lockout switch to a red dot and the removal of the "E-P" red markings on the winding area. The E-P also disappears from the newer lenses.
One other improvement I noticed is that the later model provides for a built-in warning bell that "dings" when you are almost out of tension on the spring. A very nice feature. I should also point out that this is the first camera of any format that provides for click-increment ticking of the footage counter (at least of the many cameras I have handled). The tick occurs at each foot increment. I sure like this feature. Gives a nice clockwork tick to remind you how much you are filming. Finally, the newer version also provides for a "save footage counter" button on the back...if you are dexterious enough, you can hold in this button, open the film door, do what needs to be done and then close the film door and not loose the counter position. The older model does not have this feature.
13mm f1.4 lens:
I was also fortunate enough to pick up the 13mm f1.4 lens on the newer model (along with a second 38mm lens. However, perhaps this 13mm f1.4 lens is a bit fogged as it does not appear as crystal clear as my 13mm f1.8 when using the TTL focusing aid. However, it is a larger lens in diameter and not just a re-apertured f1.8 lens. I think I will try it in low light and see how it does. Perhaps it will give some old school look to the film? All of the lenses have a filter thread of 27mm. My camera came with the original Skylight and UV Canon filters in their orginals plastic cases. Very cool.
13mm f1.8 lens:
I have to say though, if you have as much experience as myself in camera antiques, etc, you will be AMAZED at the viewfinder in the camera. It's as bright as my Nikon F5 with a 50mm f1.4 lens on it. I kid you not. Of all the cameras I have viewed, this one is by far the brightest. On par with the best super 8 cameras out there as well. This would be an excellent low light camera. Compared to my H8REX which is almost unusable on a cloudy day without a lot of guesswork, the Canon viewfinder is a joy to use.
It also offers incredible parallax compensation that works great, as you change focus on the taking lens, the internal eyepiece moves up and down to compensate. Also, the second eyepiece that allows you to determine the focus using a secondary lens is a fantastic feature. No more guessing if you have it right. Just don't forget to transfer the focus setting to the taking lens!
The film speeds and shutter speeds are as follows:
16fps = 1/35th of a second (set your handheld light meter to this
Single Frame Exposure = 1/25th of a second
When using different film speeds, think of your light meter settings in this way:
16fps = 1 (set aperture to proper level)
Like many regular 8 cameras, and unlike 99% of all super 8 cameras, the interchangeble lens options on this camera are fantastic. My camera came with three lenses: a 6.5mm, 13mm, and a 38mm lens. Other lenses available were a 25mm, 50mm, and a 75mm. Additionally, there was a fast 6-element, f1.4 13mm lens available and the incredible Canon Scope lens that allowed a true 1:2.66 format and could be attached to the 13mm, 25mm and 50mm lenses.
The following is from the instruction manual and describes the lenses available at the time:
6.5mm f1.8 - CEIEF - A retro-focus type wide able lens suitable for taking general views. Well-corrected and free from vignetting, this lens gives sharp and well-contrasted images, both in color and black & white. 7 elements, 76 grams, magenta Spectra, hard coating, f1.8 through f22, 27mm filter screw mount.
13mm f1.8 - CEIEG - A standard lens suitable for 8mm cameras which combines high speed and outstanding resolution, this lens is excellent in both color and for black & white. 4 elements, 62 grams, purple Spectra, hard coating, f1.8 through f22, 27mm filter screw mount.
25mm f1.8 - CEIGH - A long-focus lens with a magnification of approximately 2X, it is ideal for medium distance shooting. 4 elements, 68 grams, purple Spectra, hard coating, f1.8 through f22, 27mm filter screw mount.
38mm f1.8 - CEIHI - Because of its 2.7X magnification and outstanding resolution, this lens is idea; for taking candid close-ups of sports events, celebrities, wild life, etc. 4 elements, 77 grams, purple Spectra, hard coating, f1.8 through f22, 27mm filter screw mount.
50mm f2.2 - CEIIJ - Because of its powerful magnification, this lens will act as a macrocinematographic lens at close range, giving greatly magnified image of tiny objects such as flowers and insects.
No summary in the manual of the 13mm f1.4 other than to state it is made up of 6 elements and had a purple Spectra coating. The 75mm f3.2 lens was made up of 5 elements and had a magenta Spectra coating.
All Canon cine lenses have the high speed, outstanding resolving power and functional, as well as optical, perfection which characterizes Canon 35mm still camera lenses. They are all interchangeable and have the special Canon bayonet mount with locking ring that permits them to be interchanged instantly. They can be used on D-mount cine cameras by means of the Canon D-mount coupler. All lenses have a built in sun shade and are in focusing mount.
Remember, this was all available back in 1957. If anyone out there has a Canon Scope lens or the 25mm, 50mm, or 75mm lenses, let me know. I would love to include them and use them with my next outing using Ektachrome 100D.