Kodak showed off a brand new Super 8 film video camera at CES in 2016 that blended the iconic film format with some digital quality-of-life features, like digital monitoring of what you’re shooting. The world then heard basically nothing about the camera for many years, and it was assumed to be vaporware. Tuesday night, Kodak suddenly started taking reservations for the camera. It has an MSRP of $5,495 (!) and its battery charges with MicroUSB (!).
Full disclosure, I did not learn about the possible existence of this camera until last month, when I happened upon a promo video of footage shot on a prototype of the camera in 2018. The footage it captures is very beautiful, have a look:
As someone who is newly and earnestly into film photography, my mind started racing: Before even beginning to even grasp the intricacies of still film photography, could I get into a related, more expensive, and even less practical hobby?
Immediately after learning about the camera I then learned that it was probably vaporware. Kodak teased the camera at CES in 2016, let people try it at CES in 2017, and released a sizzle reel of footage from it in 2018. Since then, it has said essentially nothing about it.
Popular photography and videography YouTubers declared it possibly “ABANDONED,” probably never coming, etc. I stopped thinking about it basically immediately because I figured it was just a prototype.
And now, it is here, and it looks like the type of gadget that I will casually lust after but do not actually want. It is exactly what it sounds like: A new video camera for a film format created in 1965. The new camera has a 4” LCD viewfinder, the ability to shoot the film in a 16:9 format, interchangeable lenses, and the ability to monitor and record synced audio onto an SD card. Because of these features, it’s been called an “analog-digital hybrid.”
The camera’s battery charges via MicroUSB, a woefully inadequate, unreliable, and now outdated charging mechanism. This is something that the analog film community has immediately slammed Kodak for, and seemingly speaks to the fact that the camera was designed in 2016 and has apparently not been changed too much since then.
I will not be purchasing this camera because, for me, it is wildly impractical on many levels. Used vintage Super 8 cameras only cost a few hundred bucks. Super 8 film is considered to be relatively affordable, but film videography is still an expensive hobby: One Super 8 film cartridge can shoot roughly two-and-a-half minutes of video at 24fps. A cartridge costs about $35 before factoring in processing and editing.
Still, I think the mere existence of this camera, and the fact that Kodak is choosing to release it at all, is a very good sign for people interested in both film videography and film photography. As I’ve written over the last few months, film photography and videography are both experiencing a renaissance and, after years of people worrying about film shortages and rising prices, there are signs that companies are beginning to realize that people want new film stocks, new cameras, new processing chemicals, and new innovations in the space.
After a company that Kodak licensed its color film developing chemicals decided to stop making them, another company called Photo Systems Inc. announced it would step in and continue making them. A new mystery product is coming December 1 from Harman, which makes the popular Ilford-brand film. Once-skyrocketing film prices are slowly coming down. And now there’s a new video camera, even if I can’t afford it and don’t need it.