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Author Topic: Elmo GS1200 Review By Ivan Watson
Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 5003
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 20, 2016 01:10 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ivan Watson was probably the most respected photojournalist in the UK. He wrote a monthly column in Movie Maker, and was noted for his unvarnished, and often vitriolic, reviews of cine equipment. He was affectionately referred to as ' Uncle Ivan' but some people called him 'Ivan the Terrible'!. Ivan hated the plastic, toy-like, designs that were becoming the norm in the products of some of the leading cine manufacturers of the time, and he lambasted them for it.
In November of 1978 an Elmo GS1200 was loaned to him for review in Movie Maker.
Here is a transcript of that article:

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I am NOT usually lost for words. But, if someone asked me to describe briefly the Taj Mahal, I’d be fishing around for adjectives- like a schoolboy trying to answer one of those idiotic examination questions that requires the victim to annotate The Song Of Songs or to translate a Shakespearean sonnet into a few lines of prose. This is how I feel about Elmo’s magnificent new super 8 sound projector- the GS1200.
It’s beautiful. In most respects, it out-performs any other super 8 projector I’ve ever used. It does just about everything. The Elmo research team in Nagoya, Japan, have done a marvellous job. And, despite a relatively hefty price (around 870 pounds in the UK), I’ll be surprised if the distributors – C.Z. Scientific Instruments Ltd- don’t have an outright winner on their hands.
Because you’ve only to take a quick look at the innards of this projector- see and hear how it performs- and, man, you’ll want it! And, if you’re the kind of projectionist who would sell his soul for something that’s as near perfect as human ingenuity can make it, you’ll look around the old homestead to see what you can flog or you’ll try to sweet-talk your bank manager into giving you an overdraft.
Strong words from Uncle Ivan. I’d better tell you why I think that this is currently the best super 8 sound projector in the world (something I’ve never before said about any piece of equipment).
It weighs 31 lbs. That should tell you something. It’s big and handsome. And if you’re one of those old fashioned citizens who pine for the engineering standards of yesteryear, the first thing you’ll do is to look at it very closely to see how they’ve put it together.
You won’t be disappointed. In most respects, it’s the nearest thing you’re ever likely to see to 16mm engineering on a super 8 projector. None of your ingenious pieces of ‘bent tin’, miniscule plastic sprockets, press-on covers, and all the other corner cutting devices I. for one, have learnt to detest and mistrust. The lamp side of the GS1200 is made of good, solid metal and hinges down for easy access to the lamp, film path and lens. It closes with a reassuring click and you don’t spend three or four minutes trying to make it fit.
A solid beautifully machined lens mount hinges outward for easy gate cleaning. When you pull the side down you can get at the film and, if you need to, remove it from the threading path with no trouble at all. The sprockets are metal- upper sprocket 0.75 ins diameter and the lower sprocket 1.25 ins diameter. The film path is simple and direct, without any acute bends to do violence to your splices. Even when they’ve used plastic material (the threading channel for example) the components look a good deal more ‘solid’ than is customary on super 8 projectors. The overall impression is that this projector has been built to work for a long, long time and it isn’t just a sophisticated toy that does a lot of clever things for a very little while. Elmo’s engineering alone would be enough to make me enthuse about this projector.

You Want Features?
With this projector you get them- and in such abundance that I could easily use up the remaining space trying to describe them. So let me try to put the quart into a pint pot by outlining briefly what you get for a not – inconsiderable investment.

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The GS1200 is equipped with an f/1.1 12.5-25mm zoom lens which comes standard. It uses a 24v 200w halogen lamp, with a pre-heat and high and low brightness selector (Strangely, this lamp which is used by at least one 16mm projector and quite a few slide projectors, costs less than some of the lower-power lamps).
Film loading is automatic, with a 1,200ft film capacity (rewind time , 140 seconds). The projector has four motors: (1) electronically governed for steady film transport, (2) a take-up motor, (3) a cooling motor, (4) a rewind motor. Projection speeds are 18 and 24fps with still picture projection and a special 6fps speed, forward or reverse. There’s a built in frame counter-and so many pilot lights for this, that and the other, that when you switch on the power the projector lights up like a Christmas tree. This will impress the peasantry, but in fact the pilot lights are very useful and not put there just for show.
The sound system provides for magnetic record and replay and – we may one day need it for package films!- optical replay. I’d better tell you what you get in the sound department:
The Stereo Sound System. The GS1200 uses Track 1 for the left channel and Track 2 for the right channel. Each channel has a pre-amp and (built into the projector) a 12.5 cm dynamic speaker for stereo performance. 9but of course, if you aspire to a projector of this quality, you’d use extension speakers). The recording level can be controlled automatically or manually with two large illuminated VU meters, with the volume control knobs directly below the meters. The various controls are sensibly co-ordinated for simplicity of operation- the left channel has the control knobs on the left and the right channel has them on the right. Simultaneous or individual monitoring of Track 1 or Track 2 is possible.
N0n-Stereo Sound System. With your original sound on Track 1, you can put additional sound on Track 2,without affecting Track 1.You can transfer from Track 1 to 2 or from 2 to 1. Sound-on sound recording on Track 1 or 2, even during track transfer is possible. Separate jacks for a microphone, tape recorder or record player provide unlimited mixing facilities.
Playback of Track 1 and 2 can be simultaneous or you can play them separately. A control knob is provided to balance the volume of the two tracks. (Normally the volume of the balance stripe recording will be rather lower than that of the main stripe).
Add to the foregoing separate bass and treble controls, public address facilities, a music power output of 15 w per channel and many other features- you’d think that would be enough. But, with this projector, Elmo have obviously decided to give you everything- including a pulse sync projection system for the sound purists who prefer magnetic tape to stripe.
The GS1200 has a built-in pulse synchronizer, speed pulse meter, and fast/slow buttons. This makes possible the simultaneous reproduction of sound on stripe and magnetic tape, the direct transfer of sound between stripe and magnetic tape, and, with the Elmo cassette tape recorder, synchronized reproduction of tape sound.
The main function controls (ON/OFF, FORWARD/REVERSE, RUN and Still) are of the piano key type. They are very positive and easy to use- but if you were born tires and wish to do everything from an armchair, and optional ‘remote control’ accessory is available.
Have I missed out on any other features? The GS1200 instruction manual runs to 68 pages- but don’t let this frighten you. They’ve used a combination of diagrams and photographs for each function which is easy to understand, even if you’re a completely non –technical type. Again, this must be one of the most lucid instruction manuals to come out of Japan. Someone has thought very carefully about this.

Fantastic Light Ouput
You want more light? You wish you could show a ten foot wide bright picture at your local cine club? You’d like twice as much light as you’ve ever seen before from a super 8 projector and the assurance that you’re film won’t get fried? Then, brother, this is the projector for you, even if you have to take out a second mortgage to get it.
I expected the light output to be good. With a 24v 200w halogen lamp and an f/1.1 lens it ought to be. When I projected on a 5ft wide picture, I thought: ”Now that’s really bright”- until I noticed that I had the lamp on the low setting!
How bright? You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve made several checks with more than one foot-candle meter. Here’s the position: on a 3ft wide matt screen, with no film in the gate, the highest central reading I’ve obtained from any super 8 projector is 28 foot- candles. This is very good (I’ve tested most but not every one of the current crop of super 8 projectors. It’s just possible there’s a projector that does slightly better than 28 foot candles, but it hasn’t come my way)
The Elmo GS1200 achieves an astonishing 56 foot- candles- about twice the light output of any other super 8 projector except one fitted with an arc lamp! I didn’t believe it at first- which is why I made a number of tests and used more than one foot-candle meter. Even with the lamp at the low ‘economy’ setting, I got a central reading of 42 foot-candles.
Now I want to be fair. Unless you’re going to project a big picture, you don’t need all this light. 28 foot-candles will give you a brilliant picture in your lounge, at home. But, for those occasions when you’re showing films to a large audience, the GS1200 will spectacularly outshine any other super 8 projector on the market. And, as I mentioned earlier, the lamps don’t cost more than the conventional 12v 100w type.
So, if it’s a case of ‘ Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the brightest of them all?’ – the answer is………..the Elmo GS1200.
About twice as bright.
The Elmo f1.1 zoom lens is a first class performer, with plenty of contrast and good sharpness throughout the zoom range. I’m not going to tell you that it’s the best lens that I’ve ever used on a projector. (The Schneider Xenovaran has the edge on it). But any normal person who is watching a movie and not peering into the far corner of the screen to see if he can detedt a minimal trace of fall-off, will say that the Elmo provides an excellent picture…..and of course , that massive light output adds a good deal of sparkle.

Impressive Sound
In recent years super 8 stripe sound has improved from telephone- quality to better than optical sound on 16mm. The designers and manufactures have done a good job. It would be churlish to suggest (apart from splicing problems) that , with most super 8 sound projectors, the stripe sound is less than adequate. A few projectors do a great deal better than this.
The GS1200 is certainly one of them. To start with it’s mercifully free from hum, even with the volume control turned right up- and with 15w per channel, that’s enough to ensure your neighbour’s will lodge a complaint with the Noise Abatement Society. Elmo have completely redesigned the drive system. There’s no audible trace of wow, at 18fps, and speed stabilization is rapid.
I read the instruction manual and then spent about forty-five minutes getting to know the controls and recording in various modes. The encouraging thing is that , despite the versatility of this projector, it really is simple to operate. You don’t need to be a technical wizard or have the kind of mind that enables you to think of ten things at one and the same time. About one hour with this projector is more than enough for any normally intelligent person to master the whole range of recording functions.
With good extension speakers, the stereo sound is truly impressive. ( I am still amazed at the quality that can be extracted from that narrow balance stripe! ).
I recorded with both the manual and automatic controls and there was never a hitch. The stereo facility is available to those who want it, but I imagine that most people, screening films at home, will be concerned with monaural reproduction. This, too, is as good as I have heard.

Is It Worth the Money?
If you’re a perfectionist – if you want a superbly engineered machine equal to the demands of a big-time show…….and you can somehow afford it, the GS1200 is worth every penny they’re asking for it, After extensive user tests, I find it very difficult to fault this projector. Apart from the curious omission of an inching knob (why, I wonder?), the GS1200 designers seem to have thought of just about everything, Bearing in mind that it’s an extremely sophisticated projector, the new owner will be astonished as I was at how easy it is to use- and delighted with the performance,
And, having praised it so lavishly, I’d better make my peace with the manufacturer’s of less costly sound projectors. The GS1200 is aimed at the top end of the market. Not everybody will want even half the facilities it provides and, however much you may be tempted by the dazzling light output, you could well decide that a good sound projector in the 200 -250 pound price bracket will do everything you require of it.
Elmo have never made anything but movie equipment. Their long experience and know- how should enable them to design and manufacture a sound projector in the Rolls- Royce class….and this is just what they have done, for people with Rolls-Royce money. Certainly you can buy a good super 8 sound projector for less than half the cost of the GS1200. But this is a truly beautiful projector….the first super 8 sound projector on which I would stamp ‘ unqualified approval- excellent’.

Clearly, Ivan was bowled over by the design and performance of the GS1200. He remarked about the machine quality and design for very long term use, but I wonder if even he would have thought that the GS1200 would still be running almost 40 years later!

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Mark Mander
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1236
From: Dunstable ,Bedfordshire.
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 20, 2016 01:58 PM      Profile for Mark Mander   Email Mark Mander   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Paul,
Great article,Must have been a delight to use one of the first machines,If i didn't already have one i'd have bought after reading this!!! [Wink] ,Mark.

--------------------
Elmo GS1200 1.0 lens
Elmo ST1200HD 1.1 lens
Sankyo 800 1.0 lens
Elmo 16CL
Elf NT1

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 5003
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 20, 2016 02:21 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mark, do you know if Movie Maker ever followed up Ivan's review with one of their superb in-depth test reports, usually found in the back of the magazine?

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Mark Mander
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1236
From: Dunstable ,Bedfordshire.
Registered: Jan 2005


 - posted March 20, 2016 02:43 PM      Profile for Mark Mander   Email Mark Mander   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Paul,
Sorry i don't know,I don't have any magazines to check but someone on here may have,Mark.

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Elmo GS1200 1.0 lens
Elmo ST1200HD 1.1 lens
Sankyo 800 1.0 lens
Elmo 16CL
Elf NT1

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Brian Fretwell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1785
From: London, UK
Registered: Jun 2014


 - posted March 20, 2016 05:43 PM      Profile for Brian Fretwell   Email Brian Fretwell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There is a 4 page test report in the March 1980 edition. The only things they didn't like were the weight, no light to show if you have switched back from superimpose sound to normal recording and a tendency to be unkind to cement splices. Price then "around £800" but they thought it good value for money.

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Paul Suchy
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 199
From: Westchester, IL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 21, 2016 06:08 PM      Profile for Paul Suchy   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Suchy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for posting this, Paul. Considering it's age, my GS has been very good to me, but getting a brand new one back then would have been amazing. Are there any forum members who purchased a brand new GS 1200 in the good old days?

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Paul Suchy

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted March 21, 2016 06:22 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
Many, I would say Paul.

That was certainly the time to have got one of these, that's for sure!

As for Paul's enquiry here regarding the test papers, I have every copy from the relevant era now so I will trawl through them, but somehow, only this article sticks to mind.

I do however have many other test papers for this machine from Dutch and German equivalent magazines back in their day.

These were very kindly interpreted into English for me by a kind enthusiast who used to grace our pages here regularly.

They are in either pdf or word format only, but if anyone would like a copy, please PM me and I will mail what I have out to you.

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 5003
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 21, 2016 06:40 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yesterday evening I got a call from Steve Osbourne of The Reel Image. Steve said that he had the original Movie Maker test report on the GS1200 and he is going to send me a copy. When I get it, I will transcribe it and post it on this forum.
Great guy that Steve! [Smile]

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted March 21, 2016 07:16 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
Must be in there somewhere Paul then. Please let me know what edition this surfaces in then please, I must have it somewhere.

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 5003
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted March 21, 2016 08:21 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Andrew,
According to Brian (above) it is in the March 1980 edition of Movie Maker.

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012


 - posted March 21, 2016 08:36 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
Appreciated Paul! I shall delve into my archive of these then soon to retrieve. thanks again Paul for the info! [Wink]

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"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Simon McConway
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1085
From: Doncaster, UK
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 22, 2016 08:11 AM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ivan mentions the omission of the inching knob. With the machine in "still" mode and the pressing either the forward or reverse button, it is possible to pretty much locate an exact frame, as the machine will run at just a few frames per second. So perhaps this is the answer.

Ivan Watson was a brilliant writer. I wonder what he would have thought of the internet and indeed the 8mm Forum? When he wrote this, back in 1978, the internet was a far-off dream!

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John Hunter
Junior
Posts: 30
From: Gretna, Scotland
Registered: Jun 2015


 - posted May 07, 2016 09:24 AM      Profile for John Hunter   Email John Hunter   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
HI All, That is good review from uncle ivan, which I had not read before. However he said the price was "hefty" at £800. Well when I bought mine, towards the end of its import, the price I paid was £1300. This was from I think "Essex", the son held the GS1200, and his dad held I think a big Noris? Great review, thanks.
johnie

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j.hunter

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