This is topic 8mm vs 16mm in forum 8mm Forum at 8mm Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=1;t=013186

Posted by Michael Lamb (Member # 7157) on November 08, 2019, 09:41 PM:
Another post from a newbie.

What are the pros and cons between the 2 formats?

I thought I'd keep is somewhat simple by not specifying standard or super 8 as I'm sure that will fall into place where is makes most sense.

Posted by Melvin England (Member # 5270) on November 09, 2019, 03:47 AM:
Michael - This is a discussion that has the potential of going on forever....

Some of the very basic things to consider are...

The 16mm frame is 4 times the size of a super 8 frame, thus contains far more picture information. The best comparison I can give is like watching a standard TV broadcast, then switching to HD. Although,of course, this example could be used to compare 16mm with 35mm etc.

The size, weight and storage availability with 16mm projectors and films can be very restrictive. Super 8 is far more manageable.More compact and easier to manage and transport.

Film availability. Although there is a massive choice for super 8 , particularly with cut downs, there appears to be a far more number of complete features available on 16mm at reasonable prices, although the quality of the titles does leave a lot to be desired sometimes. That certainly does NOT mean that popular titles aren't available.

Here are just three things to consider. It is a bit like having six of one, and half a dozen of the other. Pros and cons on both sides. I am sure more of our forum colleagues will contribute to this thread in time but at least this gives you a little food for thought in the meantime.

Don't forget, whatever you choose...….it's FILM !....and that is what matters.
Posted by Maurice Leakey (Member # 916) on November 09, 2019, 05:10 AM:
8mm/Super 8 is smaller, and so are the projectors. They will take up much less storage space.
16mm is better quality, but obviously the films take up more space and the projectors are also larger.
The quality of 16mm is far superior. Some Super 8 prints can be poorly printed.
Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on November 09, 2019, 08:07 AM:
16mm has the potential for being sharper, but not all 16mm prints are sharper than all Super-8 prints.

Super-8 has the potential for better sound, but not all Super-8 prints have better sound than all 16mm prints.

Super-8 is easier to store.

The average Super-8 machine is lighter weight than the average 16mm machine.

Zoom lenses are more common in Super-8, so setting up is more flexible, but the prime lenses in 16mm are sharper and brighter.

I only have one 16mm machine, so I can't speak definitively here, but my 8mm machines operate more quietly. I have trouble setting volume on my speakers 20 feet away when I'm standing next to the 16mm machine.

Manual threading is (was?) a little bit of a challenge, but it's like driving a stick shift! (-part of fully appreciating the process!)

I really don't have both for the technical capabilities one way or the other. There are films on either gauge you can't get on the other.
Posted by Tom Photiou (Member # 130) on November 09, 2019, 08:08 AM:
weeeellll, [Big Grin] [Big Grin]
I have started to collect 16mm a few years ago and have collected super 8 for 40 years,
Maurice has it in a nutshell,
The obvious thing is the quality of 16mm, there is nothing wrong with 8mm, sometimes on later prints you could think your watching 16mm, especially the later Derann 80s prints and Disney features, but for me it's simply this,
16mm is definatly pin sharp image every time and great sound every time. Maybe we have been lucky. The sound through our amps blow 80% of our 8mm prints out the window for sound. I have only got one IB Tech print which is Bullitt and it is superb, no super 8 film is on IB tech stock.
16mm has more titles available but they are often one offs or at the very least, very rare to find two or more.
I really am enjoying 16mm right now. The biggest and most obvious downside is indeed the space it requires but we are lucky to have lots of room. despite this i have restricted my number of titles to around 30 (ish)so some will go in order to buy more. Currently i am slowly reducing 8mm in order to fund my 16mm. Also on 16mm you do need something much better than the standard 50mm lens's in order to get a decent size image from the same distance as a super 8 in a standard size room.
Now there will be those who say super 8 is better but at the end of the day the 16mm gauge was not made for the home, it was semi professional and intended for small theatres and TV, and of course the armed forces cinema's, schools and University's etc used it as standard. Quality on a gauge double the width is going to be better.
Super 8 is great, some early titles can be a bit iffy, i do love the digests, anything from a 200ft version to full feature and everything in between but unfortunately so much of it is fading now and all the top titles are too expensive.

As for the items for sale for 16mm, all you have to do is look around, there are some great titles that come up but, and this is only my opinion, the majority is utter crap, plenty of vinegar smelling b/w prints and tons of stuff that i can never understand why people even ask money for it. Old school or college documentary about everything and anything and much of it is RED!! [Wink]
Posted by Paul Adsett (Member # 25) on November 09, 2019, 08:19 AM:
All things being equal, the picture quality of 16mm film is exactly 4X better than 8mm film and about 3X better than super 8 film. Sound quality is another story. 16MM film almost invariably uses a single mono optical sound track, whereas super 8mm film usually has two magnetic tracks, although there are some titles available with a single mono optical track. Optical sound super 8mm is certainly inferior to 16mm optical sound because the optical track is wider on 16mm and the film is going twice as fast. Magnetic sound super 8 however (the vast majority of super 8mm prints) can be far superior to 16mm optical sound. This is particularly true in the case of super 8mm magnetic stereo sound tracks that have been re-recorded from DVD/blu ray sound tracks, which many collectors undertake to do.
Super 8mm was designed for, and is ideally suited for, modest sized screens (up to 8ft wide max) in the home. 16mm comes into its own in larger venues where much larger screen sizes are required. The main challenge that super 8mm has on very large screens is not so much resolution but screen brightness. Super 8mm projectors with xenon or HTI lamps are available and they double the light output available from Halogen lamps, but these high end projectors are very expensive, as are the special lamps they require.
Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on November 09, 2019, 08:41 AM:
I suppose back in the day we could have talked about differences in print prices, but those are no longer behaving predictably!

We alternate 16mm and Super-8 all night Saturday at CineSea and the differences aren't stunning, but then again people tend to bring their best of either gauge.
Posted by Michael Lamb (Member # 7157) on November 09, 2019, 11:28 AM:
First off, thanks for moving the post. I was unsure where to put since covered 2 different formats.

Second thanks for the facts, opinions and insights. I have a much better understanding from your wonderful replies than what I was finding elsewhere. Thank you for taking the time to share what for many or most of those here on this forum is just simple ABCs.

I just started tinkering with my first 8mm projector. It has seen better days but works, sort of, and allows me to play around with the insides to begin to understand basic parts and functions.

I think I'll look for a good super 8, preferably with sound, for now due all most entirely to the space mentioned by all. I was admittedly surprised when I picked up the little Tower unit that I has as to just how small it was.

Thanks again and I hope you all have an amazing weekend.

Posted by Steve Klare (Member # 12) on November 09, 2019, 12:09 PM:
At the end of the day it doesn’t have to be a choice one way or the other: I try to get the advantages of both!
Posted by Bryan Chernick (Member # 1998) on November 09, 2019, 11:04 PM:
The reason Kodak developed 8mm film in the first place was to make it affordable enough for the consumer market. The vast majority of home movies were shot on 8mm and Super 8. Since those consumers usually bought projectors I suppose that opened the market for commercial prints. If you’re going to watch home movies and commercial prints staying with an 8mm format is the way to go unless want to get more projectors.

Visit for free equipment manual downloads. Copyright 2003-2019 Film-Tech Cinema Systems LLC

Powered by Infopop Corporation