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My Elmo 1012S-XL arrived by mail today. It cost $90, with a free Ektachrome 64T cart.

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  • My Elmo 1012S-XL arrived by mail today. It cost $90, with a free Ektachrome 64T cart.

    So My Elmo 1012S-XL turned up in the mail today... I took it out and put it on my turntable. It's basically in near mint condition... It even came with a free roll of Ektachrome 64T all be it I don't know how long its been sitting in hot air for so not sure whether I'll get any useful footage out of it, but anyway... Out with the Yik Yak, you can see for yourself in Cinema 4K how good of a condition it is in.

    It actually looks to be in worse condition than what it is due to what 4K picks up in video. I didn't realise it would highlight all the fingerprint marks on it, and the adhesive tape (on the other side of the camera) from the last owner and the label they put on it with their name, but oh well.

    I tested it, in 18, and 24fps, its in pristine condition with no noises other than the ones you would expect from the shutter mechanism. I would have never thought I would have stumbled across one of these for so cheap. It's pretty much the last venture anyone would bother to go to before jumping off onto an M mount or C mount camera (and I doubt you would get a better lens).

    On the wide end the Elmo 1012S-XL provides you with a 7.5mm F/1.2 lens which is stupidly wide and bright for Super 8 giving you a camera that is good for just about ever conceivable scenario. It wasn't really technically conceivable to make a better lens in 1978 and it didn't really happen even with C mount until much later on at least not with rectilinear wide angle lenses.

    The funny thing with these cameras is that the lens is so heavy and front weighted in terms of centre of balance that these cameras won't stand up on their pistol grip under their own weight. Luckily for me for storing it, it came with its original carry bag.

    While these cameras are less well known than lets say a Nikon R8 or R10 they are just as good, and often with the stupid prices attached by "gear hoarders" these cameras are often quite a lot cheaper than the equivalent Nikon when you can find them. It's often surprising how little people know about what the "Electric Light Machine Organisation" Aka "Elmo" was and what it still is today.

    But with the lens in this camera (if you turned overscan off) and shot with something like 50D, you would be surprised that it wasn't 16mm when scanned at 4K.

    Last edited by Orestes Roumeliotis; March 17, 2023, 05:26 AM.

  • #2
    That lens sounds great for indoor filming at home without much or any extra lighting.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Brian Fretwell View Post
      That lens sounds great for indoor filming at home without much or any extra lighting.
      That's what these cameras were designed for. When you see a Super 8 camera with an XL designation on it, it generally means Extended Light (rather than Extremely Large as with clothes). Most cameras with an XL lens will extend to an aperture of something like F/1.2 (in this case). Although with this Elmo and its sibling (it had a 600 series that was almost identical) also do have a hot shoe. You simply take off the shotgun microphone on it, and you can replace it with a movie light, if you need more light for indoor lighting.

      However, yes, I digress, these cameras were designed for shooting indoors, during the day, with reasonable internal available lighting, or alternatively well into the evening where other cameras would have given up their puff (or alternatively where you would have attached a 1000watt movie light for blinding people with). Thankfully these days you can get smaller, less powerful, light panels if you need a pop of light, or for special effects from places like AliExpress in China for all of about $30 that are battery operated if you need a "movie light."

      You would only really use a movie light for reportage style shooting anyway. Like most other forms of photography, a basic understanding of lighting tells you that if you put a light on the camera you would end up with flat looking light as you see on TV reporters when you're watching the news.

      I guess that's what these Elmos were designed at though. TV/News reporters back in the day during the 1970s for the short time before Beta Max and VHS became a thing, then shortly after that (in Japan) HI8 recorders that would eventually lead to the one George Lucas shot "Attack of the Clones" on. Ironically Super 8 when scanned correctly will produce a better image quality than any HI8 camera, it just costs five times as much to shoot (and that's a low estimate). But then Lucas came full circle because he originally did shoot much of his original ideas for Star Wars on an 8mm Bolex camera which is a good point to end that reference point of conversation. Realising as he did, that nobody would notice the degradation of quality, and that whole enterprise was about getting "digital" effects on film at a much lower price using tape to film transfers, at a time where it was necessary as non-linear editing hadn't caught up yet...

      I digress, these are great cameras (provided you have the money to shoot more than 5minutes worth of footage) which most people don't...
      Last edited by Orestes Roumeliotis; March 17, 2023, 06:36 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Orestes Roumeliotis View Post
        ...When you see a Super 8 camera with an XL designation on it, it generally means Extended Light..
        When I bought an XL camera around 1975 the dealer said XL stood for Existing Light.
        Indeed, I shot Ektachrome 160 with normal indoor lighting without the need for any further lighting.


        • #5
          I also meant that the wide angle of the lens meant you could film bigger groups of people in normal size rooms.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Brian Fretwell View Post
            I also meant that the wide angle of the lens meant you could film bigger groups of people in normal size rooms.
            Yes, at 7.5mm you're getting something fairly wide on a Super 8 camera, where it's hard in a lot of cases to get something less than 10mm in a lens. That comes down to not having the science to make a rectilinear lens in the 1970s that was that wide, or as with modern lenses, making them reliant on in camera software correction to make a piece of glass "look" rectilinear when its clearly not... There in lies the problem that a lot of modern lenses come with a bunch of compromises as they're not designed with optics first but on the "Skunk Works" principle that "even a brick could fly if you attach enough computer assisted technology to it."

            That theory leaves us with modern lenses where:

            "even a wide angle lens could look fly if we use in built software in the camera to make it so...."

            OK... Since then there are even cheap Fujinon lenses (for CCTV cameras) that are around 4mm and rectilinear in C mount... But I never really started this thread to talk about C mount 8mm cameras from exotic brands or M mount Leicina cameras.... This thread is about how underrated Elmo cameras really ever were... Because this was basically one of two Super 8 cameras that Elmo got just about perfect.

            Hey, I'm not complaining about modern cameras either, I wouldn't have been able to upload that video above without one. They have a time and purpose... As I got more advanced in my knowledge about camera gear though I adopted the philosophy that less is more though sometimes... and that, that video I uploaded, which is something even modern phone cameras can capture, looks clinical, sterile and cold.

            There is something about Super 8 as a format that makes movies, before you apply any filters, or dare I say it "LUTS" in Premiere, Final Cut (or dare I say it iMovie or DaVinci Resolve if that's all you have). Super 8 just has that something about it that says "this is what movies should look like."

            As to the lens, having a 7.5mm lens well, even Wally Pfister himself along with Christopher Nolan predicted it, the wider the lens, the more realistic the image should be (which was in reference to 3D movies at the time) I digress... Yes, and thats why as a cinematographer Pfister shoots movies like Inception, The Dark Knight or whatever on 65mm film using wide angle lenses... Sometimes more is more, as it brings more to the table...

            Of course thats also an Akira Kurasowa philosophy if you want to look up his working philosophy also, you just need to know how to put the right pieces together on that "chess board" when you are using wide angle lenses. But then I also like understanding the things that make things work from a technical level to know why a movie like "Dreams" works and study the hell out of it to do so.

            If you want to know how a wide angle lens works, this is a movie to study knowing its one thing to fit everything in, but its another to think about what every piece of that "everything" is. Kurosowa's "​Dream"​ about Vincent Vangogh at 1hour and 3minutes is probably the best "​Dream"​​ montage from the movie... if you only have 10 minutes... But the whole movie is a cinema masterpiece.


            I mean, I could start another thread for wide angle lenses and capturing the full elements of things but that is because I've studied Arts.


            In a more straight forward sense you only have to really capture three things as per The Dark Knight... The people moving in the background which is the Kurosowa concept of motion, and the frame, which Pfister has used a technique which is deliberately polarising of putting a man in the middle of a wide scene, to draw ourselves to the attention, we are everyone, and we are known, and with our backs turned to the world, and with a mask we can be anything we want to be including good and evil... Which spells out the entire premise of the movie.

            That's really what a wide angle is for. But then I don't or at least shouldn't need to tell you that, it's pretty much why this movie is a modern masterpiece and won so much acclaim. If I filmed as well as I could explain things I might win some awards also, but that isn't what life's about...

            The mask also indicates that it's sometimes better off being no one than someone, for a myriad of reasons, not just crime or good vs. evil.
            Last edited by Orestes Roumeliotis; March 17, 2023, 05:26 PM.


            • #7
              XL cameras also had a slower shutter speed ....about 1/28 of second to permit more light in. I believe some cameras gave you an option for a normal shutter speed for daylight use.


              • #8
                Another underrated camera from the early 70's is the Elmo Super 110. This has got to be the nicest lens I have on any of my Super 8 cameras. The lens produces very sharp, contrasty images on Ektachrome. The Elmo Zoom 1.8 / 7 - 70 mm was used on several of their higher end models during the early to mid 70's. It's also the quietest camera in my collection. Its an all metal camera with leather wrapping.

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                • #9
                  Hi Shane,

                  Your Elmo is another great example... They were really doing there thing in the 70s, it's a pity VHS and Beta Max were right around the corner. Not all that many people got to realise how good Elmo was as a company. The advantage that the 1012S-XL had is that it could take the 200ft cartridges which would have made much more sense than getting about two and a half minutes worth of recording time on a 50ft cartridge. These were actually viable as a format up until the mid 2000s due to another company that brought it back to life and even offered 400ft cartridges.

                  Unfortunately, not all that many people saw it as a viable option to record on 8mm, where in actuality I think it's one of the most authentic formats if you are going for the "film look" which is why I picked this camera up.

                  The other advantage of the Elmo 1012S-XL is that it has a fully servo synchronised sound recorder onboard. Not many other cameras had such options. You don't need a sound cart when your camera has an onboard auxiliary microphone port which gives you a full 1/8th sound output, it's not XLR but its the best you can do with analogue.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thomas Dafnides View Post
                    XL cameras also had a slower shutter speed ....about 1/28 of second to permit more light in. I believe some cameras gave you an option for a normal shutter speed for daylight use.
                    You are also correct with this...