Sunday, November 26, 2023


On Thursday 23rd November, I received an extremely unexpected e-mail: 

“Beginning December 4, 2023, limited quantities of the KODAK Super 8 Camera will be available to U.S. customers. Availability outside the U.S. will be announced at a later date. If you are interested in purchasing a camera once it is available in your country, you must sign up on Kodak's NEW camera reservation list by November 28, 2023, opting in to communications from third-party retailers authorized by Kodak. By completing the new form by the deadline, you will maintain your position from the previous list.”

The Kodak Super 8 Camera was originally announced in 2016, at which point I joined the reservation list. In the absence of further announcements in the following years, I seriously considered whether Kodak was serious: like Polaroid, RCA, and Blaupunkt, the Kodak name has been licensed for everything from cheap AA batteries to tablet computers and blockchain mining, its original business of making camera film now the preserve of professional and “prosumer” especially, especially if a roll of 35mm still camera film can cost nearly £10.

Still, I was intrigued by the possibilities of shooting motion pictures on Super 8 film, using Kodak film cartridges, with a camera that included innovations from camcorders like an LCD screen for a viewfinder, and the ability to record sound onto an SD card placed into the camera. Once developed, the film would be returned to you with a link to download a video film in 4K resolution. I was excited by the possibilities of what I could make – the two-and-a-bit minute run time of a cartridge would be a fun challenge. Kodak announced this camera with a projected price of between $400 and $750 – seeing as the next nearest camera available is the Arri 416, a 16mm industrial film camera with a 2023 price tag of £78,000 (but available to rent), the Kodak Super 8 Camera would have fostered its own industry of filmmakers.

The price of the camera has increased after seven years, but not with inflation: Kodak will now be charging a horrifying $5,495 for a camera that does not appear to have been developed since 2016, having retained the originally announced design. This will be purely for professional use only, demanding professional prices, completely severing me from the possibility of buying one for myself – even the new registration film assumes you are working in the film industry, with a space to write in “other” occupations and intended uses. In 2023, the presence of a replaceable battery should have been enough of a sign this will be a professional product, even if charging it by micro USB appears to be a holdover from 2016. It feels like what could have been a mass-produced camera will now be assembled by hand like a Swiss watch.

For most, the Kodak Super 8 camera’s place in film history has been taken by the Apple iPhone, because its camera has been constantly developed to approach a professional results while being as simple or as advanced to use as its user requires. For the next level up, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, with a DSLR form factor producing 6K pictures approximate to Super 35 film, a cinematic motion picture standard, costs half what Kodak are charging for their camera, even if you have to buy the lenses separately. You can apply the film grain in post-production...

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