Fun with Retrofitted 8mm vintage camera

Digitize a vintage 8mm camera. Not for the sake of convenience, but for the enjoyment of video recording.

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Shooting video is very fun and convenient. Nowadays, it is easy to enjoy with smartphones, but before we were born, it would have required more difficult techniques.
The fact that video can be easily taken is very valuable, but I feel that the fun has been lost a little.

For this project, we plan to modify an 8mm video camera manufactured 70 years ago and shoot digitally.
Without destroying the camera, we plan to revive it as a device that allows us to enjoy the fun of filming, albeit a little inconveniently.

The camera modified for this project is a Bell & Howell Magazine-loading 8mm camera model 172, which was produced in the 1950s and uses the double-8 film standard. The film feed and shutter are powered by a spring, and once the spring is wound up, the camera can shoot for approximately 35 seconds at 16 fps. In addition, a single roll of film can shoot back and forth, recording about 100 seconds per side.
There is not a single item that can be controlled automatically; aperture and focus are controlled by the lens, and exposure time is fixed in conjunction with the frame rate.
The preview is not visible and the viewfinder is very small, so it takes a lot of technique to get the video you want.

Of course, I have never shot with 8mm film, but the goal of this project is to recreate the fun of the surprise box, where you don't know the result until the film is developed.

  • 1 × Bell & Howell Magazine-loading 8mm camera model 172
  • 1 × Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W
  • 1 × Arducam for Raspberry Pi Zero Camera Module OV5647
  • 1 × USB rechargeable 6P Battery

  • Maintenance

    AIRPOCKET@rastaman vibrationa day ago 0 comments

    Immediately after purchase, it was in good shape, but suddenly the shutter stopped working. Since it is an old machine, we enjoy this kind of trouble as well.

    Remove the flat-head screws on the four corners of the body to remove the case cover.
    The mechanism is held in place by six more screws.
    Since the viewfinder lens is also attached to the mechanism, both objective and ocular lenses were removed to take out the mechanism.

    Since there were no cracks or chips on the parts, I moved the gears by hand and they started to move little by little. Perhaps some deteriorated grease or dust got caught in the gears.
    Many failures of old cameras and watches are said to be caused by deteriorating grease.

  • Creaning

    AIRPOCKET@rastaman vibrationa day ago 0 comments

    Although the camera's performance was not affected, the surface material had deteriorated and was beginning to peel. We will not decide how to finish it, but will clean it first.

    The skin material seems to be synthetic leather. It was glued together with glue, but both the glue and the synthetic leather have hardened and deteriorated from the surrounding area and are peeling off. We removed everything and cleaned it.

    There is a possibility that we will make a new surface material and reapply it, so we will keep the removed surface material and measure it later.

  • System Considerations

    AIRPOCKET@rastaman vibrationa day ago 0 comments

    Now that the camera has been confirmed, we have come up with an outline of the system.

    • The size of the camera should be the same as a film magazine.
    • The system should include a camera, microcontroller or SBC for control, recording media, and batteries.
    • The battery can be small in capacity, but it should be replaceable.
    • A method to detect the shutter timing should be provided.
    • The shooting conditions are controlled by the 8mm camera, so the shooting conditions on the system side must be fixed.
    • The shooting conditions of the system should emulate the performance of film.
    • The frame rate should be 64, which is the maximum value of the camera.
    • Movies are shot in conjunction with the shutter release.
    • A video file is output every 100 seconds, which is equivalent to one roll of film.
    • No preview display.

    These are the items we can think of now, but we will add or change them as needed during development.

    A Raspberry Pi Zero or Zero2 may be sufficient to meet the specifications.

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