jueves, 7 de marzo de 2019

ELMO S800 SINGLE-8 CAMERA

The Japanese brand Elmo is one most admired by the narrow gauge ciné enthusiast, because this firm is responsible for one of the Super-8 more technically valuable projectors -the famous GS1200, particularly interesting in its versions PCom and Xenon. 
Elmo, however, is also the brand that, once, in the late 60s, did a ciné madness that, at the time, was  on the verge of taking the company into bankruptcy, the C300 camera, whose body could be adapte to shoot in all the 8 mm formats: Standard 8, Super 8, Single 8 and Double Super-8. 
Additionally, Elmo has its name in golden letters in the heart of filmmakers, thanks to other technical goodies, a few of which are enumerated: 
1) the only Japanese brand to manufacture a 9.5 mm projector; 
2) ability to produce on a commercial scale a device for Super-8 in 3D;
3) responsible for the first 16 mm projector with stereophonic optical sound; and
4) the first f 1.0 zoom lens with high optical quality. 
A SINGLE-8 CAMERA THAT IS NOT FROM FUJIFILM
When we write about the Single-8 format in the Western World, everyone inmediately thinks of Fuji. Few filmmakers know that others manufactures, like Konica, Canon, Yashica and Elmo,  also constructed cameras for this ciné format. In fact, Elmo supported Single-8 more than any other brand, not counting the promoter of this format, Fujifilm. Elmo made available ten different models from 1965 to 1975. In this exclusive range for Single-8, the S800 is the top model in the Elmo stable.
REVERSE FILMING BEFORE FUJIFILM.
The availability of shooting in reverse, something that Fuji only offered in 1974 and only with its professional conceived ZC1000, was an constant of Elmo in all Single-8 models, from the simple and cheap, like the Elmo pocket S30, to the jewel in the crown S800. All the Elmo Single-8 cameras, without exception, allow reverse filming.
But it is necessary to clarify, neverthless, that filming in reverse with this camera causes a variation in the frame line, and, although little, is sufficient to requiere frame correction in projection. This does not happen with the Fujica ZC1000, but, of course, we are speaking of a camera that is not comparable, because it is on another price level. 
ELMO S800 VERSUS FUJI Z700 & 800.
The S800 appeared in Japan in 1975 to compete with the Fujica Z800 and Z700, that were sold in 1971 and 1972, respectively, for 78000 and 69000 yen, whereas the S800 cost 98000 yen. The S800 has four adventages over the two competing models from Fuji: 
1) the main one is the electric reverse shooting or rewing (the two Fuji models only allow manual rewinding);
2) macro at any focal lenght;
3) its smaller weight (1 kilo against 1 kilo 400 grams); and
4) slightly superior slow motion speed (48 f.p.s. against 36 f.p.s.), with instantaneous commutation without needing to interrupt shooting.
Fuji Z800, Fuji Z700 and Elmo S800 cameras share some common characteristics, like single frame shooting, 18 and 24 f.p.s. and variable shutter between 0 and 160 degrees, lockable at any setting. 
Besides the price, the Fuji is superior in the quality of the lens. Both the Z700 and Z800 have lenses with E.B.C. coating, then a technical innovation and nowdays only used in very professional lenses. 
Additionally, both Fuji models have a circular iris, as in professional lenses, whereas the Elmo has a simple diaphagm of two blades, common in Super-8 cameras. 
ELMO S800: A VERY GOOD CAMERA FULL OF FEATURES.
First surprise of the camera is its little weight. The construction, although good, and able to maintain the camera totally operative after more than 40 years, is not of the highest quality as in the Fuji Z700 and 800, beside those four points already commeted on above:
1) the pressure plate is fully metallic;
2) frame counter: although it is not digital, like the one in the ZC1000, is sufficiently precise for superimposed titles and lap dissolves;
3) the grip is removable, which adds stability when placing the camera on a tripod; and
4) the S800 has a flash synchronising  contact, which in the Z800 is optional. 
I bought my unit some years ago in Retro Enterprises, in Tokyo, but recently a Japanese friend gave me another Elmo S800 as a present, in its original box and brand new: a camera that had not been sold in all these years! Surely they are the only two S800 models that there are in Spain, and, one of them perhaps the only brand new one in the World!
Note: I wrote this article for British ciné magazine INTERNATIONAL MOVIE MAKING. It was published also in German in CINE 816.

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