sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2020




Only a handful of sound Super-8 projectors were made with a great German idea: the rear sprung pressure plate, in the lamp side. This allows to project films of different thickness (polyester with triacetate, Ektachrome 100 with Provia 400, camera originals with print positives), without the need to adjust the focus during projection, as this arrangement allows the distance between the emulsion and the lens to be constant regardless of the film thickness. All motion pictures projectors should have been manufactured in this way.

Which model has rear sprung plate combined with a swing open type lens holder, together with a first class lens? The one chosen by Steve Jobs for his London house and sold to him by Lee Cameras, the Braun Visacustic 2000, possibly the most elegant machine of all. 

This lovely jewel of German technology  can project at 16 2/3, 18, 24 and 25 frames per second (with fine adjustment of plus / minus 1 frame), stereophonic sound, digital LED counter with LED and 150 W  lamp.

The Visacustic 2000 Digital has other features: 1) it can be synchronized with other devices, as DVDs; and 2) the pull down moviment  is so fast that it is able to get more light on the screen with a 150 W lamp, cheap and easy to find, than others with 200 W.

All Braun Visacustic 2000 projectors offer a very sharp and flat picture on screen. This is not only due to the rear sprung pressure plate but also that in the Braun factory, when they received from Schneider each batch of the famous f 1.1 11-30 mm zoom, they checked each lens individually: a third of each shipment was returned (and, perhaps, mounted on other brands?). 

Another interesting point of the Braun Visacustic 2000 is that the projector itself it is placed on a loudspeaker box that can be separated from the projector and placed under the screen: the machine thus becomes a very small wonder, very easy to keep in a closet at home, without your wife protesting! There is a cheaper version of the Braun, the Viscustic 1000, without a digital counter, with a 100 W lamp instead of 150 W one,  and without the Schneider lens.

For those filmmakers that space is not a problem,  the Mercedes Benz of Super-8 projectors with rear sprung pressure plate is the Beaulieu Studio Stereo, a French projector with a German heart, which remained in production until the nineties (with two previous versions). But I will write about the Beaulieu in other installment of this series, the one dedicate a high range projectors.

Also, in another chapter,  I will write about two other brands with rear sprung pressure plate machines:  the German Noris and the French Heurtier that, due to their importance in the world of Super-8, deserve extended chapters.

Of great interest, in the category of projectors with this type of rear sprung pressure plates, is a very well built projector in Germany, that can be bought for peanuts!, the Afga Sonector S Automatic

Introduced in 1969, it not only has a lamp side pressure plate, but the lens holder is of the fully swing-open type, as in the Braun Visacustic, the Elmo range or the Beaulieu. 

In addition, it uses a lamp of the same halogen lamp of many slide projectors (so, only the bulb), with its corresponding condenser lenses and mirror built-in the projector. 

This kind of lamp is very cheap (about eight euros, or even less) and it can last up to 2,000 hours. The sound level meter is really beautiful, of the "eye magic" bar type: amazing!  

The only drawback of this projector is that it only accept up to 120 meters spools.


Rear sprung pressure plate (in the side of the lamp) is a technical achievemet and the ideal solution for projecting Super-8 films. The reason that only a few European manufacturers have supported this great German idea is that the cost of mass production is higher. If budget is not an issue, my recommendation is to buy a Braun Visacustic 2000 Digital projector, but you can still get a great projector with rear sprung pressure plate with a small pocket, and reliable and cheap to maintain, with the Agfa Sonector S. If you are a silent man, then, the Bolex 18-5, sold in the late ´60s, could be ideal for you (available too for 8 mm).

In this series of ten articles, a digest of the one published in the international magazine SilverGrain Classics, are described the most interesting projectors to buy, depending on the use they will be put to. 

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