Sharing DIY 8mm / Super 8 project for feedback

Pablo, I’m interested in hearing how you did frame detection. How did you determine when to send a “capture” signal to the camera>?

And thank for the detailed info on the workflow. I’m definitely going to try that out!

I can’t seem to see the Nikon link that talks about mirrorless shutter life. It takes me to a login page. Can you repost or copy/paste the info into a sharable Google doc?

@matthewepler Thank you for the comments, and glad that you will share the info in the newsletter.

The harvested gate/mechanism uses a dual pin mechanism to advance the film. Every turn of the stepper motor is exactly one frame. By using a stepper motor, the arduino drives the position of the film. For convenience, the steady state of the gate was configured for the position where the pins are lifted out. If I understand the question correctly, the sequence is, Arduino sends a Capture command and waits for an image transfer confirmation. DigicamControl receives the command and capture the image, when image transfer is completed DigicamControl sends a message to Arduino, When Arduino receives the confirmation, advances the stepper half a turn. In the half turn position the pins are engaged, but the frame has not advanced completely. At this position, the take-up reel advances. If the tension of the take-up reel moves the film slightly at the gate, it is not an issue, since the next step is to complete the turn of the stepper motor which would complete the advancement of the one frame, and leave the pin out in the exact same position the sequence started. The gate is from a Canon S800 projector, and the mechanics are a bit beyond my understanding. But the function of the dual pin advance mechanism is similar to the one on this video.

Given that I have plenty of resolution on the sensor, the DSLR is actually capturing almost two frames (1/2 + 1 + 1/2). Once setup, the mechanism is reasonably stable, but whatever shift from shot to shot can be compensated digitally in Davinci by setting a tilt keyframe, and adjusting the position. The gate also has a mechanical adjustment to position the pins from 8 to Super 8 (horizontal) and to adjust the position of the pins (the frame) vertically.

In summary, there is no frame detection because the film accurate one frame to one turn mechanism. Hope that makes sense.

Regarding the workflow, if you haven’t tried it, NeatVideo is amazing. It is available as a plug-in for Adobe, but given that I went with Davinci, VirtualDub2 was the answer.

This is not the less labor intensive or faster scanner, quite the opposite. 3 hours to capture 50 ft. Then a good deal of adjustments in Davinci. NeatVideo takes about 90 minutes for a good cleaning, and then back to Davinci for final. Again, I was going for best quality (within my budget). However, the capture and Neatvideo are time consuming but unattended processes.

Happy to share any additional information that may be useful, will work on the Arduino comments to share the code next week.


PS. Could not figure out why the Nikon link does not work, Google “Nikon Article ID 000003332” for the info.

Thanks, Pablo. Great stuff.


Great project! Very impressive results.

I too am staring at a stack of 100+ 8mm reels and am considering a DIY approach.

One question that came up after looking at your setup; how do you handle lamp heat? It seems that each frame sits in the full light of the lamp for a rather long time – do you have any trouble with film melting?

Great work!

@TimC Thanks for the nice comment.
Regarding the heat, I am using a piece of a 12V LED strip folded to have the LED chips be closer together. In essence it is not much heat. The exposure I used is about 1/20 for an f11 aperture on the enlarger lens.

Hi everyone!
I’m just starting a similar project with a old eumig prjector as film transport.
I’m using stepper/arduino too. I will try to shoot with a lumix mirrorless dslr (G80/Gh5) so electronic shutter will be used to save mechanical shutter life.
Any downside of using electronic shutter?
They are fast as tradiyional shutter and doesn’t ad numbers on the internal shutter counter.

It has been a while, and after having digitized a 100 rolls of 8/Super 8, and learning about some of the limitations of the setup, it became apparent improvement is needed.
While the previous setup more than good-enough for HD resolution product, on trying a 4K output the limitations really showed. So the goal of the next round would be make 4K good enough, tightening a little bit here and there on the mechanics of the setup.
So it is a work in progress. Will be using the same lens, same camera, same gate. The goal is to improve on the stability, so a better macro bellow was a must, and improving the rigidity between the gate and the camera (within my budget limitations).

Will post more info once I get things presentable, but here is a test picture. Essentially a decent 6K from a Super 8 frame (about 20 megapixel after cropping to 16:9).

Looking forward to the updates! Thanks for sharing the 6K grab.

The new setup (lamp, 2 axle bellow, and dual support for the bellow) made a significant difference in details. Here is a test frame without cropping or correction, enlarger lens at F8, exposure at 1/50s. Great detail on the grain. Still have lots of little work to do on other areas, but is already looking better.
(right click on picture and dowload for details)

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Great setup and sure beats my transfer setup: I hit the frame limit on the DSLR I was using (it was already old when I started) Here is a shot of the footage…Don’t laugh! 1970’s, remember? hah

Hi Jim, sorry it took so long to get back in the forum. Nice setup, whatever works!
I am doing minor adjustments to the second round of the above. I will try to find some time in the next few days to document the second version. Have to say that the Nikon D3200 has been good, and I am well past the shutter takes spec.
I am using DigiCamControl to save the pictures in the computer, but given the usb 2.0 interface on the camera, it is not fast. I am getting about 18 frames per minute RAW 24MP 12 bit raw compressed, and about 28 fpm for 24MP jpeg thru the setup. Let me know if you need any info.


That is good to know. Thanks for the information. I found a Nikon D3200 for ~$200 on bhphoto. I am still going to look into the Raspberry Pi Camera2 module as well, which may be lower cost.

Have been a bit limited to the DIY time, but while I have more time to share more info, would like to share the results of a 50 year old 8mm film, showing some shrinkage. Processed only for color correction, and uploaded on an HEVC 10 bit file to youtube. (be sure to select 4K viewing, even if your resolution is less). - YouTube


Looking good! Loving that solid frame registration. Thanks for sharing!

Just like to post an update, since it has been a while.
I’ve finally got some time to complete some of the improvements on the DIY scanner. My goal has been to get the best image, and to go from great, to really great it has been a long journey.

Working with small film increases the challenge on precision, and it is not small task. Using the same lens, the same camera, and same gate, I’ve manage to squeeze a bit more of the 8 and Super 8 film.

The changes were new dual axle bellow, new integrating sphere lamp (previously it was a diffuser, better control of the stepper, and lots of minor adjustments to make the build a bit more smooth and stable. The picture below is a comparison of the same frame with the old setup on the left, and the new and current setup on the right. The increase on grain detail is remarkable, the picture is 24MP (6000x4000).

The focusing is a challenge, and the bellow is second hand so it has seen better days. The stability of focus is a problem, but still better than it was with the single axle.

Some of the difficulties come from the particulars of the reused gate. Not yet ready, but starting to do some research on building it without Frankensteining the gate.


PS. One change was to open the gate to have the full frame.

This picture is a good illustration that -at least for me- the 8mm DIY scanner is a journey.
From top to bottom:

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