Should Analog Devices go Digital?


The folks at hayesburban found a way to revitalize some old analogue device for the digital age before it is made a door stopper. The NoLab Super 8mm digital cartridge is just one device that can be used in place of the traditional film cartridge. The Super 8mm NoLab module sticks into any Super 8mm analogue camera and in the process, makes the film camera from a bygone era usable again.

The specifications are as follows:

  • 720p HD video capture in 4:3 format
  • Frame rate automatically adjusts to camera settings (up to 60 fps)
  • Integrated Film Look options
  • Unlimited storage via removable SD card
  • Battery and recording status light
  • Image Sensor:  5 megapixel Omni Vision OV5600 series
  • Video Encoding: 720p HD H.264 (4:3)
  • Memory:  Removable high capacity SD card
  • Connections:  One mini USB port (primarily for charging)
  • Battery:  Rechargeable LiPo battery providing up to 3 hours of continuous recording
  • Housing:  Machined aluminum, color anodized and laser etched
  • Height:   70mm
  • Width:    75mm
  • Depth:    24mm
  • Weight:   160g

Once the technical problems have been sorted out, this project will go to Kickstarter or Indiegogo for funding. Right now, it is still in the tweaking stage.

Should Digital be the Way Forward?

I have my doubts but then again it's not for me to decide. It's just like GMO foods, if you are fine with it, then let's go all the way. 

For me, such a project isn't exactly innovative. There has been attempts to revitalize analog cameras in the past by replacing the film intake with a digital back. NoLab is taking on this same approach and let's say you do get the camera working again with a digital Super 8mm, what then? Would you rather shoot with such restrictive features such as 720p? People these days are already yelling for 4K video capture. 

Then you have the stalwarts who buy analogue for the sake of shooting film.Why would they go digital? Your iPhone probably has better video quality than a Super 8mm camera running a digital cartridge. 

In the end, it makes no sense at all to continue maintaining a digital feed on a analogue device. It just doesn't quite cut it. 

Why We Shoot Film

The whole concept of analogue is to have something you can hold onto, a moment in history that is not vaporous in nature. That's why people shoot film. People do not shoot film to convert to silky smooth digital videos for fun. It makes no sense. If you want a final digital feed, you can always shoot the footage digitally and put in the analogue effects during post production. People are not sharp enough to tell the difference. Some say that it is not genuine but only experts can tell the difference if the footage is shot on film as the majority of people have lost their eye and appreciation of anything analogue.

Though I applaud the spirit of such a venture, I do feel that such products are doomed to commercial obscurity. In the end, it is all about creative license versus cost. The reason why people are shooting so much digital videos and image is because of cost. It cost you next to nothing to have a moment ingrained on Facebook. Having a film roll shot, process and projected on screen has become a creative endeavour. The artist and the art isn't about cost, it is about the approach to showcase your creative excellence. Cost is never a concern when it comes to such artistic expressions.

So please continue to shoot film and if you feel the urgent need to go digital, there is always the iPhone which does it all.