Say hello to the Bauer S609XL, my new super 8 camera.
Since Kodak’s super 8 camera has been continuously pushed back, and every time we hear something the price goes up, I thought it was time to future-proof my ability to shoot super 8 film with a high-quality used camera, made in the early ’80s (which means it isn’t going to cost me $2000). The Bauer Neovaron 6-51mm f/1.2 has a reputation as an extremely sharp lens. Of course there’s no such thing as a best super 8 camera, every one has its drawbacks. With the Bauers, the most glaring issue is its limited accepted film speeds of ASA40 and 160. I found the solution to this problem thanks to my super 8 compadres Marc Marti and Ignacio Benedeti, who discovered a camera tech in France named Andre Egido who fixes only Bauer and Nizo cameras. I don’t know the full details of how it works, but there must be some potentiometer used for the fine-tuning of the light meter, Mr. Egido drills a hole in the casing and adds a knob with correct markings so that one is able to manipulate the auto exposure at will and set either 40 or 160 to a lot more film speeds. This means that I can correctly expose the new Ektachrome 100, Kodak 500T, and whatever else comes along in the future. The S200-700 models can be modified to read any ASA25-400, some of the others are a bit limited, only ASA40-200, but still a heck of a lot better than nothing at all.
And it didn’t cost too much either, thankfully, between buying the camera and having it shipped to France, then the modification, parts, and shipping to me in Colorado. Altogether I spent less than $300.
Speaking neither German nor French, I owe an incredible debt to Google Translate. Modern technology can sometimes be wonderful. I bought the camera off ebay from a camera store in Austria, requested it be shipped to Mr. Egido in Paris, being in contact with Mr. Egido previously so that he would know to expect the camera and it worked out…with a few snags. Either Osterreichische Post is very rough with packages or the camera store didn’t wrap it very well, either way there was damage to the filter ring and battery door, requiring that I pay extra for replacement parts (but thank God they’re available). I did ask for pictures of the damage but never got them, so much for trying to claim insurance. I knew it was a gamble, and even with the extra parts it was much cheaper than shipping from Austria to America to France. The downside of course being that one cannot verify the condition beforehand.
All fixed up!
I mentioned that the Bauers’ most glaring issue is its limited film speed reading? The other big downside (for the XL/existing light models) is its fixed shutter angle of 220 degrees, about 1/40 second, a bit blurry for fast motion and camera movements. Some have a shutter angle of 150 degrees which is about 1/60 second, and the results are reported to be much sharper because of this, and makes the Canon 1014XLS with its dual shutter angles more versatile (the Canon’s main drawbacks being its weight and a lens that gets quite soft at wider apertures). I’ll see for myself just how blurry that extra 2/3 stop is soon, but it’s my hope that it won’t be too glaring of an issue.
I’m pretty satisfied with the work done and the price, having a camera that should be reliable for years to come is a necessity I’ve come to understand in the last few years. If you have one of the later Bauer models, you have a good camera that at the very least can shoot Tri-X, Vision3 50D and 200T. If you send it off for a CLA and ASA modification, and you will have an incredibly versatile camera that should last you a good long time.
Andre Egido’s website is http://cine-super8.net/ and he has Bauer and Nizo cameras for sale on there, along with film, camera parts, and lots more. To get in touch with him directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I sent him emails in French using Google Translate, though he does understand Spanish and some English, I think it’s nicer if you use his language, plus I’m told he’s quicker to respond if you use French.
Ignacio Benedeti’s article on his Egido-modified S409XL