Befinitiv's Latest Raspberry Pi Build Brings a Classic Super 8 Cine Camera Into the 21st Century

This clever — and non-destructive — upgrade adds digital capabilities, including streaming, to a classic of home cinema.

Pseudonymous maker "befinitiv" has once again designed a digital upgrade for a classic film camera, this time refreshing an old Super 8 cine film camera with a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

"Nowadays [Super 8 cameras] are almost unusable right now, because these cartridges are really hard to get," befinitiv explains in the project's video, brought to our attention by Adafruit. "You can find them still, here and there, but shooting one roll of film will cost you roughly €60 (around $70) — and this is €60 euros for three minutes worth of poor quality video."

This clever replacement cartridge offers a Super 8 camera digital capture and Wi-Fi capabilities. (📹: befinitiv)

The obvious solution: Taking a $10 single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and an Omnivision OV5657-based camera module and packing them inside the camera in a 3D-printed replica of the original film housing — instantly giving the camera high-resolution digital still and video capabilities, and even offering Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming.

It's not befinitiv's first shot at packing a Raspberry Pi and a digital camera sensor into an older camera body: Earlier this year the maker did the same trick on a classic Cosina Hi-Lite DLR camera body, using the same approach of replacing the film cartridge with a 3D-printed equivalent housing a Raspberry Pi Zero W and camera module.

"There's also an optical sensor that detects when the original camera is moving," befinitiv notes, "so that this cartridge can start to film whenever the user presses this button. This really feels as if you were filming with an 8mm camera, because it looks the same, it sounds the same, it feels the same, so that's quite neat — but what i didn't expect was the nature of the videos coming out of this. These videos feel so much like an 8mm recording."

The full video is available on befinitiv's YouTube channel, while the Python source code has been published to GitHub under an unspecified license and the 3D models are available on Onshape.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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