Nolab Digital Super 8 Cartridge to Breathe New Life into Old Super 8 Film Cameras


A lot of film people have deep connections to Super 8 cameras, once the medium of choice for everyone from film school students to porn directors. But it’s getting harder and harder to actually use the things, as stocks of film cartridges dwindle.

To the rescue comes Nolab, a project to build a digital adapter that will allow any Super 8 camera to shoot 720p HD video.

Ortho Hero

The Nolab cartridge uses a 5-megapixel sensor similar to an average smartphone chip but adapted to sync with a Super 8 camera’s shutter and 4×3 aspect ratio. Accompanying circuitry automatically adjusts frame rate to match camera settings, applies one of two film look options and saves video to an integrated SD card reader. Power comes from a LiPo battery recharged via miniUSB port and good for three hours of continuous recording.

Nolab, launched by designer/cinematographer/serial entrepreneur Hayes Urban, has a working prototype and is now working on mechanical and electrical design. No word yet on expected delivery date or pricing.


Kodak gradually winnowed its range of Super 8 film stocks over the past few years, forcing fans of the format to work out tricks such as slicing and perforating Fuji Velvia 50 still film to fit — so this advance really is exciting for those users.

But more than that this is exciting because it is already past the prototype and into the development phase (actually has been for over a year and a half now). Given enough positive response, this project coming to fruition might reinvigorate long-standing efforts for creating 35mm digital film cartridges.

Obviously this is just speculation, but the idea of breathing new life into mechanically pristine SLRs from the past gets our adrenaline pumping. For now, we’ll have to settle with Super 8, but a photo nerd can dream can’t he?

(via NoFilmSchool via The Phoblographer)

  • te

    cute! but film would be better!

  • harumph

    I have five or six really nice 8mm cameras lying around, and I honestly don’t see the point of this.

  • David Liang

    Niiice, this project screams Kickstarter campaign!

  • TheGloriousEnd

    The mechanics honestly work a lot better for something like this than they do for an slr….I’m certainly interested!

  • Paul

    Reminds me of the eFilm project from 1999 that aimed to do the same with film SLRs.

  • gtfo

    so would just shutting your mouth and moving on, but we cant all have what we want can we

  • your comment is pointless

    it has more of a point than your pointless post. none of us care how many cameras you own, only you do.

  • jrconner

    I admire the effort, but I can’t think of one good reason to adapt an old camera when new cameras with better lenses are available at a very reasonable cost.

  • Zos Xavius

    A black magic pocket camera with speedbooster would be infinitely better than this with much better quality.

  • Zos Xavius

    Did you even bother to fact check here? This project is vaporware. All they have is some computer render and nothing else. They mention a video of it in action that is nowhere on their site. If you read the comments you will see that this is a dead project. Also as a few commenters have pointed out, this project is virtually impossible due to the technical impossibilities of syncing the physical shutter with the sensor.

  • Marcelo Teson

    And 1000 dollars more money. I bought my Minolta Super 8 camera for 150 on eBay. It has a fabulous little lens on it. I’ve shot film on it and it looks gorgeous. I do it with middle and elementary school students, and shooting without an LCD, without being able to review the footage immediately after doing it is a really fun challenge for them.

    If anything this would at least be a good way to test Super 8 cameras to make sure they’re working ok before you put an expensive film cartridge through it. When you buy a new camera it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

  • Scotty

    A less stupid idea would be to make a new video camera that looked like an old super 8 camera, and had a few built in ‘film effect’ presets, and supported manual focus lenses. Then you could have a camera that could shoot grainy flickery footage, as well as something useful like say 1080p and oh, i don’t know, AUDIO which sometimes comes in handy.

  • Gtfo

    Yup we can, you conformists can suck it up deeply but If someone wants my money better create a slr film sensor and the’ll have my money. Digital and it’s benefit only exist because there was a demand from the market.

  • Mark French

    So does it automatically fade half of the color out of the data after 40
    years so everybody looks like they have jaundice and are wearing orange

  • just a thought

    Like the Digital Bolex? Supposedly due to start shipping next month. Check it out, it could be really interesting.

  • Qubits Toy Co.

    If we film our family with this while smoking e-cigarettes, will be just like our parents, or grandparents?

  • Fullstop

    Linky or stinky?

  • Zos Xavius

    Read the comments on the site they link! More than one person calls it a dead project that has not been updated in some time.

  • davidwer

    Oh my baby jesus this is absof***ingly genious make this for film and take all my money!!!!!! wow my mind is blown

  • RHytonen

    What we NEED is something inexpensive to digitize the films we have.

  • Daniel

    Great idea! But only 720p? Why not 1080 or more? Omnivision makes sensor of the same size with resolutions all the way up to 4k.

    Still, I would probably buy this.

  • ed

    @gtfo prick

  • ed

    Great for testing super 8 cameras before actually shooting real film. Get this going – happy to support on kickstarter

  • Toronto Product Photographer

    So many options to film video now that this new technology will cause barely a wave. Yawwwn .

  • Nathaniel Jefferson Korb

    What’s the point? So you can look nostalgic, then quickly upload it to your mac? Actual film is much better quality, but if you want to shoot in digital, just use a digital camera, there are many more features. And film isn’t going anywhere, Kodak still stocks it.

  • ipawnshop

    After Super 8mm will come the 16mm adapter , I hope

  • Dean Orewiler

    I think it’s a great idea – but it sounds like they need investors to get the ball rolling to mass manufacturer…it’s definitely a niche item – but it sure would be fun to use my Beaulieu 4008-ZMII again !

  • Dave E.

    Haters are a bucket of fartbags. This is way cool. I’d snap this up in a heartbeat.
    Stop obsessing over every last technical reason, and just enjoy this thing.