James Miller sent us his “quick guide on how to get 8mm footage direct to sensor on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II” which is pretty cool if you’ve got a bunch of old 8mm films (maybe old family movies) that you’d like to convert to digital without paying an arm and a leg. Transfer of old movies was always a mysterious idea… maybe it isn’t so any more. Thanks to James! (James, can I send you all my old slides this week? Got a solution for those? HA)


Redrock Micro


The method

The Projector – 8mm Direct to 5Dmk2 from James Miller on Vimeo.

This is my method for transferring 8mm footage using the Canon 5Dmk2 in real time. The results are very good for such a fast method if you cannot afford the money or time for frame scanning.

00:42 – It very important to use a flat type LED’s not the dome shaped ones. The dome shape LED’s will give you lots of blooming and the focus will drift at the edges making you suspect the lens.

00:58 – I drilled 3 holes in the body of the projector for the LED flexible light strip, behind where the original bulb used to sit. I mask out light I don’t want projected with putty. The position of the lights helps mask out some of the scratches. I need to add another couple of (horizontal) lights either side of the centre light.

01:29 – I modified the original projector lens to try and achieve a flat field image. Made from the rear element from a Carl Zeiss Flektogon 35mm and attached to the original lens tube with a bit a tape no less. You could use standard lens and there are some very nice ones out there.

03:08 – Utilising the body from the old 35mm lens, it proved a good way in shielding the projector from light pollution, I also added a 12mm extension tube. A lens cloth draped over the front further seals the light from entering, of course you could just film in very low light.

00:12 – I put 2 drive belts on the motor, this slowed the motor down just enough to reduce the shutter flicker. The Canon 5Dmk2 was set to 24p and 1/50 for our electrical phase.

ISO ranged from base up to 1000, depending on exposure of original film. The footage is fine at ISO 1000 but this could be reduced by using a more powerful flat lens LED.

03:30 – Focus and frame size changed by moving the projector or camera and adjusting the screw type lens. Try and focus on the film grain and not the scratches.

00:37 – I removed the internal mask for 8mm & S8mm aspects at the gate to project an unrestricted image into the camera. You gain areas that are hidden but they have the perfs though them and you see the top and bottom of the next and previous frame, but you can re-mask in post. If it’s personal footage you want to see everything on the frame, some times it makes the difference.

You can use the crop sensor DSLR’s but the lens would need changing or modifying unless you wanted a cropped image. On this lens and projector I can not bring the camera near enough without fouling on the body of the camera or projector body to get a full image captured.

I have tried to make this project as accessible as possible and apart from the camera, all the items are fairly cheap to pick up.

Projector used: Eumig Mark 501, I also use the Eumig 610D & the Eumig Mark DL
Camera: Canon 5Dmk2

Ref LED: maplin.co.uk/​dc-12-v-flexible-led-light-strip-400mm-47376

Here are links to a couple of films transferred using this exact setup:
vimeo.com/​20900718
vimeo.com/​20871186

I have other 8mm transfers back from when I started this 2 years ago, but the quality was not as good. They are further down my videos.




The results

James shared a couple of movies he’s transferred using that methodology:

Three from James Miller on Vimeo.

Sisters from James Miller on Vimeo.

Standard 8mm – Direct transfer to Canon 5DMK2 sensor.
Modified projector and lens.

Film dated Circa 1969.

Gate mask removed for full film coverage. Can be masked back in post if necessary.

2 years perfecting a realtime transfer.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses