Slides, Super 8, and old cameras, oh my!

Recently I saw some old cine film footage from the 1930s that had been transferred to DVD. We were staying with a friend down in Poole, and her mother was having to sell the house that her grandfather had built… they had a lot of old cine film showing life before the war, and I was absolutely fascinated. No sound, but remarkably good picture quality.

It got me thinking that my mother had some reels of film somewhere, since I remember my parents setting up a projection screen in the living room from time to time when I was small. Yesterday I had a dig around in her loft. I was quite keen to see what was there: I don’t have many photos of my father, and certainly no film of him or record of his voice; Ola never had the chance to meet him, so I’d like to find out what we do have.

It turned out to be an interesting experience. I found the old Kodak Ektasound 130 video camera, which still has a Super 8 cartridge in it. There is also an old spool-to-spool projector, which (like the camera) probably hadn’t been touched for 20 years. As soon as I switched the projector on, the bulb blew. I could only find two 15m spools of film, and I have a feeling that at that length it will not add up to much footage… but still, I’m intrigued to know what is on them. Probably snippets of my brother and I when we were small – I’m sure all totally embarrassing, but I’m prepared to take the risk!

Talking to the local camera shop, they will do a DVD transfer for me, but it has to go via VHS tape first. I think I’ll take the spools down next weekend and see what they have to say.

Another thing that we turned up (apart from the old photo albums) was about 20 boxes of slides dating from 1959 to somewhere in the 70s, when I reckon the film camera took over. We don’t have a slide projector so it isn’t easy to tell what they are all of, although at least one box appears to show stills of the TV during the moon landings in the late 60s. The camera shop will apparently be able to digitise these for me at a cost of 85p per slide, but that is going to seriously add up. I suppose it might even get to the point where a slide scanner is a reasonable purchase, although I suspect that I’d only use it on this one set of slides. I’ll have to ask around and see if anyone at work has one that I can borrow.

Apart from all that, there was a bunch of old photographic equipment including an Ilford Advocate camera that felt like a lead weight; some analogue exposure meters; and two twin-lens slide cameras, one still boxed. Time to check out the second-hand market to see what these might be worth.

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