If you have looked at your film stored at home, filled with precious home movie memories, and wondered, “What type of film do I have?”—you are not alone. There are actually three common consumer film formats: 8mm (also known as Regular 8), Super 8, and 16mm. Depending on when your film was created, you might have any of the three.
Luckily, we can convert all three formats to digital files, DVD or Blu-ray at Current Pixel, and our team will know which format you have when you bring it in for conversion. Still, here’s some more information about the three types so you can identify which you might have.
8mm (Regular 8)
Regular 8 first became popular for consumers to use in the year 1932, when the Eastman Kodak Company released it onto the market. Regular 8 film is made from 16mm stock but was cheaper for consumers to purchase for their home movies than the 16mm format. To create the 8mm film, only half of the 16mm would be exposed during filming and turned around once the end of the film was reached.
During processing, the film would be split down the middle, ending up with the two strips of 8mm film rather than 16mm. By splicing the ends of the two 25-foot 8mm strips together, a 50-foot 8mm reel of film was created, which is why your regular 8 film is 50 feet long rather than 25 feet.
Super 8 first became popular in the mid-1960s. Both Regular 8 and Super 8 are 8mm wide from one edge to the other, but Super 8 film has a 50 percent larger frame size than Regular 8 and allows for cartridge loading.
Also, Super 8 can have sound, while 8mm generally did not allow for sound. Super 8 displays smaller sprocket holes along the edge to allow for its larger frame, which might help you identify the type of film you have at home. You can tell if your Super 8 film has sound if you see either a brown magnetic strip or a squiggly line running along the edge of the film.
16mm first became popular for consumer use in 1923 when Eastman Kodak introduced it as a less expensive option to 35mm film. 16mm film is 16mm wide, rather than 8mm, and may or may not contain sound. Sprockets along both sides of the film indicates silent 16mm film, while only one set of sprockets on one side of the film suggests the 16mm film might have sound. You can tell if your 16mm film has sound if you see either a brown magnetic strip or a squiggly line running along the edge of the film.
16mm film generally runs faster than Regular or Super 8mm film, and allows for more detail and a sharper focus on the subject instead of the background because of the larger frame size. While consumers used to use 16mm film for home movies, 8mm film was more cost effective and took over as the more common home movie format after it was introduced in the 1930s. 16mm is now more commonly used as a semi-professional film format.
Lifespan of Film
Film’s lifespan depends on any number of factors, including where and how the film is stored and for how long, as well as the emulsion manufacturer and production process. High temperatures and humidity levels can also affect film’s storage life.
Should I convert my film to digital?
We definitely encourage the conversion of film to digital or DVD as a way to preserve the priceless memories on your home movies. Although the lifespan of various films differ, all film will continue to deteriorate regardless of how it has been stored.
If you think your film might be too old, though, do not hesitate to email us pictures of the film, or bring it to us to discuss! Even film that appears to be too old, brittle, or damaged may still be eligible for digitization. We are here to help you keep your memories safe, so you can share them with friends and family, and easily enjoy them for decades to come!