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My Roll is Black - The Most Common Reasons

There is nothing worse than waiting in anticipation of some great images on classic Super 8 film only to find out that nothing was exposed on your film. These are the 4 most common reasons this might happen.


#1 The film did not transport through the camera

The most common thing that can happed is that the roll of film did not transport through your camera.  Even though a super 8 camera can sound like it’s running and even the footage count can count down from 50 feet to Zero, sometimes the film did not  actually run through the camera.  It’s one of those mechanical quirks of Super 8 because of the way a typical camera counts down. The sound of the film running is not actually tied to the physical film running.  There are different reasons this can happen,   but in order to prevent this from ruining  your film shoot  , you must be aware of when film is running.  Most Super 8 cameras have a function called the “Film Run Indicator.”   It is typically in the viewfinder and will blink or bob up and down when film is actually running in your camera.  Always keep an eye on this to be shore you are actually shooting film. The other import tip is to always run your rolls to the end.  When the rolls is finished you can see the words EXPOSED on the Roll or the tail end of the film will be pulled through.  Getting to the end of the roll is the only way to know for sure that the film has fully transported through the camera. 

#2 The exposure (F-Stop ) was set incorrectly

Todays color negative film has great exposure range and will expose some kind of picture under most conditions, but there are limits.  In addition, some camera systems can close down the exposure all the way to offer a fade out feature.  Make sure that your exposure system is working correctly and make sure the camera you are using does not have a “close position” that you inadvertently  have switched or dialed into .  For example, the Pro814 has a manual exposure control that can be set to (C) Closed. When this is done , even if your in auto exposure , your exposure system is closed and no images will be recorded. 

3) There was not enough light to film with the type of film you were using.

Film is sensitive to light of a certain strength. If the situation is just too dark to be filmed there will be no images on the film . The human eye can see In all kinds of light levels but film is not that capable . You must shoot where there is enough light,  remember that photography is painting with light . Not enough light no images.

4) The shutter was set in the closed position.

Most super 8 cameras do not have shutter controls so this is typically not and issue , but some do .  They can have different shutter speeds and a position for closing the shutter to do fade outs.  You can sometimes switch your cameras into the closed shutter position and no images will be recorded. For example our Classic Pro ( rebuilt Beaulieu 4008) has such a switch on the top of the body that can be set to closed.

We will always check your file digital file if you get it back and tell us it is blank. If it is not a processing issues ( which the lab will tell us) , we do not know that it is blank until we get it up on the scanner. We will still scan the entire roll, in the event that some images were recorded incase your changed your camera settings in the middle of the roll.

As the filmmaker, by following the film run indicator, setting the correct exposure and using the correct lighting, and knowing your camera, you will have the best chance of creating gorgeous Super 8 images.   

(C) Pro8mm 2022 / Updated (2024)