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Before you commence a project,
you must,


must

must

SHOOT A TEST ROLL!

Most importantly this will test your camera's light meter, the camera's film transport, if the camera is working at all, your ability to focus, your techniques, as well as giving you a sense of what you are going to get with the equipment, people and skills you have. If you are going to use any special filters or locations in your shoot, or slow or fast motion effects etc., include them in your test if you can. For the cinematographically advanced shooting a test is still an essential step to test that the camera will do what you know it can do, and also to callibrate your light meter to the camera (for instruction on using a hand held meter, click here). If you are going to shoot film, you have to know your equipment if you are going to avoid being disappointed. Some possible problems that a test roll will help you avoid: does the camera actually transport the film? does the internal light meter work? are the optics clean? is the shutter accidently set to 'shut'? have you accidently left the exposure compensation dial to 'over expose'? does the internal filter work? etc etc. We have seen many rolls wasted in these and other unnecessary ways which is disheartening for us as well as for the customer. Just because the camera worked last time it was used, it doesn't mean that it is still working now with the currently available film stocks. Remember too that just because your camera produced acceptable results with one film stock, it may not when using another of a different film speed.
If you need any help with shooting a test, please, please, please ask.

Also, we advise that you
ALWAYS USE FRESH BATTERIES!

By a bulk pack of cheap batteries and put a fresh set in every few rolls. Batteries are very cheap, film, processing, transfer, your and everyone elses time are not. Keeping the camera's batteries fresh helps ensure the camera's drive motor has enough power to transport the film smoothly through the super 8 cartridge without jitter or jamming.

Another request is that you
CLEAN THE FILM GATE!

Little bits of hair or dust in the film gate are highly visible and distracting when enlarged on the screen. So clean the gate often, at least whenever you change the film cartridge. Have a blower brush and a wooden implement like a toothpick handy for this.

You must also
CHECK THE VIEWFINDER DIOPTER SETTING!

This is the little knob, dial, slider or some such that focuses the viewfinder for your eye. This device can get bumped, slid, turned, moved of fiddled with by accident without you knowing. If focus is important (and why wouldn't it be?) don't assume that if you set the diopter once, its still set correctly. Check it often. For instructions on setting the diopter see the technical tips pages of this site.

Also, if you are undertaking a major project of some kind
HAVE A BACK UP CAMERA!

You need to have a plan for if your main camera dies. What's more, its no use if you don't know for sure that this camera works. Save a few feet of your test roll for testing the basic functions of your back up camera.

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