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Super8 Motion Picture Projector Light Upgrade Guide

by Shot97 Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:16 am


Super8 Motion Picture Projector Light Upgrade – Guide

Link To My In-Depth Video Guide
Link To My Newest Super8 Film
The Exact Upgrade Kit I bought

-An Introduction-

I love the Super8 film format. Motion pictures are the act of moving many still pictures fast enough that your mind is tricked into believing you’re seeing movement. Given that it’s an illusion you can easily say what you’re seeing is magic. I love the look of the film and I believe it is a wonderful but sadly overlooked artistic device.

Before VHS camcorders became popular in the mid to late 1980’s, Super8 film was the world’s primary way to record movement. VHS took over the market rather quickly but Super8 never died. It has seen resurgence in the last 10 years. It’s used in many “flashback” scenes in movies to give a retro feeling, I find it in many new music videos on YouTube, amateur projects are choosing it over digital, and I see it more and more in various television commercials. I’ve used it as my primary method for recording moments to remember for over 10 years and I firmly believe it should still make up the primary market for home movies. A good Super8 film can last hundreds of years, each new HD resolution only makes the analog film look better if converting, and more than just your mother is going to want to watch this stuff. If you can frame a story in three minutes and 20 seconds keeping in mind there’s no redo’s and you’re paying for it, you’ll find yourself making consistently good recordings of things you’ll want to look back on. I implore more people to give it a try, because although it’s at its most popular since the 80’s, unfortunately the professional market is strangling the amateur market. The Super8 film you see in movies use negative film, which can’t be projected, fit only to be put straight to digital. The costs of this become outrageous quite quickly. Amateur consumers have always used reversal film which can be projected, a very affordable option… And since we’re using film, an analog format, to be unable to project I feel quite defeats much of the magic. We need more amateurs to be using this film so the home users are not left behind, so the true history of this great medium is not destroyed.

-The Projector-

I use a Bell & Howell projector from the mid 1970’s. This company made many Super8 projectors and cameras, and even made them for Sears which re-branded them with the Sears name. It’s always been a reliable projector with a great lens that makes the film look fantastic. It’s a heavy beast of a machine, made primarily of metal parts, but comes together quite nicely and is very portable. It uses an incandescent light at 150 watts. The bulb is a unique design made for projectors, with a nice mirror reflector that reflects light going away from the film back toward the film.

The exact specifications of the last bulb I bought are as follows: Made by Eiko, DJL 120V 150W. This “DJL” style lamp I have learned was used in a good thousand projectors, including almost all of the Bell & Howell ones. In other words, it’s a very common bulb. The last time I bought one about 8 years ago it was still being made NEW. Not “new old stock” but brand new. In fact I believe it is still being made new to this day, yet the prices have become unacceptably outrageous. When I last bought the bulb NEW it was not more than $30, possibly less. Today new bulbs are going from $100-$150. Used or old stock bulbs are going from $60-$100. I believe we’re being gouged and I don’t like it. Add onto this insulting price the fact that these bulbs have but a 12 hour rated life and you have one very pissed off photographer.

Given the terrible 12 hour life I’ve been expecting my bulb to die for a good 4 years now but it has been keeping on. Upon receiving a shipment of 3 newly developed Super8 films I went to turn the lamp on and it gave me a nice poof. What a time to go! Expecting this for some time I had already researched possibly options for an upgrade, because I simply would not have dignified these damn sellers of the original bulb.

There are a few options these days for upgrading the bulb in fact. One option uses the same end of the original bulb but just fits a halogen flood light to it, thus being a simple plug and play operation. The problem with that is they’re probably using old bulbs end and rigging the thing together themselves. You’ll have to buy this $40+ bulb every single time you need a new one.

I chose a more complicated method but one I felt would both feel like it should be there and once the initial cost was paid, any new bulbs would be a standard bulb I could buy at a much cheaper price. I found a company selling a nice frame that would allow the use of standard Halogen track light flood bulbs, bulbs that would be below $10. The kit itself cost around $45 and included an EZK 120V 150W Halogen spot/flood light. The Halogen should last a good 1,000-2,000 hours, so I should be set for awhile.

The problem with the particular kit I bought is that it came with the worst instructions I’ve ever seen. The written instructions were bad, obviously written by someone that’s done it a million times and was also concerned (as written) with the price of shipping… Because that extra piece of paper makes all the difference. Cheap bastard. But oh so much worse was the included DVD… It is in all honesty the worst instructional video I’ve ever come across in my entire life. Terrible video quality, no talking from the guy doing the operation, just text… Some of this text is on screen for a grand total of less than a second before disappearing… It goes from one step to the next too damn quickly to follow, necessitating constant rewinding and freeze framing. There is simply no way a person who has not done this before would have any clue what they expected you to do without spending hours watching a 2 minute video.

I can’t stress enough how much I disdain their instructions. They should be ashamed of themselves. The worst part is they believe their instructions are great, “besides, why over complicate a simple task…” – Because people are paying you money for this crap… Do it right so ANYBODY can do it. I’ve already given their video a kick in the nuts with my own, and now I’m here so you can burn their written instructions as well.

My exact Bell & Howell projector is a 626R Design 462A. Again though, almost all B&H projectors used the DJL bulb as well as many others. Even if you don’t have a projector, feel free to come along for the ride. There’s nothing like taking apart old crap and having a look around!

-The Guide-

The pictures should make things fairly to the point but I’ll write them down anyway…. Because the more ways you do something the more likely it is people will have an easier time.

^ Steps 1-5

1st Step: With your projectors carrying/dust cover already off, remove the light bulb cover by pulling it off.
2nd Step: Remove the old DJL bulb by pulling it out.
3rd Step: On the bottom of the projector are several screws, remove the two biggest ones parallel to each other.
4th Step: On the projectors side remove the four screws on the corners.
5th Step: Remove one screw above the light socket and one screw to the left of the light socket.

^Steps 6-11

6th Step: You can now remove the back cover of the projector. Now is a great time to check out the gears for the projector as you may need to grease them. I’ll save that for another article.
7th Step: The light socket attached to a metal plate which also has a plastic fan air guide attached. Using needle-nose pliers take off the two clips but don’t break them as you’ll need them later.
8th Step: The light socket attaches to the metal plate via two rivets. If you’d like to have more air flow going to the light bulb you’ll want to remove the socket by drilling the two rivets. Pull out the two wires going to the light socket regardless of if you want the air flow or not.
9th Step: Take your new halogen flood light out of the frame it came in.
10th Step: Mark a hole to drill in between the screw to the left of the light socket hole and the light socket hole. The kit comes with a 1/8th rubber grommet to fit the two wires from the frame to the other side of the case. I could not find a 1/8 drill bit however so I actually ended up drilling a hole for each wire. So mark two holes if you’re doing the same.
11th Step: Fit the frame flush with the projectors shutter and mark the two screw holes to the left and right of the frame for drilling.

^Steps 12-16

12th Step: Using one of the supplied self-tapping screws screw, screw it into one of the two marked spots for the frame. You should also drill the 1/8th hole for the two wires now or the two smaller holes if you don’t have the proper bit.
13th Step: Unscrew the one self-tapping screw, fit the frame over it, and screw the screw back in. Use the other self-tapping screw on the other side of the frame.
14th Step: Push the two power chords coming from the frame into the hole/holes you drilled for them in step 12. Make sure they come out on the other side through the metal plate.
15th Step: Cut and strip the red and yellow wires you previously pulled from the light socket.
16th Step: Tie the yellow wire to one of the grey wires you pushed through in step 14 and tie the red wire to the other one. It does not matter which grey wire either goes to.

^Steps 17-21

17th Step: Cap the wires with the supplied wire caps and reattach the plastic fan air guide from step 7 to the metal plate via the clips on it.
18th Step: Screw the plate with the fan guide back in. You unscrewed it in step 5. This is a perfect time to test that your new bulb is working before you put everything back together. Place the new bulb into the frame if testing.
19th Step: Put the case back together and screw in the two screws you unscrewed from the bottom of the projector back in step 3.
20th Step: On the side of the projector screw in the 4 corner screws you unscrewed in step 4. If you did not place the new bulb into the frame for testing you should do so now.
21st Step: Put the light bulb cover you took off in step 1 back on.

That’s it everyone! I full heartedly believe both this written guideas well as my video guide are a thousand times better than the crap I had to sift through in order to understand this procedure. I hope any attempting this will feel the same. For those without a projector or need/want to replace the bulb, I hope you got a kick out of seeing the projectors internals. As I love taking things apart just for the hell of it, I’m hoping there’s a few of you out there that get a kick out of just seeing everything and witnessing the “surgery”. I’d love for anyone to check out my latest Super8 film so you can see the magic I see. It should be noted that I'm pretty sure this replacement bulb gives off slightly less brightness compared to the original bulb. Usually a halogen bulb at the same watts of an incandescent will actually be brighter, I do not believe that is the case here. I'm thinking it's because of the original bulbs built in mirror reflector bouncing off the same amount of light that hits it forward. The halogen bulb does have its own reflector, but it's not a mirror. This is what I'm thinking causes it to be less bright at the same wattage, which was a disappointment to me because I always felt the original bulb wasn't quite bright enough for my tastes. It's still perfectly usable (especially at night) but I might attempt to find the same type of bulb in 200 watts for the future.

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