Got a new Reflecta scanner and by the second film I scan, I'm back with the same problem.
No problem with the first one: fast and smooth, all its frames were perfectly scanned.
Then with the second film, except for the first few frames, everything seemed to be going OK. Halfway through it, however, the software crashed. I tried to continue the proccess starting in the frame it had stopped but, for some reason, the software started replacing (erasing), old frames instead of creating new files. So I had to start from the beginning.
And the sideways jitter appeared. I restarted the process once more and a bad splice at the start tail of the film which had been getting worse (never worryingly so), finally started to give serious problems. The film was stuck, I lifted it, got it out of the sprocket wheel, pushed it forward a little bit and put it back through the sprocket wheel.
Still, for unknown reasons, the film had difficulties to run properly, and the engines behind the sprocket wheel started to sound very badly: that familiar dry, loud noise: trrrrrr-toc!. I stopped everything and tried starting in a further point of the same film. It worked, but by now the movement of the sprocket wheel when scanning has got clumsy, short and abrupt, as if the engine was broken. Just as it happened to me with the first scanner, before getting it replaced. Funny thing is: the wheel moves without problem when running fast forward of fast backward, it goes smoothly and without strange noises. The problem appears when scanning.
I'm embarrased of myself and don't feel like returning it: it's already a replacement. I wonder if it is that easy to break the scanner: with a faulty film running through it. When one is working with old super 8 films, many of them are usually in bad shape.
Blackout, you've seen the inside of the scanner and have studied it. Do you have any idea why this is happening?
I wonder if I should open the back of the scanner and try to fix it myself or if I should send it back (again).
Help is appreciated.
ADDED LATER: I'm trying to use it with different films. It seems that the first one or two frames run OK, then, it alternates good sounds and bad sounds (abrupt, violent), when it sounds good, passes from one frame to the next, when it sounds bad, it seems to be stuck. And something seems to be tightening, because the bad sound gets more and more frequent in a matter of seconds. And then, it comes to a point when there's no good sound, only short, abrupt sounds and the wheel seems stuck. And then that awful noise: trrrrr...
I wonder if the problem, whatever it is, gets temporarily fixed because I run the fast backward between films...
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Last edited by PMBen; 9th Feb 2015 at 16:56.
PMBen, this really is frustrating im sure.
my Reflecta also makes this familiar dry, loud noise: trrrrrr-toc!. its when the film is jammed from a splice.
I think you need to look at the film now man. how about you buy on ebay some clean Super8 film, like an old Disney cartoon or something, and run it through.
Or run the first film again that was fine, and see if it is still fine.
I always run my films through my hands holding a soft cloth first, feeling for the joins, and do a new, fresh rejoin with new glue on a splice block.
I wonder if the machine is so delicate that it is that easy to break it, after one and a half reels scanned.
wish you luck on your project. From my own experience it will be a real bear!
Am looking to doing the same thing again (built a telecine 40 years ago for 8mm)
If you would like to recover some of your money from the reflecta unit I would be interested.
It might be a help to me.
Some thoughts on my technical problems in case they can be useful for other Reflecta users and also in case somebody could give me advice.
The first film I scanned with my new machine gave no problems at all: I hadn't modified the scanner yet. It was with the second film when the technical problems started; when, after noticing some sideways jitter, I removed the lower plastic cap and bypassed the lower sprocket wheel. The sideways jitter was diminished, but the scanner never worked properly again.
I'm not certain, but what I think might have happened is that running the film through only one sprocket wheel can place too much pressure on and damage it somehow. The reason I think this is because the lower sprocket wheel didn't give any problems: whenever the nasty sound appears, it obviously comes from the upper sprocket wheel (you can see it vibrating).
Anyway, I wonder such a expensive machine is so delicate to stop functioning with so little done to it, and I also consider that Blackout has been bypassing the lower wheel for a while with no problems whatsoever.
I don't know if I should send it back again or open it and try to fix it myself... :S
Before I bought a Reflecta S8, I read this thread and rather than being put off by all the negative comments, I was inspired by Blackout's mods to have a go myself.
When I examined the machine I had to agree that there are many manufacturing problems around the film path, but mine did not have all the faults mentioned. For example there were no sharp edges on the spring plate which holds the film against the gate, nor any projecting sprues on the rollers. Mine did have an extra source of scratches though, which I'll describe later!
I have a 15m reel of white leader which is completely unscratched, so I ran a metre or so of this through the scanner and then stopped. I marked the position of the rollers, sprocket wheels and curved guides with felt tip pen on the film to find out which part was causing which scratch.
I could see many scratches on the leader starting at the top curved guide so contemplated following Blackout's felt mods, but decided instead to replace the curved guides with free-running pulley wheels.
I completely removed the top and bottom plastic mouldings and used nylon washers and spacers on the original M3 bolts to re-mount the tiny diabolo-shaped roller guides, making sure they rotated freely. I haven't reinstated the film detecting microswitch yet, so have to stop a scan at the end of a film myself.
The new pulleys were made by a friend who has great skill with precise engineering and has restored several 16mm film cameras. The pulleys hold the film against the guide channel through the gate without having anything stationary in contact with the emulsion. Like the plasic rollers, they are shaped so they only touch the film very near the edges.
I had a surprise when I removed the top guide. There was a piece of stiff transparent plastic glued to the underside, presumably to ensure that the film didn't miss the gate when auto-threading. Unfortunately it was at a slight angle, so a sharp 90 degree corner was pushed against the emulsion! I had only run a few test films, but there was already an accumulation of debris on and around this extra scratcher.
As with Blackout's mods, the (partial) auto-threading of the original scanner is no longer possible, but it is very easy to thread and IMHO this is how the film path should have been designed in the first place.
All film motion including reverse and fast reverse work normally, as I have not bypassed the bottom sprocket wheel. I think that the modified version of the Reflecta is actually much kinder to films than a normal projector with a claw! The only things in contact with the emulsion side of the film now are the top sprocket wheel, the new pulleys, the spring guide around the gate, and one roller. They only touch the film edges, and the pulleys and roller rotate with the film anyway.
I found I had to loosen the takeup reel tension as mine was far too strong and sometimes pulled the film off the lower sprockets. All it has to do is make sure the film is coiled neatly on the reel.
The flimsy film spool arms are embarrassing, but don't worry me - they don't have much to do. Mine came with a very cheap and nasty takeup reel which had an over-size hub socket causing ridiculous wobble.
The whole thing is let down by very poor manufacturing and/or quality control in many (but not all) areas. The drive cog train inside looks competent and the electronics is OK. Oddly, there seems to be an unused SD card slot on the main board, above a blanking plate underneath the base.
I've not had any problems with the hardware or software apart from the scratching fault before my mods. I never had any crashes, file saving problems, weave or sideways jitter for example. I'm using a simple, cheap but recently built PC and not running any other software whilst scanning. I may once have seen the reported brightness variation between different scan sessions, but not since I've done a 'Calibrate' each time the scanner is switched on, which I do even if I'm only adding more footage to a previous project.
Like Blackout I ignore the Reflecta software AVI generation and use Virtualdub to build a much lower compression AVI from the jpegs. I have settled on +8 "Brightness" (which actually seems to adjust gain!). The resulting jpegs are 'flat', i.e. low contrast (and low saturation) with no excursions to complete black or peak white. This means that nothing is lost by black crushing or white clipping and the contrast, black level and saturation can easily be optimised afterwards, for example in a non-linear editor. Post-processing is vital to get a good result but as MovieStuff said, that is to be expected.
For those like me who have got pretty good results from a very well set-up projector and camera but are thinking of buying a scanner; the differences I have found using the Reflecta S8 include:
The scan is much less saturated -but easy to correct.
The scan has far more detail in the blacks because it is also black-lifted a lot -but easy to correct.
The scan is quite a bit sharper and keeps its focus throughout
(I was never completely sure I had optimum focus with a projector, despite adding a disk inside the lens to stop it down.
I often rewound the film a bit and tweaked the lens in the middle of a recording.)
The scan needs black, grey and white balance to get the same realistic colours as the camera -but easy to do, and it holds throughout the film.
The scan has rectangular framing rather than vignetting, even illumination without a hot spot, and isn't skewed by projector/camera angles
The scan framing doesn't jump
The scan has no flicker
The scan runs at a constant speed
(And any speed you want, when the jpegs are made into an avi in VDub!)
And the huge practical advantages of being small, self contained, working in a lit room and working unattended
I wish there were more tweaks in the software, for example compression level, proper gain and black level adjustment, but the results are better than anything I have achieved with a projector and professional full-HD camera and of course far more convenient. Scan speed is an issue - I'm half way through a ~20 hour scan of a ~400 ft reel at 2.56 seconds per frame - but it isn't as if you have to sit there watching it!
Thanks to Blackout for convincing me to buy a Reflecta S8 by exposing its many faults and ways to overcome them.
I was wondering if anybody is using a mac with your Reflecta Super8 Film Scanner? If so what version of mac are you using and what program/version are you using for scanning?
I haven't had the strange noises or mechanical problems some people have reported, but I thought it might help if I sketched how the gears inside drive the sprocket wheels and reels.
The mechanism seems pretty well designed to me, but this isn't my field!
I have observed that the 'flip-flop' cog wheel which moves to select forward drive to the takeup reel or reverse drive to the supply reel often slips a tooth or two before it engages. It hasn't caused any problems on mine so far though.
The coil springs which push the cross-pieces agaist the cog wheel teeth have protruding ends which come close to the stepper motor body as they rotate. If they were not cut short enough on some scanners, they might catch and stall the sprocket wheels.
I finally opened the back of the Reflecta and got to know what happens to it. For some unknown reason, the movable cog wheel falls down after some frames, tries to move but it doesn't reach the dents of the other gears. Instead, it gets stuck in the metal skeleton of the machine, making that awful noise... now I have to see how can I fix that.
Isn't it funny that this hasn't happened to anyone here except for me IN TWO DIFFERENT MACHINES?
UPDATE: I'll explain it better: the metal arm that carries the cog wheel from left to right and viceversa is so wobbly that tends to go outwards, it is not stable at all. That tendency towards one side eventually causes its gear to missallign after scanning a few frames: then, not being held by the other gears, the arm falls.
Last edited by PMBen; 19th Mar 2015 at 18:55.
My pulley wheel mod has been a great replacement for the friction guides originally fitted, but I found two problems with one particular film.
The first problem was that this reel had many poor tape splices near the end. A projector showed a small jump at each one, but the scanned image jumped badly before and after each splice.
It seemed that because tape splices allow the film to 'hinge' around the joint, as they went over my pulleys they shortened the path through the gate and confused the sprocket hole detector. I thought I'd have to add a 3rd pulley wheel with a spring or weight to make a constant tension through the gate.
The other problem was very odd. The scanned image seemed to ripple or rotate around a vertical axis as if the camera had been moved in an unnatural way. It was only noticeable at normal play speed and I had subconsciously put it down to wobbly camera work until I found that a projector didn't show it and the camera had probably been on a tripod!
When scanning I had noticed the film seemed to move away from the channel above the gate once or twice. I have now found out that the sprung pressure plate attached to the LED housing doesn't actually push the film into place against the gate, as the sides of its channel are outside the width of the film. It leaves a gap which allows the film to move along the optical axis!
This means that if the film is distorted (which this one was), it can twist around a vertical axis in the gate, giving the weird ripple effect.
A friend suggested that the plastic scraper I had found was a manufacturer mod to hold the film flat! It could be, but why didn't they do it like a projector, with a sprung shoe opposite the gate only touching the edges of the film? I had assumed that was what the scanner's pressure plate was for, but the ridges are so far apart that it doesn't seem to have much function. Perhaps the wrong measurement was used when it was designed or manufactured?
I borrowed a proper pressure plate from a projector and modified it to fit the Reflecta.
It has smooth thin ridges which only touch the film at the edges and is narrow enough to fit inside the channel in the Reflecta guide plate. A test scan with this in place showed no ripple at all. Surprisingly, it also stopped the jumps at each bad splice! It seems that a little friction is necessary, but by using pulleys and a properly designed plate, the emulsion side of the film is touched only once by a stationary object, and then only at the sides.
The other side of the film has one static contact where it runs against the long guide plate; but mine is smooth, I clean it before each scan and it hasn't caused any scratching so far.
New to the forums... Just got my reflecta Super 8 scanner yesterday. Everything works except the takeup reel does not (ever) advance when it is supposed to.
What to do? Return it? I normally would take stuff like this apart but there is a warranty seal over one of the screws that takes off the back.
Sent it back to B&H and they sent me another one. All is fine now.
Hi everyone, I have read through this thread and am about ready to buy a Reflecta. Thanks to everyone for the excellent information. Other than the obvious hardware flaws, I am still a bit concerned about picture quality. Does anyone have a link to sample footage other than the one Blackout posted? I'd really like to see a few more samples before committing.
Welcome to the thread and your contributions and pics are fantastic! impressive man!
a few things on what youve said/done:
1:/ i love your new silver roller guides. It was my first thoughts as well. But i didnt do this for one simple reason....Resale. I wanted to be able to put the Reflecta back together as originally purchased once i was finished. For this reason i went about doing my mods that could be reversed. And this is why i went the felt route. So the felt could be removed, and the plastic guide housing could be replaced, and it would look the same as the original. But really if you are not worried about this, your silver roller guides are exactly how the unit should really have been designed in the first place! (except for your film sensing switch which you have disconneted now and need to address) well done.
2:/ scratcher: this is obviously a mod by the company to try and push the film flat and keep it stable as it feeds into the scanning area. Mine has this "scratcher" too. Its a very poor attempt to fix the problem eh. And a further place to induce scratching indeed. what is worse, when the film is put in reverse to spool out, this "scratcher" jams backwards and hard up against the film and the entrance area and really DIGS IN to the surface of your precious film! it is a bad idea all-round. I have removed mine. The reason why they have needed to put this on, is because of the DESIGN FLAW OF INCLUDING THE SECOND SPROCKET.
3:/ your film movement problem and splice problem. Yes. This is a problem. But this problem is FIXED IF YOU BYPASS THE SECOND SPROCKET. This is why i have made this an important feature of my mod. Because when you bypass the second sprocket, the pulling pressure of the takeup reel extends all the way through along the film to include the area that is being scanned...so the scanned area is pulled tight also and the film lies flat when scanned. So you dont need the whole film guide mod that you have developed (but it does look great). But the whole problem you are experiencing is because the film is being "squashed" between the two sprocket gears when there is a splice and the film is a slightly longer length for that section, or when the film has been stretched slightly. The slight movement you are seeing in the frames, is just a mild version of the sideways jitter. Its the same thing just less pronounced. The film has no-where to move when it is too long for a section, because it is being "pinched" by the two sprockets. When the bottom sprocket is bypassed, then the film can always lay flat and be evenly tensioned across the scanning area. i hope this explanation makes sense now? i might need to draw a diagram to finally explain this visually. Fortunately, the software is great. And when the frame is slightly lower or slightly higher in the scanning area due to this movement, its not a big deal because it just re-centers the frame and trims, for every frame. it overscans into the next frame so there is plenty of room for movement error.
Once youre in Virtualdub, running the "Stabilize" plugin does help even further to make the frame image rock solid. Because the original camera that you used to shoot the film had small gears and probably there was some "float" of the film as each frame was being originally shot and exposed in the camera! so even in an ideal world with zero movement in the scan, it is still worth running through the Stabilize plugin and just tightening it up further.
4:/ indeed the supplied takeup reel is a joke. It is too loose when attached and then just wobbles around. First thing to do is take it and throw it in the bin. Or hang onto it and put it in the box for when it comes time to resell hehe.
5:/ you should do my bottom takeup reel guide mod adjustment. then the film doesnt "squeak" and rub against the takeup reel sides as it progresses. you just pull the guide in and out to suit.
5:/ i know your friend made you the silver pulley wheels but can you give us his contact details? will he make some for others like us struggling Reflecta users? please ask him. it would be much appreciated.
Last edited by Blackout; 9th Mar 2015 at 21:18.
Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but I have a bug warning!
My scanner stopped working a few days ago.
It turns out that there is a bug in the 1.0.12 firmware which can cause it to hang.
A hang may mean that you can't update it via USB and have to use the SD card slot in the base. It seems that's what it's for!
If you are already in that situation, I suggest you ask for help from Reflecta or one of their distributors.
It might be best for anyone with a working scanner using firmware 1.0.12 to upgrade to 1.0.13 whilst they still can!
The Reflecta website firmware download area is at https://reflecta.de/en/downloads/firmware/~nm.50~nc.65/firmware.html
At the bottom of the page is " Firmware Super 8 v.1.0.13 "
The page says "Before installing new firmware, please make sure that you have already installed latest Software Cyberview."
The latest software still seems to be version 184.108.40.206 which is available on the Reflecta Driver & Software page as " Scansoftware CyberView S8 220.127.116.11 "
Navigate to Reflecta yourself if you have any doubts.
I don't know whether the "Update" button in the Cyberview software will load this firmware, but it would be worth trying first.
Of course I'm not accepting any responsibility for any new problems caused by updating your firmware!
Thanks, pathegler. I ordered my scanner from Adorama and it should be here early next week.[/QUOTE]
You're welcome. Pat
I reinstated the end-of-film microswitch. There is a very deep trough in the sprocket wheels, so there's plenty of travel downwards with no film, and enough clearance upwards not to make threading difficult.
It has a very light spring, the nylon arm has a smooth end and it only touches the shiny side of the film. I haven't seen any scratching from it.
I did something similar to your final pulley mod, but I've also moved it up as far as possible so that the loop of film at the bottom (which isn't as taught as yours!) never touches the plastic. The pulley slides easily left and right, so the film centres itself in the takeup reel.
(The cover still fits normally after all the mods BTW.)
I had already jokingly asked the guy who made the pulleys if he'd be prepared to make some more for sale! He points out that he only does such things in his spare time but if it is just one or two sets then he might be persuaded. Here's his design drawing showing the tiny ball bearings:
Last edited by Neutron; 13th Mar 2015 at 17:44. Reason: Two attached pics didn't show inline
The thing about this kind of scanner is that every frame is a still scan, so one example frame can say a lot. The quality of the image depends on many things apart from the scanner though: the camera, the skill of the operator, the film stock and how well it has been preserved. This is from a film shot on Kodachrome in the UK in November 1981 which I recently scanned and colour graded. I got permission from the copyright holder to use this image.
I think that the detail (visible grain) and pleasant colour balance shows how good this scanner can be - when the original film is good!
[QUOTE=newpball;2379801]VDub and re-compressed at least once for uploading! I wasn't intending it as a compression artefact demo so if I can find the same fame in the original set of jpegs straight from the scanner, I'll post that as a fairer example.
Last edited by Neutron; 13th Mar 2015 at 18:21. Reason: Added image
hi Neutron. I don't trust that piece of plastic from the tip of the solenoid scrubbing along in the middle of my picture frame is not going to scratch.
im thinking of modifying my sensor to be a LED with sensor. so it never touches the surface of the film. That is really what it should have been in the first place. However I do recommend you take the pad of a cassette tape and put it on the end of that plastic lug like I have....
I've looked very carefully for scratches from the switch arm and haven't seen any yet. In its original position it was touching the emulsion, which I have at least managed to avoid!
Hi Blackout, I finally had to take the bottom sprocket out of the picture. My film finally started moving/jumping sideways during the middle of a scan. Working fine again. Thanks for having this information up here.
re: bottom pulley that can slide...if it wasn't for the completely shoddy arms that can be wobbled at least an inch in or out, then we probably wouldn't need to adjust the bottom pulley. But the "droop" from the arms gets bigger the more film is spooled on, so they lean more and more out as you go. Just horrible manufacturing and design.
Neutron ive tried looking at how to brace the spool arms better, or tighten up the mechanism inside the Reflecta to make the arms stable, I haven't really seen anything obvious that I could just "tighten". it seems press-sealed with some washer clasps. You engineering skills seem quite advanced also do you perhaps want to take a look at this issue and make some suggestions? it certainly needs addressing..