Sorry if this information is found somewhere. I didn't see it answered, and Googling gives conflicting information.
I can't seem to find a consensus on this. My parents have old Super 8mm film that they want professionally transferred and restored, and I was wondering what sort of resolution to expect from them? Is it worth getting it transferred to HD? What about 2k? I'd like to get the most out of them, but don't want to waste paying for higher resolutions if there's no benefit.
Anything else I should look out for?
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Your question was kinda answered in this topic
Scroll down to reply #22 and you will glean that the effective resolution, in digital terms, of Super 8 film is close to SD. So no better than DVD.
What is more important is what the 'professional' service offers. This could range from a frame by frame scan using a dedicated projector altered for the purpose to someone simply pointing a video camera at a projection screen.
There are a lot of spurious posts in that thread DB83 linked to and you can find yourself going down a rathole. I contributed to that thread, however, and did answer your question in this post:
Super 8 Digital Equivalent Resolution
The one thing I will add to what I said back then is that I use an HD camcorder for my film transfers, but often let the camcorder downsize to SD. I have yet to find any Super 8 film where this approach loses detail and, of course, keeping everything at SD resolution sure does make the rest of the workflow move fast. I've had lots of projects involving 30-50 reels of film, and one that involved over 200 reels, including quite a few 400' reels (which combine eight of the original Super 8 50' cartridges). The time it takes to get to the end of the project becomes an extremely important factor in determining how to proceed.
As to where to get your video transferred, Costco and Walmart both use YesVideo to do their transfers. They are the cost leaders for services where you can drop off your film. If you want cheap and don't mind mailing your film, then ScanCafe is a service you should look into.
For the best possible transfer, try to find a service which uses Cintel or Spirit equipment. These are $100,000+ professional transfer systems, and the transfer may cost you a little more, but you cannot get a higher-quality transfer. If I were paying for that service, I would spend the extra money and get the HD transfer because if any system on earth could get a little more detail out of your film, these units will do so. I would then take a sample from the best-quality reel, downsize it to SD using a good resizer, and then do an A/B compare to see if any detail, grain, or sharpness is lost.
Thanks for your help.