Super 8 film and 8 mm film: how to recognize which one it is

Super 8 and 8 mm films have been used as home movies for decades. They are not the only films that existed, but 99% of the time they were used by amateur filmmakers (the others are 16 and 9.5 mm).

It hardly needs to be said that both super 8 and 8 mm films are 8 mm wide.

When the super 8 film was invented in 1965, it was differentiated from 8 mm by having  smaller holes (the holes were used by the gears of the projectors to move the film). Consequently, the frame area became larger, increasing the definition of the final image.

The central hole

Furthermore, the central hole of super 8 film reels is 13 mm in diameter, while in the 8 mm reel it is 8 mm.

Both formats include, in some cases, the soundtrack. This is visible as a gold-colored stripe attached to one or both edges.

Video examples of super 8 and 8 mm film

If you want to appreciate the quality difference between the two formats, below are two examples of films recorded in super 8 and 8 mm.

They both belong to my private collection, which you can enjoy on my Youtube channel.

film 8 mm soon online

The first was recorded on 8 mm film, a format which was used from 1932 to the end of the 1960s. The second in super 8.

Both were scanned with the same equipment, the scanner FilmFabriek HDS+. The video below is superior in quality. This is not only due to the fact that being newer implies that it has deteriorated less over time, but precisely to the better performances of the film format.

The decay

If  you have recorded your memories on tape (like I did starting from the 1990s), you will probably have some very bad videos in your hands today. VHS and video8 replaced super 8 films during the 1980s.

The reason why people moved on from an excellent quality format (super 8) to poor formats (VHS and video8) is that the latter were much easier to play because they did not require the use of:

  • noisy projectors
  • projection screens

Instead, to watch footage caught on tape, you just needed to connect the camera to the television (video8) or insert the tape into the video recorder (VHS).

Decades later, however, if someone today digitizes their films with a professional system, they can get something very close to high definition while those who came later, given that the super 8 film had gone completely out of use already in the early 90s and recorded their memories on tapes, unfortunately find that their videos have almost disappeared today.

Beware of one thing: having a super 8 or 8 mm film in which your memories are recorded is a great fortune. Don’t give them to an unprofessional lab!

I'll show why in this video:

It’s easy to see the huge quality gap between the left and the right frame. In the latter, just to mention a few things, the image is:

  • blurry
  • shaky
  • jerky
  • with unnatural colours
  • cropped
  • deformed

I go deeper into the discussion on another page of my site.

Here I will just say that this happens because there are different systems for digitizing super 8 and 8 mm films. Among those who offer the telecine service, there are labs like mine who invest their money and time to keep up with technology. And there are labs who are not interested in the memories of the people who trust them giving their films.

The problem is that the latter will always be ready to say:

it looks bad, because the film is too old.

The reality, fortunately, is usually a different one.

Daniele Carrer


The price to digitize and restore your 8 mm, super 8 and 16 mm films in my laboratory is always 4 euros per minute of footage, regardless of the format or the fact that they are mute or sound.

If you want me to work on your home movies, please contact me with this form: