We first got word of a Gakken Single-8 movie camera kit in March 2008, in the form of some intriguing prototype pics (below). We also heard rumors that the company was uncertain about its release because of the limited amount of Fujifilm Single-8 movie film still available. Fuji produced a final production run of their R25N and RT200N color Single-8 films several years ago. They anticipated this inventory would be enough to meet user demand for 5 years. However, long-time Single-8 users could find themselves without Fuji-manufactured film sooner than anticipated if Gakken releases this camera.
We were understandably surprised when Francesco Fondi at HobbyMedia showed us a couple of images from the June 2008 Tokyo Toy Show that included the prototype camera on display. He followed up with Gakken, and confirmed that the company has plans to release the camera sometime next spring.
Gakken's Single-8 camera design is the essence of simplicity. The Single-8 cartridge format was Fujifilm's answer to Kodak's popular Super 8 design - both films share the same physical dimensions, although they come in differently shaped cartridges. This means that any Single-8 film can be projected using a Super 8 projector. The camera is powered by a single AA battery and accepts 15m film cartridges, which last 3 minutes when shooting at 18 frames per second. The viewfinder is a simple gun sight mechanism on the side panel and the lens aperture is set manually. There's no zoom and it doesn't record sound.
All in all, this is not an impressive cinematographic device - even by the standards of the mid 1960s. That said, it is the first newly designed 8mm camera in over two decades and I can't wait to get my hands on one!