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The Fragment 8 Retro Camera: Stylish social media filming or nostalgic nonsense?

A new Kickstarter campaign is seeking £14,827 to launch a digital camera designed to replicate the look, feel and quality of a Super 8 camera all the way down to the shutter sound. The Fragment 8 retro camera is created by Lofty Factory, a Hong Kong-based outfit. 

Rather than shooting in 8mm film like the devices that inspired it, the Fragment 8 camera records video digitally. Despite this major difference, Lofty Factory promises the camera can channel the faded colours, grainy quality and jerky motions of old school Super 8 footage.

The finished product is a two-minute 720p MP4 or looping GIF that aspires to capture the aesthetic and spirit of traditional Super 8 film.

The Fragment 8 is named as such because it is intended to capture “fragments” of life − in other words, short clips.

The camera shoots clips a maximum of two minutes long and its creators claim it’s “the world’s first camera to directly shoot GIFs”.

We’re looking into this claim but, at first glance, it seems it’s just about true. However, there are a lot of apps (like GIF camera and GIF Mill) that allow smartphone users to create GIFs directly from their smartphone cameras.

The slim, handheld device has a removable rotating plate, housing the Kaleidoscope Six, Star Filter, Radial Filter and 17mm lens mount, making it quick and easy to move between lenses when out and about.

The Fragment 8 is no doubt hoping to ride a wave of nostalgia for old-fashioned film. Even the company’s promotional material is nostalgia heavy and worded a rather strangely in places too. For instance, this line: “Vintage clips carry a romantic dull haze of memories.”

Lots of apps have appeared recently that make video shot on your phone look a little older and a little grainier, and the Fragment 8 has several alternate additional lenses which can change how your footage looks.

It also packs old-school settings, with the ability to shoot in either 9fps or 24fps, the latter being the standard for motion pictures. The few seconds of footage displayed below demonstrates the camera’s 9fps shooting function.

In terms of specs, the camera has a built-in view finder, 1/3 inch CCD sensor and can shoot in 720p. It’s focus free, with an electronic shutter, an f/2.0 aperture and packs a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack. It’s also 17mm mount-compatible. The body weighs 250g and film output is offered as JPG, MP4 or GIF.

The Fragment 8 camera was developed by Hong Kong software artist Manhin. He said, in a press release: “There’s nothing quite as uniquely beautiful as a Super 8 movie… and the short Super 8 format makes perfect sense with today’s popularity of GIF loops and TikTok videos. Inspired by natural aesthetics, your story can be shared with friends at a new level with romantic and retro effects. You don’t have to fiddle around with aperture, IOS, or white balance. All you need do is experience the gorgeous vintage feel in your own videos.” 

Those who pledge to fund the Kickstarter campaign can get their hands on one of the first batch of cameras to be produced. Right now there are three levels of financial pledge, depending on your level of interest. The most expensive package has a few extras and comes in at around £97, while the most basic is around £60. Delivery of any pledge-purchased cameras is listed as around May 2020.

Of course, there are always risks associated with ordering from Kickstarter, so make sure you do your research before contributing to any project.

Related: 5 of the biggest Kickstarter cancellations

Below you can see a rundown of the additional lens effects available on the Fragment 8, as well as spec drawings and a timeline of the camera’s journey to market. If this can become a recognised consumer product, we’ll be curious to see if users of TikTok and similar buy in to Lofty Factory’s idea, or if it’s simply too nostalgic. Watch this space.

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