Recognizing the difference between Super-8 and Normal-8
The film's sprocket hole size determines the type of film. The holes in Regular 8mm film are larger and almost square, whereas the holes in Super 8mm are elongated and rectangular.
Both Normal 8 and Super 8 film is 8mm wide.
Our example images are much larger than the actual size of the film to help you see the difference between the two types of film.
The film spools are also different. In Normal 8, the center hole of the film spool is smaller than the center hole of the Super-8 spool. In Normal-8, the center hole measures approximately 8 mm. Super-8 measures approximately 13 mm.
On the left is the common 50 foot reel of Regular 8mm film.
The hole in the center of a reel of Regular 8 is smaller than the hole in the center of a Super 8 reel. One cannot fit their finger in the center hole of a Regular 8 reel whereas, usually, one can in a Super 8 reel.
The film lengths can often be determined by the visual indicators on each film reel -- see image. Common small reels (approx. 3" or 7 1/2 cm diameter) are about 3 1/2 minutes total running time.
How to recognize if film is silent or has sound
Only films that have magnetic band(s) have the capability of having sound recorded onto them. Simply having a magnetic band on a film does not mean the film definitively has sound. It could still be silent if no sound was ever recorded onto it.
How to determine if your film was shot at 18 or 24 frames per second
Most Normal-8 films were shot at 16 frames per second, and most Super-8 films were shot at 18 frames per second.
Very few films were shot at 24 frames per second (fps) and usually only a trained projectionist can determine the speed at which a film was shot.
Film shot at 24 fps produced smoother looking camera movements. It should have been the preferred speed to shoot at, but there was the cost factor. It used up film more quickly!
This image above shows the difference between two different types of 16mm film perforation holes.
Shown from left to right (note that all perforation holes are the same size):
1) regular 16mm film - used in a 16mm camera
2) 16mm wide "Double 8" film (which was 25 feet long, when the unprocessed roll was purchased) - used in an 8mm camera
3) 8mm film "Normal 8" - split lengthwise (During processing at the lab, the lab would split the 25 foot reel into 2 sections of 25 feet, then joined the two 25-foot lenghts. That reel became a 50 foot reel!)