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  1. #1

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    Modify a 35mm SLR to make square images?

    I have been using my 35mm Pentax in the horiz format and cropping the sides in printing to create square images. Was wondering if anyone knows how easy or difficult it is (or of it is even possible) to modify a body to not advance the film as far, thus enabling more shots on a roll of film.

    I would assume if it could be done at all, the more basic a camera was, the better (no problem with that). I currently have a Pentax P3 with a manual film advance lever.

    Again, I don't mind shooting the way I do know but I assume I could get almost 50 shots on a 36 exp roll if it could be done.

  2. #2
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    First, you would have to modify the film advance mechanism to take up a shorter length of film per frame.
    I don't know how it would be done, if it can even be done.

    However, over and above that, you would have to modify the aperture plate in front of the film gate to a different size.
    That is what I believe the most difficult part of this project would be, assuming that the film advance mechanism can be modified without completely rebuilding it from scratch.

    I suggest you try to find yourself a nice medium format camera that takes 120 film. Many of these cameras have square frames. My Yashica Mat does.

    120/medium format film is nearly as easy to handle and process as 35mm and, as a bonus, the images are a little more than four times the size (by surface area) of the 35mm frame.

    If you make good photos in 35mm, with a bit of practice, you can make images that will knock your socks off with a medium format!
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  3. #3

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    I agree with Worker 1181 it would be easier to go with a TLR.

    Jeff

  4. #4

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    There were a very few 35mm square shooters. The Zeiss Tenax and the Robot come to mind. A simple camera like an Argus A can be converted to 24x24, but not a camera that advances and cocks on the same stroke.

  5. #5

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    You could make a square film gate that would fit inside the 24x36 film gate and attach it with plastic "wings" to the sides. The wings can be glued flat to the surface that is between the film rails. There's enough clearance there for a thin plastic wing.

    Don't forget you'd have to also put a mask on the viewfinder ground glass. But you would not have to modify the film advance if you were willing to sacrifice some film for blankness between frames.

  6. #6

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    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I actually shot medium format for years (had a traditional studio) but I consider myself semi-retired now and shoot street and some street fashion.

    I just like the idea of creating square format pics and certainly don't mind doing it the way I have been doing it (with the cropping). I figured it might not be possible- I just thought that if there was an easy way to alter the film advance mechanism in a manual camera, it might be a way to get more shots on a roll.

    I'm not really complaining about the cost - I shoot b/w exclusively and do all my own processing, just hate wasting the film if I don't have to.

  7. #7
    MattKing's Avatar
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    You are a decade or two late - 126 film would have been perfect for you, especially if you had something like an Instamatic Reflex.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  8. #8

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    Mark the view finder to your square then crop square on the enlarger

    ... OR....

    Mask the film gate like they do on some old 6x12s n 6x9s using an insert.

    .
    Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.

  9. #9

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    First it's not an easy thing to modify the camera to shoot 24x24mm format so that you can shoot 50 frames out of a 36 exposure roll. So I think you would need to define your need and do things a bit differently.
    1. If you simply like square pictures then cropping is easy like many have said.
    2. If you want to avoid changing film so often may be try to roll your own and get about 40 frames or may be trying to find thinner film so you can have longer roll.
    3. If you simply want to save money then the saving isn't worth it.

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    You are a decade or two late - 126 film would have been perfect for you, especially if you had something like an Instamatic Reflex.
    Or better yet the Rollieflex SL26!

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