Monday, September 06, 2010

Great Wall + Polaroid = Sweet!

This is a project I've been meaning to do for awhile. I was just waiting for a cheap Great Wall and a cheap Polaroid back so I could combine the two! This was actually probably one of the less "fun" things I have done, but I will probably do it again sometime and correct some of the problems I had (and not trash so many useful parts).
We start with a Great Wall DF-2 camera...known for its "bokeh" heavy lens, and reviewed previously here.

Take off the back.

And take out some random bits I don't need. You can see that the film plane is actually quite a bit deep in the camera.

Putting the camera on the back, you see that I need to cut away a lot of metal.

My first worry was the 3-step shutter mechanism, as discussed in my Great Wall post. To put the back on, I would have to remove the first step, which is used to advance the film and release the shutter mechanism for cocking.

After taking it off, though, I realized that I could use the double-exposure switch, which does the same thing. It just releases the cocking mechanism (haha) so you can take another exposure. Cutting into the camera would not affect this part. So I measured and marked. It was I think 5/8" in + 3/16" to allow for the thickness of the Polaroid back. It has to be fairly precise as the Great Wall has pinpoint focusing.

And then I cut the rear part out using a hand saw and a hand-held jig saw. This is where I made my first mistake. I should have removed ALL the extra bits of metal. Sawing was not smooth at all, and the angles were awkward.

I should have taken off the outer cover plates, though they survived. And I should have removed the interior light-proofing parts, which I destroyed in the process. I didn't realize that they would be important until later. Here we see how the camera and back fit together...

I used a Hasselblad back because it was already precut for 120 film. I did make some adjustments to it, though, to try to make a larger image area.

I then had to take the old back and cut out the top and bottom to put back on the camera. I just used a hand saw for this part.

I had to deal with the holes left over from the film spool advance...

I retrospect (you will see why in a bit), I could have cut up another 1/4" inch. I also needed to seal up all the open areas. Old Spectra and Ace dark slides worked well.

At this point, all I really need to do is glue it together...

This is where it started to get ugly, and I have few pictures of the process. After letting it dry overnight, the shutter stopped working. I thought that maybe I got superglue on something and it was catching. It would fire, but stick halfway through. I did everything I could think of to avoid tearing the back off. I took the top off to see what I could do.

I messed around with this for far too long before I just gave up and tore the back off. It was a spring inside the wall that had come loose. It provides tension to make the shutter snap back. So I replaced it and put a bit of padding to keep it from popping out again. Then I glued the camera together again. Shutter was working great. Left it for a couple hours...shutter wasn't working again. After screwing around for another hour, I ended up tearing the back off again, and removing the double-exposure mechanism all together.

I have no idea why it was affecting the shutter, but taking it out fixed the camera. I can just turn the knob now to cock the shutter. On a side note, I opened up my other Great Wall to compare, and I did nothing to it except remove the knob, which involves one screw, and the cover plate...but now the double exposure mech doesn't work on that camera! It just lets me cock the shutter. I didn't change anything so I don't understand it at all. And, when I took apart the cameras, it is impossible to get the speed setting in the right place. So I can set the speed, but the indicator doesn't line I just have to know that I am three clicks over so it is at 60. I tried like 5 times to get them to line up and they won't.
So...ANYway. At this point the shutter works so I glue it back together and check focus with ground glass. Seems to be perfect! But, another problem...I destroyed the interior parts of the camera when I was cutting. When you cock the shutter, it totally lets a bunch of light into the interior of the camera. There is a piece on top that block light, and a shield for the sides that blocks light, as well. In this shot, along the sides...light shines through that gap, so it has to be covered yet allow the shutter to slide.

I had to reconstruct all of these parts with plastic. I don't have any photos of this process because by this time I wasn't having fun anymore and just wanted to be done with it. So, yeah, I did finish it...

Ugly! Did I forget to mention that I dropped the camera on the floor, bending the front of the lens? Doesn't affect anything other than the looks. And I lost the front skin...must have thrown it away, or it became a cat toy and is under the couch. But....does it work better than it looks? My first test shot with 664:

Leaky! I took it inside and shined a flashlight all around the inside and couldn't find any leaks. I figured it was my baffling system I built out of plastic, but it seemed to be light proof. Put some Fuji FP-100C in and took another shot...

Still leaky! Looks better cropped, of course. works! Focus seems to be spot on. Just that pesky lightleak. Another shot with ID-UV.

It was at this point that I painted the camera black in hopes that it would fix the mysterious leak. This morning, I took it out again for a few more test shots.

Argh! Leaks! After looking at it in the dark multiple times and finding nothing, I realized that it couldn't be the had to be the Polaroid back. And it was...leaking from the dark slide slot. So a piece of tape over the opening fixed the problem. No more leaks!

So, it works. A few thoughts. The bottom is cut off (which is actually the top of the Polaroid). I had this figured out pretty exactly, but when I made the plastic mask, it moved the back down just enough to cut off the edge of the shot. And the ugly edges from my baffling and tape. If I do this again, I will try to keep as much of the original camera intact as possible. I probably spent 20 hours on this total, but that included redoing things, etc. I could probably make another in six hours or so. Not sure if it's worth the time, money and hassle though. But that probably won't keep me from trying again. I'll call this the prototype. GRP.v01!

Adios until whenever!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fuji and Kodak, together again!

I haven't done a post for awhile, busy writing papers for school and all that. I do have more than one project in mind and in progress. Something I've been wanting to talk about for awhile is Fuji integral instant film, and my experiments with Kodak integral film. I've been trying to work out the best way to talk about this since my experience is my own and probably minimal at best...but it may be interesting by the time I finish writing this up!
So, okay, we've all heard of Polaroid film, and most people think of 600 integral film when they think of Polaroid. It looks like this:

There is also the older Time Zero film that looks the "same" as in it is the same shape. And the newer Impossible Project films, PX 70, PX600 and PX100, that are based on the 600 format. Polaroid made another integral format know as Spectra film. It does not work with 600 style cameras, using...Spectra cameras. It looks like this:

A wider format than 600. The Impossible Project makes a film for these Spectra cameras called PZ 600 Image. While Polaroid films have all been discontinued, these Impossible Project films are available, though finicky and experimental at this early stage. Polaroid also made four more integral formats: Captiva, i-Zone, mio, and Type 300. I haven't used any of these formats, so I don't have anything to say about them!
There are other options for integral films...Fuji films. Fuji does make integral film, and some are readily available in the US, while others are available overseas. I'll talk about those that I have experience with, and a couple of the cameras. There are many, many more camera models available in Japan, but generally only a few available elsewhere.
The easiest to obtain is Instax Mini. The cameras typically look something like this, or sillier depending on the model.

Or you can use a back made by Lomography for the Diana+ or LC-A, or hack one for the Fujipet or Banner like I did. The film is small and looks like this:

Jumping on the bandwagon, Polaroid has licensed Instax Mini and stamped Polaroid 300 on the Instax Mini camera. Pretty lazy, but good for Fuji, I'm sure. I love this shot of the camera because it has a photo of Lady Gaga ejecting from the top, and it's not even the actual film type for the camera. Looks more like Spectra shrunk down small, or most likely something done in Photoshop.

The other relatively easy Fuji format to find is Instax Wide. I don't believe this is officially sold in the US, but I see them from sellers on Amazon and eBay.The Wide cameras usually look like this if you are lucky...

Though this ugly thing is the most commonly available model:

This format is kind of a cross between 600 and Spectra. The entire sheet is about the same size as 600, but the image is landscape like Spectra and wider, though not as tall as the Spectra Image. A couple examples:

Sooo...those are the most common Fuji integral films. There are a couple other formats that are available in Japan. Well, they were until June 2010 when they were discontinued. These are the Ace and FI-800GT films.

These are actually the same film, but the packs are different. And they are both the same format as the old Kodak PR film, though the ISO is different.

There are too many Ace and 800GT cameras to show here, but here is an FI-800GT camera:

So I nabbed this stash of Ace and FI-800GT film...

I wanted to try the "use Fuji film in a Kodak camera" trick, as described here. So I bought this:

The film eject isn't motor driven...the camera has a crank on the side to push the film through the development rollers.
So, like I said, Fuji and Kodak films are basically the same.

The two fuji films are the same with different doesn't have gears. The 800GT and Kodak films are basically the same pack except for a tab, but the film is a different ISO, so the camera needs a filter so it doesn't overexpose the GT800.
Before trying the Fuji film, I had some Kodak instant film to try. Results?

Not much to see here! Moving on, I did the modification to use the FI-GT800. And...a positive result!

But...expired film! So mostly rotten shots. I was thinking that maybe the light was leaking through the bottom of the camera, given that many are white but you can still see the developer.

After wasting so many shots, I gave up for awhile. Recently, I picked up an Ace camera to put some more film to use.

Furthering the Kodak and Fuji connection, check out this similar Kodak camera:

After obtaining batteries and putting a film pack in it, I took it out for a spin. Definitely expired film, but not sure how old or how it was stored. But the first couple shots look decent.

But then all the shots came out blank, so I guess the film was dry...

So it was somewhat successful, though I wouldn't rely on it. No taking a shot and leaving without checking to see if actually develops.
So, in conclusion? No real conclusion...just a bit of rambling about my experience with integral films! Here is a shot to compare the sizes of the various films:

I see I haven't added very many posts to my blog this year. Quality over quantity, I guess. I have been writing a paper every week for the past year, but that will be over in November. Planned? I made a Polaroid back for a Great Wall camera, so that will probably be next. And I have an integral SX-70 back to fix up to use on my Mamiya Universal. I also should talk about my Crown Graphic. Using the Type 50 I have without so much vignette! All that and more in the near and distant future. Until then!