CameraMods: Focal length and vignetting on Fuji Instax Wide 300 lens hack

Right now the camera is somewhat set up like a bellows camera.

That piece of wood is a cutting board. It acts as the front frame of a bellows camera. The block of wood fits over the original barrel (albeit a shortened one). It was still too thick setting the lens too far forward.

So I had to do this.

The cutaway was to make it thinner. However, only after spending two hour sawing and planing and chisel, and still more to do, did I realize I should have just cut a thinner  block. Next time.

Now set further back I took the rig out for a spin. Possibly there are light leaks. And definitely, the vignetting remains.


UPDATE: May 3/4

The lens was set too close to the film plane. I moved the lens forward by less than a 1/4 inch.
I took these:

I also load two sheets of Instax Wide into a 4x5 holder. I was able to focus on a ground glass and was happy to see the potential of the lens and film pairing:

So there's potential. Yesterday, I added a spacer to firm that distance up. I believe I have infinity focus now.

I'll shoot some more tomorrow and this time carry a light meter. And see if I can get proper shots off.

I know the camera is kind of rough looking, but I've learned a lot about how the camera operates and I think the next build will be far better. Until then, this one is pretty fun to shoot.

CameraMods: slapping on the 105mm Schneider Kreuznach to Instax Wide 300

Okay, I've been thrashing at this camera.

It's gutted of circuitry except for the little on/off circuit board in the grip. I use it to power the development rollers and the ejection cycle.

Ejection is fully manual. You have to stop the motor yourself. But the good news is it's fairly easy to judge when to stop. When the film fully ejects stop the rollers by releasing the shutter. (I've blog on the circuit in the previous post.)

Since then I've been struggling with a nice way to set the infinity focus and cut the right barrel length. Plus I've been working on a decent way of attaching the  lens board to the barrel!

All the messing around has been at the expense of shooting film.

By Sunday, I got sick of it. And slapped on the components I had on hand just to have the pleausre of taking a few shots.

The focal length is still too long. But here's what I took.

Right now, the original lens barrel, somewhat shortened, projects into the wood block.

The hole in the wood block is 2 1/4 inches. The barrel fits a tad lose. I've taped it but woud normally use black felt.

The wood block is kinda of fun. At it's base, I inserted a tripod mount. I was able to use a quick release Cullman plate and bracket to act as a brace to keep the wood block and the camera together.

The lens board hole is 1 1/4".

The overall rig is bulky but still LIGHTER than my 4x5 rig.

I wanted to make a more refined hack. And will soon. But for now, I'm going to load some film and shoot it. Maybe figure out what back focal length is too.

How I wired my Instax Wide to develop... after my #instaxhack lens mod

Things don't get simpler than this. All I needed the switch to do is allow or not allow current from the battery to the positve + contact to the motor.

In the above photo, the red wire comes from the positive side of the battery case. The red wires goes to the GND contact on the switch circuit board. When you push the shutter release, the round contact on the, you turn the motor on.

It turns the motor on because the current goes through the red wire, through the switch, to the white wire, which is soldered to the SP contact on the switch circuit board.

That white wire, because it continues the flow of current from the red wire, leads to the positive contact on the electric motor in the picture below. The motor has the red painted dot which lets you know which contact on the motor should be positive.

After that all you have to do is take the negative wire (the black wire) that leads to the Negative side of the battery pack and solder it to the negative side of the motor.

That completes the circuit. The circuit breaks when you take your finger off the shutter release and closes, running the motor, when you push on the button.

Hold the button for about a five count or until the film clears and, I've discovered, the ejector which feeds the film into the rollers will be ready for the next MANUAL exposure.

#instaxhack Prototype 1 of Instax Wide 300 lens hack - and...vignetting

It was a little bit wild these last twelve hours.

I couldn't sleep and banged away at starting at 5:40 AM. Which is not good because I'm supposed to be writing my second book instead of this blog. Oh well.

Looks great, right?

But there's vignetting. I took these pictures this morning. In the landscape orientation, the running track on which the lens sits, can be seen on the top left and bottom right corners. At the top right and bottom left, is the extended lens barrel. Don't mind the messy dining table. And admire the authentic Thonet dining chair.

The cause of the vignetting can possibly be fixed.

The lens section has a lens housing (conical part) and a lens barrel (the cylindrical part).

The lens is cannibalized from my Balda Baldalux (sniff) has a back focal length of 99.3 millimetres. How do I know this? Because some German optical engineer wrote so on the back of the lens board about 60 years ago! Thank you my friend.

I mention this because the original lens was longer. To set the new lens at infinity, I had to shorten the extension of the barrel. Because, I'm testing I didn't want to cut my precious Fuji Instax Wide 300 barrel unless I had to.

The cylindrical lens barrel is not fully extended. The running track on which the lens barrel pins slide along were only halfway rotated. Both barrel and track are impinging on the projected image on the way to the Instax film. Here's a sketch of how it was set up when shot.

The light and image has to get to the film plane without striking the lens barrel or any bits of lens housing.

My next move will be to SAW the lens barrel short enough (from the front end) so that I can fully extend the lens barrel. That may do the trick for the barrel vignetting, and the runners will  also go to their proper shooting position (tucked at the top and bottom of the frame instead of in the corners).

Also my last blog post about wiring...well, I threw that out the window. I got rid of the main circuit board. The only thing the shutter release does it run the motor and ejection/development process.

No indicator or on-off. I worried I wouldn't be able to guestimate when the ejector returned to its start position but it was easier than I thought.

Just stop pushing the shutter when the exposed Instax film comes works, that at least.

I will share how I wired it soon. I did that a few pictures this morning - but I want to focus on some lens barrel cutting FIRST.

#instaxhack Look at the wiring of an Instax Wide 300 mod hack

Both images are BEFORE images. And will be my guide for soldering the wires back on to the series of contacts on the right near the viewfinder.

#instaxhack Circuit board of Instax Wide 300 mod hack

So screw down the circuit board. I'm pointing at both screws.

The red wire is the Positive and goes to VBAT+. The black wire is Ground or Negative or whatever and goes to VBAT-.

Rewiring the Instax Wide 300... #instaxhack

...without the lens cover opening
...without flash.
...without shutter control.
...without exposure control.

BUT with...

...Instax Wide film ejecting.
...developing rollers rolling
...stopping when the film ejects.

All controlled through the circuit board.

It begins.

Here's how it looks, right NOW! I'm holding the power wires leading from the battery case. That's my first re-soldering job. But wait.

I first have to screw down the lens barrel and housing as per below. Note the image is upside down. The two screws you see are at the top, not the bottom of the lens housing.

I want to get the above two screws in because they sit under the circuit board. I need to put the circuit board in place and reconnect to test which of the many wires does what and then short circuit certain processes, which I will explain as I go along.

Some notes on modifying an Instax Mini Wide 300 with a manual lens #instaxhack

Greater control of aperture, shutter speed, and focus is the goal.

The Wide's limitations are:

-it had only two focusing points, 3m to infinity and .9m to 3m, plus a silly add-on lens for close-ups....which actually isn't too bad
-one aperture at f/14
-no control over the flash

What I want from the mod:

-better lens (got it)
-manual shutter, aperture, focus (check, check, check)
-no flash

Some mod challenges:

-the camera has a sequence to run through to take a picture
  • the camera makes an exposure decision (it may have only f/14 but it had a shutter range of 1/64 to 1/200, arguably three speeds 64,125, 200, but who knows)
  • it makes a decision to use the flash or not, loads the capacitor
  • the shutter clicks (ahem, I am the ORIGINAL "The Shutter Goes Click" kids)
  • flash fires
  • a trigger is tripped to signal that the motor can run
  • the motor activates the ejector (real nifty thing in the back) and the rollers
  • something tells the motor to turn off ONCE the ejector returns back to its original position otherwise you could develop the second unexposed sheet
So, unless you want to guess when to stop the motor, you have to save the ejection sequence. To be honest, it's the ONLY thing you need the original camera to do.

All other function are taken over my the manual lens including guess focusing (though I plan to post how to rangefind with a paper rangefinder).

Instax Wide 300 teardown for manual lens hack mod #instaxhack

No comments for now, just pictures. Okay, time for a few comments.

The camera.

The donor camera. The Balda Baldalux. I just don't shoot 6x9 in 120 anymore. So, it has been cannibalized. The earlier lens I showed with the Compur shutter wouldn't do because it doesn't have a focus. It's a great lens (see examples with flash, a negative thrown down on a LED light table ).

In a lens swap project, understanding how the lens barrell and lens mount works is the real heart of the problem.

I did not understand this when I started. I dismantled the  entire camera. You may not have to (see below). But if you are so inclined...

There are screws to take out all along the outside edges. The trickiest one is the camera strap lug over the hand grip and shutter release is a SCREW. Unscrew that too. I took me 20 minutes why it wouldn't come apart clean.

So unscrew, keep track because the screws aren't the same length.
Peel back the silver. It is a softer plastic so be careful.
Then separate the front and back body.

One of my big priorities was to disable the flash. It disconnected the orange and white wires from the capacitor (see picture below). Why? The flash uses up lots of energy. Plus it fails to take advantage of the slower speeds I intend to put in. ALSO, I hope to attach a more powerful lens if I need one. But it won't be on the body.

You can remove the circuit board. But you DON'T have to. I believe. If you are so inclined to remove the circuit board, you will find to screws beneath. Unso those and you will be able to separate the lens housing (think of this as the 'bellows') from the chamber where the film lives.

This is what it looks like with the lens housing and gearing (that pushes the barrel out when the camera is turned on) removed.

Instead, with the camera off and the barrel in its off position, that is set in, try to get the lens cover plate off. You should be able to pry it. Don't it as it can be a mount for your new lens. Obviously, I did not do that here. I removed the entire barrel which meant removing the chip board. Probably effort I should have avoided.

But there you go, the lens cover popped off. Underneath is the lens and shutter assembly.

I drilled the lens plate out. I'll insert the photo here when I get the chance.

Instax Wide 300, old lenses, and how to develop instant film without a camera #instaxhack

Here's the deal. I experimented with Instax Mini film a year ago.

I put them in old cameras and hand developed in the dark by shoving the instant sheets through the rollers of a old Fuji PA-45 film back. It kinda worked. The results were literally uneven.

The PA-45 were too tight and did not spread the developing chemicals evenly throughout the sheet.

But finding a way to use Instax film, especially the Wide, was a goal I had from the start. I suppose I could have bought just a pack of Wide and tried it on my old 4x5 press camera BUT I decided to go whole hog and buy a camera too. Indeed, I could use it as a developer as opposed to using it has a camera.

But it got me thinking, why not put a good lens on it. The camera has lots of limitations. Only two focus settings. Fixed f stop. Plastic lens. Not exactly creative control.

So I looked up the samples online. Of course, there's that one using LEGO. Albertino is featured with some provocative examples and inspiring stuff.

Which of course got me thinking about putting to use some of my older lenses like this Jos Schneider & Co, Kreuznach 105mm f/4.5 Xenar with a Compur shutter.

But the thing is most of the camera hackers don't SHOW you how the mangled, modded cameras are attached to the mod parts. There are tantalizing images out there. They you wonder if YOU, or, well, me, can do it. I plan to try. And I'll show you. I have the camera, I have some lenses, I have LEGO. I'll do my best to show you how I go about it. Soon.