Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Baby" Rolleiflex 4x4 + 35mm film

Last year I bought a box of old cameras, mainly wanting one Speed Graphic that was in the mix. In the bottom of the box was a beat-up and half destroyed Rolleiflex 4x4. According to the serial number, this camera was built in 1934. Unfortunately, it uses a mostly extinct film format called "127" film (there are a few places that you can order it custom, but it is very expensive and not really worth the trouble).

I happened across it a few weeks ago in my junk drawer and I thought I might could salvage the shutter for something. I started to take it apart, poking around the inside. I was pleased to find the shutter actually worked and the lenses cleaned up with just a bit of work. I took apart the hood and found the ground glass in relatively good shape. I started replacing some lost screws and bending some parts back into shape, and suddenly I realized I had a mostly working camera.

The film mechanism for 127 film had to come out so I removed that (it can be put back) and found that 35mm cartridges were just slightly too big. I had an idea though - I took the camera into my darkroom and then removed a 35mm cartridge spool with film on it from a bulk loaded cartridge - it fit! I wound the film on in the dark and closed up the camera.

Amazingly, I can use 35mm film without any issue this way. The 35mm film, with the sprockets exposed, is just slightly less wide than the film gate.

Here's some images I made. This camera has a Zeiss 6cm f/3.5 Tessar lens on it:


It was fun to shoot and since I sold my Yashica 124G, it's nice to shoot a TLR again! I don't know if I'll use this camera much (or just maybe sell it) but it was fun to tinker with it and make a usable camera out of it.


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  2. Very interesting - I will have to give this a go! Thank you for the article. Patrick (UK)

  3. Wow, this is awesome, your photos turned out beautiful. I am looking at buying a 4x4, but was concerned about the film. If it takes 35mm (with help) that would be a great solution. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!