I gaffer taped a Belair Instax back onto a Land camera. It worked alright.
Here’s how I did it.
Prep the back:
- get an instant back. Unfortunately, they don’t seem very available. Back ordered or discontinued everywhere. I can thank Jana for giving me one.
- Pry up the long metal rectangle with “Instant back” . It’s just glued on.
- unscrew 4 black screws next. This will remove the part that has the hot shoe, which is wired to the curved part.
- don’t bother unscrewing the 4 silver screws. Those just hold down the little silver nubs.
- pry off the thin rounded bottom which has the silver round springy button near the tripod hole. This rounded long part is just glued on and comes off with pliers.
At this point, the film plane is still recessed inside the back. You could stop here, and accommodate for the recessed film plane with how you adapt the camera (more on that later), or you could shave it down so that the whole back (except the housing for the rollers) is flush with the film plane. I opted to cut it down to the film plane. Fortunately, I have handy friends, and one used a band saw & sander to do this. I gaffer taped up the back to avoid extra debris first.
Prep the Land camera:
- Pry off the back, including the little short wall between the film & the battery area, so the whole back is flat.
- That’s it, really. Now for the gaffer tape.
Putting it together: Line up the backs, so the film window matches, but the wind lever isn’t blocked. Tape them together, and hope you’ve covered light leaks.
Now the interesting part is that although the film plane in the Land camera is recessed, you can accommodate for this by Not extending the front of the camera as much. This way, the distance from the front of the camera to the film will be approximately the same. The Land camera locks into its fully extended position in the front, but you can pull it in a bit and it will still work. (Note: you can’t pull it in too far, as the collapsed bellows will separate a few bits of metal in the back and not run down the battery, effectively turning it off.)
To estimate the new distance, I took an empty Instax cartridge, and taped over the film plane area with clear tape, which simulates a ground glass. I tore off some plastic on the back of the cassette to see that ground glass area better. Then I put it in the camera, and took some low light exposures, which held the shutter open long enough to get a look at how it was focusing. I thought I might have to take apart the lens to get rid of the shutter for this, but a long exposure was good enough. When I felt like it was close enough, I gaffer taped the not-quite-extended lens in place, so it wouldn’t spring out any more.
Next, I taped a 4ND filter in front of the lens to accommodate the difference in film speed. I set the camera to ISO 75 (there was no 100 setting on this model, just 75, 150, 300 & 1000), and used the larger aperture setting (cloudy day) switch on the front of the camera. I just guessed that these settings might be right.
The Instant back tilted the viewfinder, but this was just an inconvenience. This camera was just a proof of concept with plenty of inaccuracies built in. In this case, the film plane isn’t even flat. The upper edge is closer to the Land camera than the lower edge.
Then I went to a backyard party and shot 2 packs. Some of the exposures were very under exposed, some very overexposed. Here are the ones that worked, while I was also playing with exposure settings.
It was a bit dark in the back yard, so my exposures were a little long. There’s probably a way to shoot with an ND2 and different camera settings to get shorter exposures. But again, I was just shooting for proof of concept.
Check out the Belair Instant Back group on Flickr for more examples of converting other cameras to use this back.
Next I’d like to put this back on other cameras.