Square format in 35mm film

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by carlos_borges, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. Hello to you all and sorry if you think this is a stupid question
    have you ever tryed to change a normal frame 35mm camera into a
    square format 24mm by 24mm ??

    If you think about it for a minute you will find this is not that
    stupid. If you have your enlargements no bigger than 30x40cm ( and
    this can easely be achived by a good quality lens for 35mm format and
    of course a good film (grain) and developer) and if you change to a
    square format 24x24mm then you get the 30x30cm enlargements without
    compromise quality. Besides, the best "part" of any lens is allways a
    circle around the center portion of the image. The lighter and
    affordable lens set is no doubt the 35mm line of any brand (Leica

    So if you have done something like this please describe the process.
    Thank you in advance for your replies.
  2. RangeFinder cameras or SLR cameras are OK.
  3. It doesn't seem like trying to modify the film transport and counter mechanism in a 35mm camera would be worth the effort involved, if that is what you are suggesting. An easy alternative would be to just add some square frame lines to your viewfinder as a compositional aid. Or, you could get one of the square-format 35mm cameras like the Tenax and Robot. In those cases you get the more efficient film use advantage along with the square frame.
  4. Modifying the film gate to 24x24 is possible. On an SLR you have to have lines scribed in the screen to show the square.

    Modifying the film advance would be very difficult. I would leave it alone.

    The simple solution is to just crop a 24x36 negative. Use an adjustable easel and set it up to print a square - 8x8, 11x11, or 16x16.
  5. It's beter "crop the frame" in ampliation than change the camera.
  6. Some of the old Robot cameras (Otto Berning of Dusseldorf) from the 50s were 24 x 24. I believe there were some that could not use standard 35mm cassettes, but the later models could. I believe they used a spring advance. Pretty pricey on the used market...probably hard to get one repaired also.
  7. The biggest issue is modifying the film advance. Most cameras "count" sprocket movement to set the positioning of the next frame.

    I suppose anything is possible.

    I'd go for either the Robot, the Tenax II, the Tenax I or the Taxona. The East German Tenax (I) with the coated Tessar is a very fine camera and within reason as far as cost.

    I have a somewhat lengthy writeup on my own site about the Tenax II, and a short one on the East German Tenax.

    Most Robot models use special film cartridges, and the Tenax II can be very expensive.
  8. Wasn't the old 126 a 24x24mm square?? If so, they had some upscale SLR's with interchangeable lenses. Rollei for one, and I am positive there were others, although I can't name them.
  9. Browsing through McKeown's I see that Minolta made the Minolta 24 Rapid that produced 24x24 images on 35mm. It had a CdS meter, manual or auto exposure and a rangefinder. Looks very compact with the f/2.8 32mm lens. Seems like it could be a sweet little shooter. The thing is, though, that any of these only make sense if you really like the square format as an end product. If you mostly end up cropping to a rectangle it makes more sense to go to one of the many half-frame options.
  10. I just pulled out my Olympus Quickmatic EES (126 instamatic, E Zuiko lens} and it has a square format. I have never bothered to put film in it yet but you make me think.
  11. We all Tenax cameras square format? How is the Novar lens I see on some of them? Anyone know?
  12. The old Agfa Rapid cartridges were loaded with standard 35mm film, but the frame size was 24mm x 24mm. Cool thing about the Rapid format was that you fed the film from one cassette to another so you never had to rewind. 126 was 28mm x 28mm. Using only one row of sprockets allowed slightly more height.
  13. Carlos,

    I do think about this. The easy way is to get a Tenax (I or II) or Robot. I like the idea of using less film. I also think about making a half frame rangefinder. However, the film transport modification becomes a real issue. If you try and do it here are a few thoughts.

    There is an outfit in California that modifies Nikon FM10, and Olympus SLRs to half frame. I cannot find the link, sorry.

    If you do the mod yourself find a camera that has a decoupled film advance, from the shutter cock. That way you can monkey with the amount of advance, with worrying about the effect on the shutter cocking procedure. Some camera may be amenable to having this decoupling imposed.

    One option is to modify a roll film camera to get what you need. The ideal candidate for this would be a 828 format camera. 828 format is 35 mm across with no sprocket holes, one alignment hole per frame like 126(new) format. The area of the picture is 40mm x 28mm. You could respool 135 format film, with custom marked backing paper and get 24x24mm^2 (135 being 24x36mm^2).

    Agreed, many lenses indeed have the best performance in the center of the image.

    I have more thoughts on this type of modification if you care to email me. However, have yet to put any of them into practice.

    BTW-1 the Tenax Automatic, was a 135 format, full frame, camera.

    BTW-2 the old 126 format was 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches^2. This was long discontinued by Kodak. The "new" 126 was 26.5 x 26.5 mm^2 but of course Kodak no longer makes that format.
  14. 35mm is small enough:)

    No but seriously, I started to like square format only when I started to use a TLR. This might be a coincide but i'm not convinced.
  15. Wonder why Kodak still makes 110 but not 126. I guess more plastic required in the casette. I see tons of instamatics out there just needing film. I have been scanning Grandma's old 126 negatives for archival purposes and kind of like that size. The pictures she usually got were 3x3. (Just guessing as I dont have one infront of me right now.) I have some unused casettes i was thinking of running through the Kodak Instamatic or selling it off. Kind of neat camera but uses 126.
  16. That would be Kodak reflex by the way. Not your average instamatic.
  17. I get square images from my fantastic Kodak 500 instamatic. It has a Schneider Xenar lens and a built in Goosen meter...an absolutely brilliant design, and very high quality build.

    I use fresh Ferrania colour negative 126 cartridges...a bit of fun. Makes you wonder how the 126 format died.

  18. Carlos,

    I will echo Mike Connealy here and second the vote on the Minolta 24 Rapid. I have one. It uses 35mm film (getting a pair of Rapid cassettes might be difficult) and the meter doesn't work on mine, but otherwise this is a capable little shooter.

    One can easily reload the Rapid cassettes in a film changing bag or darkroom by keeping the Rapid and 35mm cassette close together and stuffing the film into the Rapid cassette about an inch at a time.

    I enjoy shooting with mine, never mind that the one-hour lab tech who I took my film to for developing wondered what strange camera malfunction had turned out square images on 35mm film... :)

    --Micah in NC
  19. Carlos,

    I obtained one Rapid cassette in the Minolta 24 Rapid I bought. To use the camera, I had to buy a cheap Agfa Rapid Isopak (simple) camera (for the cassette). No big problem.

    --Micah in NC
  20. How square do you need it? How about the Marvelous Mercury II, with its half frame? OK, so it's more like 5x4, but to a 35 mm. shooter it looks almost square.
  21. 24x24mm would probably be awkward for automated processors to work with. Also, try finding a negative carrier for your enlarger. My negative scanner could not even handle it, since it expects 35mm format.
  22. Unless film economy is the prime motive, cropping the standard 24x36 frame would accomplish the same end if that format is your desire. The limited number of dedicated 24x24 cameras and concomitant lenses is a further obstacle. Conversion of the film advance mechanism is not an easy prospect. Multiple formats are much more practical in cameras using paper backed film, with multiple viewing windows in the back panel.

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