Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Type 50s and the Mamiya Universal...heaven!

Up until now, I have had zero experience with the larger format peel-apart film, generally known as Type 50. This differs from the Type 100s in that it is larger, of course, and each sheet is loaded individually as opposed to an entire pack at once. There are three basic backs that were made by Polaroid to take this film type: 545, 545i and 545 Pro. There may be others, but I'm still figuring all of this out. The 545 was the original back, the 545i was an updated version (basically the same, just prettier), and the Pro has a built in timer and thermometer, I believe. The caveat is that you only have a need to provide the camera, typically a large format camera. Which I don't have. For that reason, and because the film tends to be much more expensive, I've been avoiding it. Until now.
First, let's get to know the different Type 50 films that were available. There is actually an interesting variety...most likely because this was regarded as professional film. This info is from The Land List.

Type 51 - BW, ASA 320, print + negative
Type 52 - BW, ASA 200
Type 53 (old) - BW, ASA 200, acetate negative
Type 53 (new) - BW, ASA 800
Type 54 - BW, ASA 100
Type 55 - BW, ASA 50, print + negative
Type 56 - Sepia, ASA 400
Type 57 - BW, ASA 3000
Type 58 - Color, ASA 75
Type 59 - Color, ASA 80
Type 64, Color, ASA 64 (tungsten)
Type 72 - Color, ASA 400
Type 79 - Color, ASA 100

Lots of choices! So...I wanted to be able to use some of this film. I've seen backs for the 600SE before, and figured I could make one for my Mamiya Universal! I stuck with the basic 545 back because it was only $10, as opposed to the 545i that usually sells for at least $50, and the Pro for even more. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that might not work. Here is the back I used.

As you see, there is no way to connect the mount to my camera. I think most large format cameras use clamps of sorts...but I'm not all that familiar with how that works. So...I needed to make a mount so I can attach this thing to my Universal. I needed a Polaroid mount, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I was just going to destroy. I was offered this beauty for a low price. This is on old-style Polaroid back for the Universal.

I just had to get the mount off of that beast... of the issues here is that Type 100 is obviously smaller than Type 50. That open area is about the size of the image on Type 100.

You can see that the entire print fits in the 545 opening, with room to spare.

I didn't want to end up just exposing 100 sized images onto Type 50 film...not much point and the cost is much higher. I needed to make the exposed area larger and to do that I needed to cut out the extra stuff inside the mount. I just used a jigsaw and file.

This allows for a much larger exposure area. One other issue was that the 545 back is a bit thicker than a 100 back, so the film plane is about 3/8 of an inch or so further away. I remedied this by grinding down the back surface of the mount. I don't have many tools, so Skorj suggested using the sidewalk...and that's exactly what I did! Poured some water on the sidewalk, sat down, and ground away for about 30 minutes. I removed the metal to almost the inside metal flanges. I actually did this before the cutting...but here you can see the thickness of an original mount compared to my ground mount, as well as the side that I ground.

For those planning on doing this themselves for a Mamiya or 600SE, note that I removed the "teeth" before working on the mount to prevent accidental snapping or something equally annoying.

The mount is now the same size as the opening on the Mamiya I have maximum exposure for this camera. There isn't any way to get more from it!

The next task is to attach the mount to the 545. I used Liquid Nails Adhesive. I also plugged up the old screw holes in case they might be a source of light leaks. But before I did that, I had to shave off the small lip on the 545 back so the mount would be flush with the back.

Overnight to dry. But that white is a bit ugly, and white isn't known to be particularly lightproof (verified with a flashlight). So I bought some matte black paint and gave it five or six coats. Pretty it up and keep out stray light particles.

Looks almost professional! Let's get this bad boy on the Mamiya...

Doesn't exactly make the camera any more portable! Weight isn't all that bad, though. Now for the best test it! I've never used the film before, so I had to read the instructions. Each sheet of film is individually packed.

I stuck it in the camera, followed the instructions (push film in, slide covering out, take shot, slide covering back, push down roller lock, pull film, develop and peel!). Oooh the anticipation!

And a backwards peel for me, of course...and it works!!!

This was with the 50mm lens. For comparison, here is basically the same shot with the same lens on ID-UV (Type 100).

Big difference! And...I have almost full coverage on the Type 50! Just lost about 3/16" on each end. Not bad, as I think all of the similar works I've seen have a black border on all sides of the image. Kind of funny that you can see my shadow with the camera...will have to watch that when shooting!
This was my only test shot. I've verified that it works, and this isn't the kind of film I want to waste screwing around...need to plan each shot and all that. But I think this is one of my favorite projects so far, and certainly something I will use as often as I can.
Until next time! I'll see what else I can cook up...