instantphoto.eu              MANUAL LOMO INSTANT WIDE or LOMOWIDESTAX  

The Lomo'Instant Wide camera 
partially fills a gap that Fuji didn't want close. Fuji makes wonderful instant film that could be professionally used, but only makes crappy cameras with very limited specifications. It has many features that Instax cameras do not have, a page for this camera is here.

The body of this camera is very compact, the ejection is quiet and reliable, much better than the manual Lomo Belair Instant back with its handle. As there are no motorized Instant Wide backs available (several projects have failed), I tried to make a full manual camera out of a
Lomo'Instant Wide camera. This is a step to step description of my project.

It starts with dismantling the Lomo Wide. All first steps are reversible. This might also serve as a guide for shutter/aperture repair of the 
Lomo'Instant Wide. I will indicate the point of no return.

First unscrew the three screws at the deepest point to remove the shutter/optical assembly. Be careful with the ribbon cable.

Next remove the rear lens (3 screws clearly visible), you are now at the diaphragm, a simple plastic blade, moved by an electromagnet for F22, otherwise it is F8.

If you remove the other screws still visible, you will reach the shutter. Two plastic blades, managed by another electromagnet.

The other side of the block with the front lens and the two electromagnets.

So far so good, it would be reversible. Emptied of all moving parts, the Lomo block does not produce any error, if you push the shutter button, it ejects. The principle is simple: if there is a lot of light, the diaphragm magnet will have current to put the blade with the small hole in place. The shutter opening time is managed by second magnet, current=open, no current=closed.

The question that arises: if you cut the cables, will it produce an error? You need an intact circuit to eject. I didn't see any other wires than those for the magnets. This is the point of no return. If you cut the cables, it's over. I have done it, I cut the cables finally. I presumed that Lomo does it the simple way, they won't complicate their lifes. So: 2 magnets, 4 wires and no electronic control. I cut the wires and all still worked.

This i
s the body with all shutter and optic parts removed, cables cut and the inner tube sawed off.

Now you can attack the next step: fix the new optics at the right distance. It won't be that easy, but we'll see...

The shutter/optical block comes from a camera of my collection, an Ensign 820. It has front cell focussing, so no helicoid necessary. It's said to cover 4x5. Before taking the optical block off the camera, measure carefully the distance from the lens to the film plane and write it down.

The new block fresh from service.

I took an old theaded aluminium extension tube which just fitted aroud the outer tube of the Lomo body. The optical block is fixed via step-up rings to the thread of the tube. Taking measuresI found out that it is 2mm too long. A ground glass confirms: it focusses up to 15m, but not to infinity.

You can easily make a ground glass yourself. Take an empty Fuji Wide cartridge and cut the back part off so that there is a frame left. Make a ground glass from clear plastic, e.g. a CD cartridge cover. Cut the clear plastic to the size of the cartridge. Take some medium grain sandpaper and sand one surface until it resembles a ground glass. Put it into the cartrigde frame, sanded side down. Eventually fix with some glue. If you put the frame into your camera, you can control focussing. In this case I took 2 mm off the tube and focus was fine.

Some what longer than the original, but not too long.

Fixing the tube with black silicon mastic.

The first result of this project.

Seen from the film compartment.

Big disappointment the next morning, it doesn't work. There's a lot of vignetting and there is a bright patch in the center of the photos.

At 2.50m, diaphragm F11.

Infinity, F22.

So you need a bigger tube and cut into the heart of the device to avoid vignetting, that's possible. Maybe there would be no problem with a wider lens, like the original Lomo lens. But the optics have a problem too. I tried the optics on the old Ensign camera on 120 film and it was good. Optics, aperture and shutter were revised by a pro. There is something that escapes me. I had exactly the same phenomenon with a camera that option8 made for me, which he kindly took back and made me a different one, it is here.

It's a pity. One can see that there could have much sharper images than with the Lomo optics. So I gave the camera to a friend, a professional of camera work, to get vignetting out of the way. He cut a bigger hole for a bigger basis..

The film chamber after cuttig into the plastic.

The revised camera. He had to peel off the skin, cut it and re-glue it, a difficult operation.

Seen from above.

Seen from below.

Photo inside, F11, 3m. No vignettig and maybe only a hint of the clear patch.

Photo outside, F22, infinity. No vignetting, a bit of the clear patch still visible.

Next step: I bought another Ensign to rule out the lens. To make it short: it did not help. I gave the lens to my friend and he adapted it to an Instax 200 body. He had the same problems with a slightly clear spot as well. Then I bought an adapter to try ND filters and different shades.

The adapter.

Adapter mounted.

Camera with ND filter.

Camera with ND filter

Maybe the ND filter still softens the clear patch further, it seems to be almost invisible, you wouldn't see it if you hadn't known about it. But with ND filters you get bigger apertures. And bigger apertures bring a bit of vignetting back. It's fine, but not ideal.

Another try: camera with a big shade.

And finally we are there: the clear spot has gone.

Obviously the lens gets stray light from the side. Maybe the original bellows dampen these rays whereas a tube reflects them to the bottom. Anyway: here we are with a manual Instax camera with good picture quality.

As I did not use the camera very often, I had it altered another time. It now has the possibility to take the lenses from the Mamiya Universal/Press sytem, which are marvellous. The result is here.