instantphoto.eu              Fuji UniversalStax

The Fuji UniversalStax is a custom made camera body, based on the body of an Instax Wide 300, ready to take the full manual lenses of the Mamiya Universal/Press/23 cameras. The Mamiya lenses have an excellent reputation and there is quite a choice of focal lengths.

So why choose a full manual camera? Fuji makes wonderful instant film that could be professionally used, but only makes crappy cameras with very limited specifications. A manual camera offers many features that other Instax cameras do not have, as: extended manual modes, B mode with long exposure times, multiple exposure and a flash connexion.

The technical specifications depend on your lenses.

Film: Fujifilm Instax Wide Film
Exposure Area: 62mm x 99mm

Aperture: depends on lens. varies from f/3.5 to f/22
Lenses: 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, 90mm, 127mm, 150mm, 250mm
Focal range: varies, 0.50m - ∞ , manual focus
Shutter speed: 1/500s - 1 second, B mode
Viewfinder: Optical viewfinder 
Flash: PC socket on lenses
Motorized ejection. Takes 4 AA batteries.
Size: 190 x 120 x 110mm with 65mm lens
Weight: 960 g with batteries, full film and 65mm lens
More weights: body only 470g, 50mm 600g, 65mm 340g, 75mm 630g, 90mm 420g, 100mm 480g, 150mm 530g, 250mm 1830g (!)

Some pictures of the camera:

What you get: camera body, instructions, compact laser rangefinder and its custom made accessory shoe adapter, focussing cards, test shots made with your body.

Front without lens.
Viewer and eject button (ex shutter button). Rangefinder mounted.

Back side. Viewfinder eyepiece, back opening button.

Compact rangefinder. USB chargeable.

Rangefider lights up, distances in feet and meters possible.

Right side. Strap lug near the finder.

Left side with grip strap lug and battery compartment.

Camera with all of the lenses: to the left: 250mm, 150mm, 127mm, 100mm and 90mm, to the right: 75mm and 50mm, on the body: 65mm.

With 65mm lens..

A very compact camera.

With 50mm lens.

With 75mm lens.

With 90mm lens

With 100mm lens.

With 127mm lens.

With 150mm lens.

With 250mm lens. You hold a huge lens with a camera attached.

My favorite combination, 65mm and a small Gossen light meter.

With an adapter (flash shoe adapter in this case) you can attach the Mamiya viewer.

This is the
special multi-frame viewer with frames for several lenses. You will have to take it off for eject.

Some first photos, quickly taken. Speed and aperture are noted on the margin of each photo. They were taken on 2 days with quite different weather. Focal length comparison.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 50mm. Sunny winter day with strong contrasts.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 65mm.

Calais, quartier Mollien. The same 65mm lens. Cloudy weather.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 75mm.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 90mm.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 100mm.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 127mm. The lens has a mask inside and has to be carefully aligned.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 150mm. The lens has a mask inside and has to be carefully aligned. Nevertheless there is a hint of shade in the edges.

The masks of the 150mm. I will get rid of them later.

Calais, quartier Mollien. 250mm. The lens has a mask inside and has to be carefully aligned, but the same as the 150mm: there is a hint of shade in the edges, which will disappear if you get rid of the mask. As you can see, the lens is prone to flare. There was streaky light from the right side. You would have to attach the huge shade.

Some more photos:

Calais, quatier Mollien.

Calais, quatier Mollien. Focus 3m.

Calais, quatier Mollien.

Close focus, 1m.

Handling is not as easy as an ordinary Instax camera, it's a full mechanical camera, don't complain, you wanted one. So you have to measure the light, set speed, aperture and focus, cock the shutter and release it. Ejection is via the old shutter button on the body. It's not one push and a cycle, you have to hold it down until ejection is complete. But you have to release it in time, if not, a second photo is moved up. Fortunately the sound of the motor changes when ejection is complete, so it's easy. If you owned ordinary  Instax wide cameras for years, as I do, it's a bit difficult not to touch the old shutter button in order to take a photo, but you get used to it. A handle with a cable release might help a lot. There is no counter for the photos that are left. So either you have a good memory or you have to take notes. There is no battery charge indicator and no switch to turn the camera off. So be careful not to touch the ejection button, which sits on the camera grip, when you put the camera into a bag or take it out of it. But in principle handling is just as easy as any other mechanical camera with the big difference that you can have immediate results.

If you want to change lenses, you will have to do this in absolute darkness or, much easier, in a changing bag. There is no dark slide to protect the film. But changing lenses is easy and a big advantage of this camera. The Mamiya lenses are superb. So I am very happy with this camera. I bought it on the big auction site, the name of the US seller is maximumphoto. He has a good blog here (link opens in a new window). you can now buy directly from him. He also sells the 3D printed parts alone and you can do the rest yourself. As he is so kind to share the information, it's feasable.

There is now a new version with a one-push ejection cycle, which is a big advantage.