Monday, January 20, 2014

Tutorial: How to shoot 35mm sprocket photos in a Rolleiflex

I've been eating painkillers and muscle relaxants like candy for the last couple days, after straining my back snowboarding. It wasn't as glamorous or epic as you would think either - I only got 1.5 runs in before it happened. Pathetic. Anyways, on to the photo goodness.

These shots were taken through the Rolleiflex TLR, but with 35mm film instead of 120. The whole process was a royal pain in the ass, but also quite fun if you're into shooting alternative film formats.

Rolleiflex Sprocketography

Rolleiflex Sprocketography

70mm Rolleiflex-1

Tutorial: How to shoot 2x 35mm film in a Rolleiflex TLR

1) Tape film leader from one 35mm roll onto 120 spool (butt the edge tightly to one side).
2) Tape film leader from a second 35mm roll onto the same 120 spool (butt the edge tightly to the other side of the spool, thereby fully covering the 120 spool end to end. The two rolls will overlap in the middle.
3) Move operation into a film changing bag (no light!)
4) Fully spool both rolls of 35mm film onto the 120 spool, and remove the 35mm cannisters with scissors. This will leave you with 2 loose ends of film hanging off the spool.
5) Tape the loose film ends onto a 120 takeup spool, butting up against both edges to fully cover the entire width.
6) Load the take-up spool and the feed spool into the Rollei as per normal 120 film. Note, do NOT feed under the metal roller to trip the film counter. This way, you don't waste any film advancing to the number 1 frame as you would do for 120.
7) Close up back, and fire away! You just have to guess how much to advance before your next shot.

Questions? Drop me a line in the comments.


  1. Can't imagine pulling this off by myself, but this trick is so awesome! :)

  2. i definitely want to try this. nice job!

  3. Thanks! April, you can definitely pull it off. It's not difficult at all, just takes a bit of prep. If you need help or more details, let me know. Jeff: get on it! Can't wait to see some results from you.

  4. hey! how many photos you can get?

    1. Really depends - if you're using 36 exp rolls or 24 exp rolls. Also depends on how much you wind between shots. With the Rollei, you can just give the crank 1/3 of a turn for the first few frames, and then reduce to 1/4 turns as you go. Not really a science, more trial and error. I got about 10 frames worth on mine, but I wound way more than I needed to between frames.