Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tutorial: How to Shoot Instax Mini film through a Rolleiflex

This is a quick tutorial on how to shoot Fuji Instax Mini film through a Rolleiflex TLR (no hack required). Non photogeeks can skip the text here and just look at the pictures.

First: Why bother?! Yes, you can just buy a Fuji Instax Mini camera and fire away. But those don't give you manual controls, you work with slower lenses, and you have no control over the onboard flash. Using a Rolleiflex means full manual control, Zeiss glass, and access to any lighting setup you want via flash sync (if you want).

Things you will need:
-A pack of Instax Mini Film
-A Rolleiflex or other TLR.
-A dark place, or light tight film changing bag
-A set of rollers to run your print through

Steps to shooting instant awesomeness through your Rollei:

1) Place Rolleiflex and Pack of Instax film inside a film changing bag
2) Manually eject the dark slide from the Instax pack (use your fingers and gently guide it out the side)
3) Manually eject one exposure in the same way.
4) Open up the back of the Rollei, and place the instax exposure in the back, where film would normally sit to be exposed, then close up the back. Note - orientation is important. What you think of as the 'back' of an instax photo is the light sensitive part. So the 'back' of the print needs to face forward when inside the camera.
5) Take Rollei out of film changing bag, and expose as normal. Box speed of Instax Mini film is ISO 800.
6) Return Rollei to film changing bag, open back and remove Instax exposure.
7) Run the Instax exposure through rollers to squeeze chemicals out to start developing. This is a clumsy process, so I cheat - I reinsert the exposure into a pack of Instax film, and then eject the exposure through a Diana Instax Back (it pushes the exposure out through a set of rollers triggering the development of the print evenly). You can get away without this, but it will be harder.
8) Watch in awe as image magically appears before you eyes.


*In case it wasn't clear, all handling of the Instax film (loading, unloading, etc) MUST be done in the dark (film changing bag or a completely darkened room). This is a pain, and is not convenient. But INSTANT PHOTOS! FROM A ROLLEIFLEX TLR!

The Rolleiflex Insant Camera
Above: Cactus Trigger, and Nikon SB800 (hidden behind me) bounced off the ceiling.

Below: No speed light. Bathroom incandescent lights were the sole light source.
The Rolleiflex Insant Camera-2

If you still have questions, drop me a line in the comments.

Update: I googled and found everyone links to a page that shows a 'hack' for a Rolleiflex TLR with a tintype back. Note, there really is no need to hack your Rollei - you get the same result this way by simply placing the film inside the regular back of the camera. The only difference is that the tintype back will ensure your Instax frame will be consistently straight and upright (no tilt). You can get similar results simply by using some gaffers tape along the inside edges of your rollei to create a sort of guide rail that you would just butt your Instax frame's edge against before closing the back up.


  1. ohhh... the possibilities... I just did some quick test fits and Instax Wide fits nicely in a 4x5 sheet film holder, just gotta figure a way to hold it in place, (I'm thinking weak double sided tape). I've also got a 6x9cm sheet film holder that Instax Mini film slides into with no resistance at all, not to mention a Linhof 6x7 back that I could use for single shots... Have you tried the Pentax 67 yet? ohhh...

    You're full of great ideas George, I'm gonna buy you a double whisky next time I see you.


  2. Hey Cody! I'm glad you're as excited about this as I am. I shot one through a Holga, which didn't look all that good (no surprise). Thought about the Pentax 6x7, but I have a roll of Neopan currently spooled in it, so have to finish that first. We need to go out and shoot. I was talking to Chris recently about doing a drink and shoot type competition. Take a shot, then take a shot. Seriously, this needs to happen.