I am truly impressed with my Flexaret VI and as a result I decided to splash out on some accessories for it! One of the unique things about this model is that can also shoot 35mm film and to assist in this endeavour, those clever people at Meopta created a specific tool for the job.
The concept of shooting 35mm film in a medium format camera has been around for a while but it usually involves fitting a couple of adapters to hold the 35mm cassette and either feeding the exposed film into another cassette or simply onto a 120 film spool. In these cases, the 35mm film is simply run across the normal ‘window’ resulting in the exposure covering the entire film including the sprocket holes. I am aware that some people like this effect but it is not for me! Meopta’s solution is far more sophisticated. (In my humble opinion!)
The basic kit for the Flexaret VI and VII comprises two adapters, that fit into the 120 film holder and securely hold a 35mm cassette. Then there is an mask attachment that fits snugly into the normal 6 x 6 frame. It includes a hinged flap that folds over the unexposed film ensuring that it is flat. from there, the film is transported to a specially designed spool for 35mm film that comes with the kit. The final part of the jigsaw is a mask that drops into place in the waist-level finder. It is marked 1M and 7M on opposite sides which I believe assists with parallax compensation. The entire kit comes in a small leather case.
I have deliberately used the word ‘basic’ in the previous paragraph because I am aware of another kit which I know fits the Flexaret VII and allows a variety of different formats to be shot, including 35mm and 6 x 45mm formats. I am not aware whether this will fit the Flexaret VI but suspect that it will. I will have to await the day when I get a Flexaret VII … which I almost certainly will! That is how impressed I am with this camera.
At this point, I wish that I had a video to show the installation of this adapter and how the 35mm film progresses through the camera. I will have to try and adequately describe the process in words but will include a couple of links to YouTube videos that show the process.
Once the film cassette is fitted, the leader is threaded under a small roller designed to accurately guide the 35mm film up to the gate fitted over the 6 x6 aperture. The film is passed over this gate and the hinged flap is lowered before the film leader is fitted into the specially designed take-up spool.
One of the problems frequently encountered with less sophisticated systems of using 35mm fil in a medium format camera is counting the number of frames. Meopta have a very unique method of dealing with this issue. Once the back of the camera is closed and the film wound on, the camera automatically detects 35mm film and ’35’ is shown in a little window. The film is continually wound on until the figure ‘1’ appears in the regular frame counter.
Next to the frame counter is a dial which starts by showing the number ‘0’. When turned, it goes on to show ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’. At this point, I have read differing accounts of how to proceed. In reality either method should work! The shots are taken and the film advanced until the frame counter shows either ’10’ or ’12’. The dial next to the frame counter is then rotated to the ‘1’ position and the routine is then repeated, the frame counter having reset to ‘1’. The process is repeated once the frame counter has hit ’10’ or ’12’. Again the dial is rotated to the ‘2’ position and the film advanced. Repeating this procedure again, should see the film fully exposed. Depressing the button in the centre of the wind-on knob allows the film to be rewound into its cassette, ready for removal.
I suspect that my attempts at describing the process of shooting 35mm film in a Flexaret VI may leave some confused. Again I have included a couple of links to videos that demonstrate the process at the end of this post.
Hang on! I haven’t finished yet! The more astute will recognise that using this adapter will only allow shots to be taken in portrait format unless one is something of a contortionist! This leads me neatly on to my second accessory, the 35mm Viewfinder which is specifically made to be attached to the camera’s accessory shoe.
The 35mm viewfinder has a dial for adjusting to different distances when framing a shot. by adjusting this dial it compensates for parallax. Taking landscape shots might still be difficult but in my opinion, is definitely more doable!
Suggested videos demonstrating the Meopta Flexkin 35mm Adapter
(13) Setting up a Flexaret with a 35mm film Adapter instead of 120 Medium Format roll film – YouTube
(13) Zakładanie filmu małoobrazkowego do Flexaret VI – YouTube This video is in the Czech language but is easy to follow and is the most complete that I have discovered.