Hacking a Bronica ETRS to Shoot Fujifilm Instax Film

All images by Brock Saddler. Used with permission.

“It’s really wonderful.” says photographer Brock Saddler about the image quality involved with his recent hacking of an Instax Mini back with his Bronica ETRS. “The sharpness and depth of field produced by real lenses on the stock is amazing and the ability to have shutter and aperture control from the body is another win.” Brock isn’t much of a person to talk about himself, and so he told us to make something up!

Photographer Brock Saddler started slaying dragons at the wee age of four years old. He continued to do this until one day his father gave him a camera. “With this tool, you will capture the hearts of everyone in the land!” he said to Brock.

And that’s how Brock didn’t really get into photography.

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Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

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Brock: I remember the first photo I took (for the intent of aesthetics rather than just capturing a moment) with my mother’s Kodak Easyshare 4 megapixel camera in 2004. It was just of some grass, but there was something about the feeling of creating something visually pleasing out of something that’s not much.

Phoblographer: What made you get into analogue shooting?

Brock: In grade school as most did, I studied photography and darkroom practices but it wasn’t until I did a diploma of photoimaging in 2009. It was just so heavily digital based, it was too easy, what you saw is what you got, and if you didn’t get it you can just fix it in post. Where was the rawness, the feel, the soul! The only button clicking I want to do is on the timer of my enlarger. Ever since then I have had a darkroom where ever I live and some sort of analogue camera at my side.

Phoblographer: So you’ve got a Bronica ETRS and you made a Fujifilm Instax back for it. What made you want to do this?

Brock: The Bronica ETR is my favourite system and when I finally realised that Instax mini was so closely sized to a 6×4.5 frame I had to see what I could do.

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Phoblographer: So far you’ve got this pretty much figured out with just a sliver of black on the image. Do you think there is a way with some sort of optic that you can make it deliver full 645 coverage?

Brock: Sure, I’ve heard the Lomography instax back for other camera types employs some sort of optic to help with coverage. It doesn’t really interest me though, not at this stage anyway.

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Phoblographer: What have been the biggest challenges with producing this?

Brock: Honestly this prototype was very easy. All I’ve done is torn apart the Instax right back to its shell, ditched all the electronic components from it, shaved off any pokey-outy bits then built it back up. I’ve used the ‘hooks’ from an old 120 back to hold the instax in the right position then an elastic band from one of those Fuji underwater disposable cameras to hold it to the body. This is the part that will cause the most headache with making the next version, having the ability to take it on/ off mid ‘roll’ as the ETRS has a quite sophisticated locking mechanism to ensure backs won’t come off mid shoot or without a darkslide inserted. The current felt I’m using as a light seal juts the back out around 3mm too much so focus is thrown out and is taking some to get used to/ compensate for, which will be another tough one to battle on the next version.

Phoblographer: What do you think of the results and the way that the lenses play with the film?

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Brock: It’s really wonderful. The sharpness and depth of field produced by real lenses on the stock is amazing and the ability to have shutter and aperture control from the body is another win. Instax mini is rated at 800 ISO so it’s a very versatile film. It does though have an extremely small latitude, you really have to nail the exposure otherwise the shadows block up and the highlights go bright white.

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