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Modification of a Yashica 44 TLR for use of 35mm film

by M. Feuerbacher 2011

The Yashica 44 is a nice twin lens reflex camera producing a 4 cm x 4 cm image on 127 film. Unfortunately this type of film is discontinued by most, if not all manufacturers.

In this article I provide instructions how to modify the Yashica 44 so that it accepts ordinary 135 film. Of course, on this film you will expose the sprocket hole area, but this will give the images a very nice touch. The modification is very simple, all you need is a screwdriver. And it is fully reversible.

Here we go: Open the back door and locate the two marked scews.

Remove the film roller.


In the back door there is a window, which is required to set the film to the first exposure when 127 film is used. The window is protected by a slider in the back door, but it is not light thight. For 127 film this is not critical as it is protected by the back cover sheet, but for 35mm film the window needs additional sealing.

This can easily be done by putting some black felt, cloth or neoprene under the film pressure plate.


I use a piece of camera leather to seal the window.


Thats all for the modifications of the camera.

Now cut off the first couple of sprocket holes of the 35mm film so that it can be attached to the take-up spool.


You also need a spacer to fill up the upper film chamber as a 127 roll film spool is a little wider than a 35mm film.

I use two 3 cents (Euro) held together by Scotch tape.


Now you are ready to insert the film. Enter the capsule into the upper chamber together with the spacer.

The left hand side stands up a bit due to the pressure roller down in the chamber, but it will set as soon as you close the back door.


Then attach the film end into the take up spool and fondle it into the lower chamber. Close the back door - thats it.


There are some points, of course, you have to take care of:

  • Using 35mm film, you are left without a functioning film counter. Therefore you have to figure out, how far you have to turn the film transport weel for each frame. You can do this by using a test film with the back open. Make marks on the film and note how far you have to turn for one frame. For the first frames you need about 1.5 turns.
  • There is one more problem, however: the film is transported by movement of the take-up spool, but the more exposures you have made, the larger becomes the diameter of the take-up spool. Therefore, the length of film transported at each turn of the transport wheel increases over the film. Accordingly, the number of turns of the transport wheel has to be decreased in order to achieve equal frame spacing.
  • Since the Yashica 44 TLR is a roll film camera, there is no rewind mechanism. This means, when the film is full you have to take it out of the camera in the dark.