instantphoto.eu              Mamiya Universal Instax Wide Back

As Polaroid peel-apart film isn't produced any longer and even Fuji ended the production of its pack 100 film, there are only 2 solutions for instant photography with a Mamiya Universal: Polaroid 600 film or Fuji Instax. I have made a back for Polaroid 600 film, but it has a major snag:
the picture is double inversed (top-bottom, left-right) as there is no mirror. Polaroid cameras have a mirror between the lens and the photo. You can see this back here. The link opens in a new window. I also had an Instax back made from a Lomo Belair back. As the Polaroid 600 back,  it had not enough room for a dark slide. So there were three options if you want to interchange lenses: you loose one photo, you pull out the cartridge in the dark and push the cardboard dark slide on top of it or you interchange optics in a sleeve. As it couldn't eject the photo towards the top because of the viewer, the broarder frame was on the top of the picture. You can see this back here. The link opens in a new window. If you want more information about the Mamiya system in general, please refer to these pages (will open in a new window as well).

This is a new attempt for an Instax back, it's a manual one. The Lomo Belair back is no longer available and used items sell at fancy prices. Motorized hacks on the basis of an Instax Wide camera are mostly ugly hacks and do not have a dark slide as well. And - as on all solutions until now - ejection is towards the bottom, so the photos have the broad margin at the top. This new back has a dark slide and with a small modification of the viewer, it can eject towards the top. It's just, but it works. And yes, it focusses to infinity without a problem. There is another big advantage of this back: the housing is 3D print, but the rollers and their gear are from Fuji Instax cameras. There were attempts to 3D print gearing and rollers, but it does not give satisfying results yet. The tolerances for Instax film are very narrow and there is quite some pressure applied by the rollers. The rollers are the weak point of most non-Fuji Instax cameras, the Jollylook and the Escura project had to learn this the hard way.

Some pictures of the back:

What you get: a back with a proper dark slide and an eyepiece for the finder modification.

Seen from the back. Sober design.

Back open.

Original Fuji parts inside. The back flap is held by neodyne magnets,

Dark slide and Mamiya Universal type "claws".

Ejection slot.

The back can be mounted either way, ejection towards the bottom, if you want to keep your old finder, or towards the top. I this case a modification of the finder is necessary. The finder loses magnification, but it's still usable. A page how to modify the finder is here. It will open in a new window.

Camera and modified finder.

Left side. Ejection handle and lever to push the photo towards the rollers.

Right side. Dark slide.

Top. Ejection slot. The photo just slides along the modified viewer.

Back side.

Bottom. The back is not longer than the body, so you can easily mount the camera on a tripod.

A Mamiya Universal with a Fuji Instax back and the 65mm lens mounted. Around the camera from right to left: 50mm, 75mm, 90mm, 100m F3.5, 127mm, 150mm and 250mm F5. All lenses are coupled to the rangefinder. There is a 100m F2.8, which will show slightly dark edges as it just covers 6x9, and a 250mm F8, the latter not coupled to the rangefinder. I do not own these.

So let's have a look at the lenses and the results. The
pictures were taken on an extremely sunny day, aperture an speed are noted on the margins. View from my atelier over the roofs of Cologne. Taken on 9 years expired from 2011. The film is quite usable still:

Camera with 50mm lens. Lens, camera and film weigh 1950 gr.

50mm picture. There are slightly dark edges due to a light trap at the bottom of the camera. You can get rid of this trap with no problem for further use.
An indication how to modify the trap is here, at the bottom of the page. It will open in a new window.

Picture with trap removed. Extremely sunny and hazy day. Some typical wide angle fall-off. I will do the photo again later.

65mm lens. 1690 gr.This is the smallest lens, a nice couple for street photography.

65mm photo. As for the 50mm t
here are slightly dark edges due to a light trap at the bottom of the camera.

Picture with trap removed. Extremely sunny and hazy day. Some typical wide angle fall-off. I will do the photo again later.

75mm lens. 1960gr.

75mm picture.

90mm lens. 1740gr. This is a battered 60s lens.

90mm picture.

100mm lens. 1820gr.

100mm picture. Overcast. Should have been F32. You can see the limits of the lens covering. It would be worde with the 100mm F2.8, which covers a smaller circle.

127mm lens. 1810gr.

127mm picture.

150mm lens. 1860gr.

150mm picture. There are light traps in the lens barrel, slightly visible on the upper left edge.

250mm lens. 3160 gr(!). You carry a lens with camera attached.

250mm picture.
There are light traps in the lens barrel, slightly visible on the upper edges. You could modify them in case of. I do not have the massive shade of this lens. The lens is prone to flare, a spot is visible.

Handling this back is fine. It has a sober design and feels very solid. It attaches either way and the "claws" are solid as well. The rollers give superb results, they are better than those of the Lomo Belair. Having a dark slide is a HUGE advantage, you can change lenses as often as you want in full daylight. After having taken a photo, just move the slider up and turn the handle clockwise. The photo will eject easily. Infinity is spot on. There are no light leaks.

There is no counter, so either you have a good memory or you take notes. I am very pleased with this back. I bought it off Ebay, but the seller has now his own shop at zluxtech.com, he accepts PayPal, so no problem with this. He is Chinese, based in Shenzhen. It's made and delivered on command, which was only a few days. Having this back is a major progress for me.