Funky Medium Format Film Photography Tip

The web is full of photography tips film or digital. One of the things people really seem to dig are film tips that use non-photography items.

Sometimes you see this posed as questions like: “What’s the most unusual thing in your camera bag?” Other times it’s almost the whole DIY Photography genre from lighting to building your own camera.

Well here’s an off the wall tip using a very non-photography related item: a Scrunchi!

Some medium format cameras have interchangeable backs. This allows you to load several up and just change backs when a roll is finish. It’s faster than reloading a back.

Most cameras with interchangeable backs have them set up so they are mid-roll changeable. That is you can shoot, say 6 frames on a roll, slide in a cover, remove the back, put a different back on, pull the cover and start shooting.

Mid-roll changeable backs were a great advancement for event photographers where they might be shooting outside at 100iso but then go indoors and need 400iso. You can also switch between color and black and white, or daylight or tungsten balanced film. There’s many possibilities for a film photographer that’s not locked into one roll of film.

One downfall of changeable backs is that they require an extra light seal around that cover. The cover’s name is a “dark slide.” It’s a thin piece of metal that slides in to keep the light out when a roll is partially shot.

Now that some of the cameras are getting on in years some of the light seals aren’t as dependable as they once were. While they might not fail completely they may just “leak” a little light. Even a little is too much. Light leaks more easily when the opening for the dark slide is subject to bright light like direct sunlight.

My band aid for minor light leaks, or even the possibility of such, is the scrunchi. It’s almost the perfect solution. Just wrap the Scrunchi around the dark slide slit to help keep light off it. It’s pretty convenient. It’s like a thick, black, cloth, rubber band so you can still remove or replace the dark slide without removing it completely. Normally it doesn’t interfere with any of the functions of the camera. Scrunchi’s are readily available and inexpensive. A 2 pack at Walmart is only $0.88!

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Admittedly the right thing to do is to send the backs out to have the seals replaced. Due to time or money it may not be the easiest option for many.

I use this little photography hack mostly with my older Koni-Omega 6×7 range finder. Some of the backs look they have a lot of miles on them and it’s just an extra precaution.

Here’s the Koni-Omega with the dark slide pulled partially out:

Koni-Omega 200

With the Scrunchi helping to cut the light to the dark slide slit:

Koni-Omega 200 with a scrunchiTweet this tip!

While I don’t usually use the Scrunchi technique with my Bronica SQa, it worked just as a proof of concept so it should be good for Hasselblads, Mamiyas, etc.

Bronica SQaBronica SQa with scrunchi

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