35mm Camera Half Frame Conversion. Updated With Photos.




About: Graphic Design, Photography, Scale models, Sculpting, Plamo, Gundam models, Toy collecting.

I recently picked up a Vivitar IC 400 Focus free camera at a thrift store for $2. I was planning to use its huge viewfinder for another project but as I was taking it apart, I noticed I can easily convert this camera into a half-frame camera! I’m a big fan of half-frame cameras so I ended up keeping the camera and sparing it from destruction. I haven’t tested the camera yet, but in theory it should work. It should work with any other camera with a similar design.

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Step 1: Taking It Apart.

Take the Vivitar IC 400 camera apart. On the back of the camera, there are two screws on the left holding it together. After removing them you can take apart the front and back of the camera’s case by pulling it apart from the left side.
Remove the film counter dial and the viewfinder housing. All we need is the film advance wheel. Be careful to not lose the spring under it.

Step 2: Modding the Film Advance Wheel.

To make the camera advance half a frame, we’ll need to add a 2 pins to the bottom of the advance wheel (See photo). Make sure the pins mirror each other. I used aluminum pins but toothpicks can be an alternative.

Step 3: Masking the Film Plane.

Put the camera back together and cut two plastic sheets with the dimensions of 24mm x 8.5mm and glue them to the film plane. This will mask the full-frame into a half-frame. Using the black plastic from a DVD case would work but I only had white styrene plastic. I didn't have time to spray paint it black, so I used black tape and sharpie.

Step 4: Finished.

Mask the viewfinder with black tape so the view becomes a half frame viewfinder. Add seals to film door if you want. I sealed mine with black yarn.

Load film and go shoot!

Step 5: Results.

The mod worked and the photos came out half-frame!
Some of the photos came out too close to each other, so I will need to the tweak the film plane mask abit. There should be a small gap between each photo.

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    9 Discussions


    2 months ago

    I'm extremely curious if you could do this with a more capable camera. I'm a big fan of half frame and there's only a handful of half frame SLRs and I would love to do this something like a Zenit.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Well spotted notch on the advance gear.
    The big viewfinder hints that its a wide angle lens in the camera ,your pics also seen to indicate this., usefull if cutting down to half frame.
    An idea ,you could put some marks in the viewfinder on the glastic to denote the frame edge [<>] when composing a shot.
    I like your overlapping frames.great work and commendations conveyed for finding the potential in an easily overlooked camera.
    how about making a 1/3 frame version?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thanks for pointing it out! I should have shown it in the instructables, I masked the viewfinder with black tape.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    sorry for asking this dumb question, but could you further explain on how i could make those plastic pieces from a DVD cover? thank you!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, I really like this! I have no particular need to save film, but I like the idea of having 72 exposures without changing film.

    It is nice to see someone taking time to figure this out and document it so clearly.

    Do you think it would be possible to modify this or any other toy camera to be able to switch from half frame to full frame and back on the same roll?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! It should work on other simple cameras with similar design. Some cameras only use gears and that makes it impossible, unless you know how to change the gear ratios. I opened the walgreens forever camera and the design is different. It's possible to convert it to half-frame, but it would require a lot of work and timing. You would also need to add to tiny pegs and also change the shape of the shutter cocking lever. I don't think that camera is worth all the work. I checked out your instructables and they're great! I wonder if your vivitar wide and slim can be modded too, it looks a lot smaller than my camera!