How I rescued a Yashica 44 LM from being a bookshelf camera

 The shutter isn't working.

    I knew this could be an issue because the price I paid for it was half the amount for the same camera from other vendors. This camera came from a state sale, and since it had the original leather case, I thought I might be lucky enough to get it in working condition. Still, I wasn't.

    The self-timer was activated, and it probably jammed the shutter mechanism. It seems if the M/X lever is in the M position and you activate the self-timer you'll damage the shutter mechanism. After an initial inspection, I realized that this is precisely what had happened. Somebody tried to make it work only to break it. 

    I identified the problem and was ready to open the camera, but the front cover only comes out if the self-timer lever is off. Since the lever was stuck, I had 2 choices, keep trying to move it and risk damaging the mechanism even more, or get rid of the self-timer forever. I picked the second choice and cut it using the Dremel. Once open, I watched and followed Mikeno62's Yashica 44 shutter repair YouTube video. Even though the model is not the same, the mechanism inside is very similar. After a few hours of cleaning and moving pieces, I was finally able to fix the problem. Also, I got rid of the self-timer mechanism to avoid having the same issue in the future. Thanks, Mikeno62! 

A working camera that uses a dead film format. 

    Before somebody tells me, "you can get 127 ReraPan films online," I know I can, but if the price of the film is more expensive than a roll of 120, it is not something I'm interested in buying. The other option is to buy cut 120 film into 127 spools for 40% more of the value of the same film stock in 120. So, not an option as well. But what about 35mm? Is there a way to use 35mm film in this camera? actually, there is, and it's easier than using 35mm film in a Baby Rolleiflex

Yashica 44 LM 35mm conversion

    There is a simple modification to fit a 35mm canister inside the Yashica 44. You can find a YouTube video explaining step by step how to mod a Yashica 44-series camera to use 35mm film, but considering my previous experience attempting to do the same with a Baby Rollei I thought I could make some upgrades to get more consistent results with the camera.

1. Upgrading the washers

Why? Because even though the conversion works, I would rather have something that doesn't depend on tape to stay in place. If the washers are not set in the right place, the canister can tilt to one side, which is gonna make all your horizon lines tilted, and in some extreme cases, the film will not stay flat across the film plane, and you end up getting stuff like this

How? I recently got a 3D Printer, so I designed a small piece that fits tightly to keep the film canister in place. 

From the sketchbook to the printer

From the printer to the camera

2. Keeping the film centered on the take-up spool

Why? Pretty much the same reason as before, to keep the horizon lines straight. Once you already have the canister perfectly centered, you can still get tilted horizon lines if your film doesn't wind in the center of the 127 spool. 

This problem can also affect the focus plane if one side is tighter than the other, you'll get one part out of focus like this

How? I designed a small piece to put at each side of the take-up spool to help as a guide to keeping the film centered.

I added double-sided tape to make sure the piece stayed in place. You can also glue it using super glue. 

A simple design that gets the job done.

The Results

You can check the complete roll here: Flickr Album

I hope this helps somebody else to rescue another Yashica 44 from being a bookshelf camera.  


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