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edmund j. kowalski | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Ansco Panda for 35mm tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Ansco Panda for 35mm

The Ansco Panda is a tiny little medium format twin lens reflex camera from the 1940s. It was designed to use 620 roll film, which is the same width and spacing as size 120 film, but with smaller diameter spools. 620 spool size has been obsolete for decades.
I decided to convert one of my Pandas for use with readily available 35mm film.
This Panda now features a masque, made up of stiff celluloid plastic covered with black vinyl shelf liner, taped over the frame area, following the curved film "plane", with an opening about 30 centimeters high and 55 centimeters wide. Main reason for this modification is to maintain the curve, to keep the focus reasonable.
The rear frame counting window is blacked out with thin black foam and several layers of electrical tape. 35mm film lacks the opaque backing of 120 and 620 films.
Two thick pads of foam weather strip border the area where the 35mm film cartridge will sit, on the supply side.
The winding crank has a black dot on top near the edge to mark position. For the first two exposures, 2 and a half turns of the knob, then two turns each exposure after that as the film gets thicker on the takeup spool, will allow advance without overlap.
Closing the back is not really any problem, I just have to hold the 35 cartridge in against the spring, and slide the back up and on, guiding it into the grooves at the top end.
All modifications are easily reversible.

On Friday January 26 I loaded up with a roll of ASA 200 35mm film, Chinese "Special Moments" brand, thawed from home freezer stock. Then I exposed the roll on my excursion to the Transportation Museum, testing the Panda in a side by side shoot with my Argus Model B. See:

https://pbase.com/edkowalski/argusb

The Panda allowed me 10 exposures before I reached end of roll.
Film was taken to local minilab. It had to be "develop negative strip only," since the automation of the print machine could not decipher the odd formatting.
Scanning the negatives (each frame approx. 30 mm x 55 mm) proved to be difficult as well with my Epson Perfection photo scanner. I tried every way I could think of, but the software's artificial intelligence was confused by image areas. Using the medium format masque, it had trouble setting image qualities. And using the 35 mm masques, it did better with the appearance, but insisted on doing strange crops on the various images, no two crops alike.
Below, see my best efforts at elliciting images.
Regarding uneven sharpness in the images: Remember, the camera has no pressure plate!

These images are 2007 E.J.Kowalski.
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