My battles with Beirette SL 100N camera ;)


Hi guyz & girls. ;)

Today it’s time for reminding You the German total-plastic masterpiece – the Beirette SL 100N camera! :)
It was produced in DDR (East Germany) since 1987. It has an excellent design, if You like 80s style:
As You can see, it looks like being literally dedicated for lomography! :)

I bought one in 1987, in Germany, however we were children at that time, and my brother wanted so bad to check out what is inside of the machine – that he destroyed it, hahahah. ;)

A week ago I found exactly the same camera on our equivalent of ebay and I bought one! ;) (Even in the same – orange – colour!! ;) ). And……………… the postman brought it today!! ;)
It looks more/less like this:
A real beauty, isn’t it? ;)

In the usage it is very similar to Diana Mini: it has only 3 sets of distance/range and they are even not marked as metres, but as three pictures: for photographing a single person (bust), for photographing a group of people (longer distance) and finally the infinity that is marked here as ‘mountains’ picture. As for me – a fierce ;) Smena user – it’s a bit dangerously simple ;) but surely many people would even prefer such a simplicity and user-friendly policy of the producers and designers.
Actually the same goes for light/exposition settings. There are 3 only, also marked by small pictures: one for shooting in full sun, one for shooting while cloudy weather and finally the typical “B” setting (keeps the ‘lens stop’ open as long as You keep the shooting key pressed).
Even more – it seems to be very suitable for lomographers – good-looking and simple in usage! ;)

Another pic of the camera:

So that’s for advantages. However it has also some disadvantages, I’m afraid.
Although the device uses standard 35mm film, but sadly it doesn’t take the standard modern film-cassettes/cartridges that we so used to stick ;) into Diana Mini.
It use so-called rapid/SL cartridges that You can see here:
And You NEED to have TWO of them while buying the camera. because the film goes from one to another – and when You give the film to the laboratory, for processing, You must say them they must return the cassette/cartridge to You!

And now the problems start. Maybe not too big ones, but still.
This is how the open camera looks, with the rapid/SL cartridges put inside: (the one with film should be put on the right-hand side and the film goes to the left!).
You have to buy a 24-frames film and the tricky part is – You have to enter some dark room (if You have an actual darkroom, it’s even better ;) hahaha), I used my bathroom, to be honest. ;)
There, You have to pull-out about 60cm of the film (or a little bit more, to be sure everything will be OK) and… manually put in inside one of the rapid/SL cassettes (doesn’t matter which one).
The film rolls-up inside by itself but I have to warn You – it goes veeeeeery hard/tough. I made it today and I had several fits of raving madness before I managed to succeed.

Also, I’ve been told that while doing it (putting the film into the cartridge, not while having fits of raving madness ;) ) I shouldn’t and can’t actually touch the film – I can hold it only to edges/borders. Well, perforation maybe can be touched.
So – it was a failure. Putting the film inside the “rapid” was so hard that I simply had no other way but to hold the film in every possible ways, just to force it to get inside the cartridge, hahaha.
Some people suggested using some kind of gloves. (Kind of medical gloves maybe? Surely not the woollen ones, hehehe).

At the moment I sadly don’t know if the frame-counter should be set (after the film loading) into “0” or “12” (if it would count backwards). I should know it soon, so I’d add this information in comments.
However if You know any more useful informations about the Beirette SL 100N camera, feel free to write it in comments too.
Why the counter thing is important? We should be very careful about the film: it must NOT go entirely inside the cartridge!!!!!!!! (The lab must be able to pull it out, You know). Therefore I measured even more than 60cm of the film. When the counter will finally show “12” (or “0” if t works backward – hopefully we will know it soon) – we should stop shooting and take the film off the camera – even if there’s still some film left.
There will be some of the film wasted anyway, as we bought a 24-frames film after all, and it’s a little bit longer than 60cm: the part I has left was about 10cm-15cm long, so it’s no problem because not too much of the film is being wasted.

As for the making copies of photos from the film (in a lab) – there might be some problems: I’ve been told the Beirette makes probably a bit smaller photos than traditional cameras. Some labs have problems with it, as they make copies/reprints automatically and are prepared for standard size only.
However we can give the film just to process, and then we can simply scan photos at home. We prepare them as we like and only then give them on a CD, to the lab, for making photo-copies. Maybe it would be some solution.
Anyway I know I will try to do so.

That would be all and I hope it will be useful for You guyz. ;)

Also I think that the Lomography Society should consider this machine as their next ‘revived/cloned’ camera. ;)
Of course if it’s possible to make some small construction changes in it, to redesign it for using standard film-cartridges.

PS: When I have any photos from the camera and the film I was “torturing” ;) today, I will put them into my profile probably. ;)

written by yerzmyey on 2013-06-13


  1. yerzmyey
    yerzmyey ·

    Hi there!
    Thanx to von Flatscheck we have the missing infos now:

    We suspected correctly about the counter - it counts backwards. That mean that after You load the film, You have to set the counter into "12" (seems strange, I know - as far as we know the camera STILL makes 24 photos). When the counter finally shows "1", then the film ends. Of course one should still take 2 'empty' photos, to save the last proper one from overexposure. :)

  2. erbswurst
    erbswurst ·

    Nice description of a funny camera. There have been 4 different colours of this one plus the black SL100 (without N) which had a slightly faster aperture but apart from this is the same camera.

    I always use a 36 frame film cut in half - that's about the amount a SL-cassette can eat, if you force more film in it there might be problems when transporting the film from one cassette to the other during exposure.
    It is not possible to push the film too far in because as soon as the little metal hook that transports the film doesn't reach any sprockets anymore the transport stops and there is still 1 cm or so left outside the cartridge. It is also possible to load an old and empty film roll with the exposed film to give it to the lab for processing - many labs will throw the cartridges away, at least here in Germany they will. Another reason for self-processing! :-)
    Have fun with the Beirette!!

  3. yerzmyey
    yerzmyey ·

    Thanks a lot for the additional information!! :) I'm very grateful!
    Also another one - seems like the Rapid/Karat cartridges are made of metal and the SL ones are made of plastic.
    Anyway, it's a really good news that the film cannot actually be "fully eaten" ;) by the cartridge. :)
    Best regards!! :)

  4. yerzmyey
    yerzmyey ·

    Argh - only one photo was successful. ;) Some record, isn't it? ;)
    So the camera might be broken or I am such a crap lomographer. :)
    Will test on another film in some time. :)