Half-Frame Fun With La Sardina


The super-wide lens and arbitrary rewind features of La Sardina makes it a serious half-frame contender. Learn more after the break.

Some Background

The Lomographic Society has a couple of half-frame offerings. The half-frame format is very interesting for a few reasons. Half-frame is actually the oldest 35mm film format. 35mm film was used for shooting movies before it was used in still cameras. The film ran vertically through the camera and projector and each individual frame was the size that we now call half-frame. Later, someone decided to run it horizontally through a still camera and make each frame twice as wide to get a landscape format. That format caught on and became the standard 35mm film format. Some time after that, camera manufacturers started producing half-frame still cameras that were actually producing frames that were the same size as the original 35mm film frame, but in portrait mode instead of landscape mode. It was common to design half-frame cameras to be held sideways so that they could produce a landscape mode image.

The primary advantage of half-frame cameras is the ability to shoot twice as many pictures on the same size roll as a standard 35mm camera. Another advantage of half-frame cameras is their size. They can be much smaller and lighter than standard 35mm cameras. Half-frame was actually a very popular format for a while, but it couldn’t overcome two disadvantages. First, a smaller frame meant poorer resolution. Many films of the time had very large grain structure (or dye clouds in color), which meant that you couldn’t enlarge half-frame negatives as much as you could full-frame negatives without them being really “fuzzy”. Another issue with half-frame cameras was exactly the same issue that many digital cameras have today – the crop factor. A smaller sensor means that the same size lens will act as if it has a longer focal length. A half-frame camera has a crop factor of about 1.33×. What this means is that it is difficult to make wide-angle lenses for half-frame cameras. Most of them had “normal” to telephoto lenses even when they had much shorter focal length lenses. For instance, a 32mm lens like the one on the LC-A+ will act like a 42mm lens on a half-frame camera. 32mm is wide, but 42mm is “normal”.

The Lomographic Society makes two cameras that can shoot in half-frame mode. The Diana Mini has a 24mm lens. When you use half-frame mode on the MINI her lens works like a 32mm on a standard 35mm camera. That’s the same perspective as the LC-A+. This is a very big deal. Only a couple of other half-frame cameras have ever had such a wide-angle lens. The LC-Wide also has a half-frame mode. The LC-Wide has a 17mm lens. That means that in half-frame mode the LC-Wide has the same perspective as a 23mm on a standard 35mm camera! This is amazingly awesome. No other half-frame camera has ever done that – not ever the pricey Olympus Pen half-frame SLRs with interchangeable lenses. Personally, I don’t think the LC-Wide is a good replacement for the LC-A+, but I do think it’s possibly the best half-frame camera ever made.

But, what does this have to do with La Sardina? La Sardina has a 22mm lens. If we can get it to work as a half-frame camera it would have the same perspective as a 29mm lens on a standard 35mm camera. That’s not as good as the LC-Wide, but it’s better than the Diana Mini, and it has lots of other features that would make it a great half-frame camera – “B” mode, multiple-exposures, great flash, etc.

So what’s the trick? The trick is to modify the inside so that the camera only exposes half of a frame at a time, then figure out a way to advance the film just enough so that the frames don’t overlap – unless you want them to, but that’s another tipster. Fortunately, La Sardina has the perfect rewind mechanism to let us do this. You can rewind the film in La Sardina by any amount at any time – similar to the Sprocket Rocket, for which this trick will also work by the way. There are other cameras that let you do this, but when you’re rewinding with La Sardina the proper tension is maintained on both spools and, most importantly, you can see how much you’re rewinding by watching the film advance knob.

The Tipster

First you need to create a half-frame mask inside the camera using black electrical tape like this:

Notice that the opening is about as wide as the area where the viewfinder connects to the camera.

Next, you can optionally mask the viewfinder like this:

This step is optional, but doing it will allow you to properly frame your subject.

Now, load the camera like you normally would, but when you shoot do the following:

  1. Shoot your half-frame shot. Remember to hold your camera sideways if you want a landscape mode picture.
  2. Look at the film advance knob. Remember where it is. Think of the hour hand on a clock.
  3. Advance to the next frame until it stops. Watch the film advance knob to see how far it turns. This will reset the shutter and it will allow you to see how much you have to rewind for the next step. With your first shots, the knob will turn more than one complete revolution. With your last shots, it will turn less than one complete revolution. Pay attention to how much it turns.
  4. Rewind half a frame. Watch the film advance knob while you’re doing it and think about how far the knob turned. For example, if the film advance knob started at 12:00 and ended at 12:00, you know that you should rewind until it’s at 6:00.

That’s it. Now, just repeat those steps for each picture. It really isn’t that hard once you get the hang of it.

This is what the film strip will look like when you shoot in half-frame:

Here are some shots it took using this tipster. Note that the landscape shots have a cinematic look to them. That’s because they are the same aspect ratio as the first 35mm films.

Get ready to sail the high seas with our new La Sardina collection! These 35mm cameras are equipped with spectacular wide-angle lens, multiple exposure capabilities, and a rewind dial—everything you need for fun-filled and thrill-soaked escapades. Get your own La Sardina camera now!

written by gvelasco on 2012-01-05 #gear #tutorials #camera #tipster #modification #half-frame #camera-modification #la-sardina


  1. ceschot
    ceschot ·

    Awesome! I will definitely try this!!

  2. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    clap clap clap!

  3. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Thanks. This will also work with square frame, but calculating the amount to rewind is just a little bit trickier. You need to rewind by 1/3 instead of 1/2. Maybe I'll do that as another trickster. ;-)

  4. iamtheju
    iamtheju ·

    That looks really good. I love half frame shots, there's just something about that retro filmstrip look.
    I wonder if you could play your film with one of those LomoKinoscope things.
    I might do an all landscape roll on my Diana Mini and find someone with a Kinoscope I can borrow!

  5. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    That's a good idea, but I don't think it would work. The Lomokino is a 1/4 frame format, not 1/2 frame.

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