Note: This post was rescued from a long-forgotten and now disused section of the Filmwasters website, but at the cost of the images which originally accompanied this fine how-to, by 'Chemical' Al Cooper. Al dug up the original images after I posted the tutorial and posted them below. I then re-edited this piece to re-insert the images....which is whey there are two consecutive posts containing the same images. A Coronet 4-4 Mark II Mod: by Al Cooper
Old 127 cameras are in plentiful supply at boot sales, flea market, or on your preferred Internet auction site. They're often small, lightweight, simple plastic contraptions and they come in a remarkable variety of funky design. Unfortunately, even if you're lucky enough to find a ready supply of 127 format film it tends to hit the wallet pretty hard; you can normally buy two rolls of 120 for the cost of a single 127 roll. On top of that, there isn't a wide range of film flavours in the 127 format.
So if you have a specific 127 format camera (more about that in a minute), you want to use it, but you're looking for a cheaper alternative to 127 film you could try 35mm film instead. It's an obvious candidate as it isn't that much different in width to 127 and there's a much bigger selection to choose from. The bummer is that most 127 format cameras simply aren't big enough internally to hold a 35mm film canister, but there are a few prized 127 shooters that can, including one Olde English classic, the Coronet 4-4 Mark II; a very basic, albeit finely crafted plastic cam made in Birmingham, UK in the 1960s.
Broadly speaking, the Coronet is cut from the same cloth as the Diana, with its black plastic body and grey/blue top section. It has excellent toy camera credentials too; a plastic lens, a simple barrel mounted shutter, and, er...that's about it! They don't come much more basic (or beautiful) than this. Because of the smaller film format, the 4-4 somehow feels better in the hand than either than Diana or the Holga and once you've held one, you're hooked. If you're lucky, you may find a 4-4 still with its outstandingly rubbish brown plastic case, but with or without it, eBay auctions for Coronet 4-4 Mark IIs regularly end without a bid so you're almost guaranteed one for that special low, low price
Down to business then; lets get modding. Whip the back off your Coronet and remove the take-up spool. Trim the film leader from a roll of your chosen 35mm film and attach it securely to the take-up spool with tape; regular thin clear sticky tape is fine for this.
Now simply shove the 35mm canister into the left hand compartment. It's quite a snug fit, but, trust me, it will go in! Don't use any bits of foam or card to try to apply tension to the canister spool, as having slightly slack film is actually an advantage here. It will tend to follow a curve roughly equivalent to the original film plane of the camera. If the film is pulled tight across the frame window, it may be too close in the centre resulting in images that are in focus at the edge and out of focus in the centre. I'm sure there must be an application for that, but I can't think of one! Pull out some film and slot the take up spool into its normal position.
OK, now we're pretty much done, but there's one small problem. There's obviously no frame numbers to see through the re window so how do we count the frames? The Coronet has a rather natty ratchet wind on lever, which makes judging frames even more difficult than cameras with the more usual wind on knob (i.e the "34 Clicks" rule that you can use on a Holga). One way round this is to wing it; give it a good ten cranks for the first few frames, then decrease this as you go on - and enjoy the double exposures that probably still result.
For those of you who just have to do things the right way, there's another option - employ a sprocket hole clicker counter. For this I use curvy plastic cut from one of those plastic spiral document binder contraptions, but any bit of curved, thin, springy plastic will do. Cut a thin strip, about 2mm wide and then cut a point at one end.
Now stick this to the film plane springs on the back over of the camera so that the point sits in the centre of the red window. It's important to place it on the side shown in the photo or the film may tear. Lower the back onto the camera and check that the plastic point engages with a sprocket hole. If not, reposition the tape and try again.
As the film is wound on, you should be able to hear a click as the plastic rides up and into each sprocket hole. Count 10 clicks for each frame. Now all this is easier said than done, the camera's film advance mechanism is pretty noisy and it takes practice to recognise which noise is the click underneath the click (it's a bit like finding the man behind the man). You may decide not to bother with this refinement, but I think it's worth the effort as it saves film, gives excellent control over what you do and prevents accidental double exposures.
Finally, replace the back. The 35mm canister is a tight squeeze, the back should close but there will be some larger than normal gaps.
So it's time for your trusty black tape to see some action [The crowd rises to its feet in appreciation as Black Tape enters the arena at last]. Make sure you don't forget to tape over the red window very securely!
With that done, it's ready to shoot. You should get around 30 frames of sprocket holed fun out of a 36 exp roll of 135 (i.e. 35mm) film. When you've done, dismantle the camera in total darkness and wind the film back into the canister by hand. So far in my (limited) travels this is the only 127 format camera I've come across that will house a 35mm canister, if you find another, please let the world know about it!