I picked up a new camera recently, the Ikko Sha Start 35k. It was completely an impulse buy from Kamerastore, it’s not a camera I have ever heard of before and I could find very little about it online—and in a way that was part of the appeal. I just saw it and thought, ‘I want it!’
The original Start 35 was made by the Ikko Sha Co. Ltd. of Japan and launched in 1950. My model, the 35k, was introduced in 1952, and in 1958 Ikko Sha released the model 35k mark 2. The Ikko Sha 35k is the simplest 35mm camera I have ever seen, it features a fixed aperture and a single shutter speed (and ‘B’). Put simply it’s a 35mm box camera, albeit with less features than the 1920s Kodak Brownie Nº 2.
The Ikko Sha takes 35mm film, but as a 12-exposure paper-backed roll, like 120 film not in a cassette. My original plan to test and use the camera was to roll some exposed 35mm film onto the reels and see how many turns of the film advance were required to move from one frame to the next. However, there was one major flaw in my plan: I don’t have any.
Until now, apart from one broken 35mm roll that I loaded into my Sprocket Rocket, I have only been using 120 roll film. So, I thought that I could take the paper backing from a roll of 120 film (I normally ask the lab to return the paper backing and the 120 spools when processing) and cut this to fit onto the Ikko Sha spool.
Cutting 120 paper to 35mm was straightforward enough, and I rolled nearly the whole length of the paper backing onto a Bolta spool. I wound the remainder of the paper onto the take-up spool and loaded it into the camera.
I marked the width of the frame onto the paper (40mm) and made two spots onto the film advance knob. I then wound the knob to see how many turns it would take to move the paper to the next frame, which was about one and three-quarter turns.
The 120 backing papers have numbers on them depending on the frame size of the camera you are using: 1—12 in 6×6 cameras, 1—8 in 6×9 cameras and 1—16 in 6×4.5 cameras. Rather than loading a 35mm film straight into the camera I wondered if I could respool the film onto the backing paper and use the numbers for the 6×4.5 frame size. The numbers were perfectly visible through the rear window, but with the difference in frame size on the Ikko Sha there was roughly a 15mm gap between frames.
For my first test I think that I’ll mock up another backing paper with properly spaced frame numbers for the Ikko Sha and see how easy it is to roll 35mm film onto backing paper and load it into the camera.