Another project I had in mind was to do with my "beast". I enjoy shooting with it but the bulk and weight of carrying it around really bothers me. Its actually not as heavy as my old Hassy but the huge rectangular shape of the camera means I could only use 2 of my current larger camera bags that could hold it whenever I go out and shoot. Its a pain the arse to carry such large camera bags at certain location.
I could remove the lens and 120 film back and pack them seperately but this means whenever I reach a location. I need to unpack it and hang it on my neck for the rest of the day until the shoot it over. If I need to move to another location, I need to pack it again. Which is slow and tedious. I can't just throw the whole damn thing into my bag and move on.
Even my Lowepro backpack can't fit the camera with lens and back properly. It's really fustrating. I read about converting the camera to a light weight flat top version over here and I decided to operate on my spare Super 23 body.
The reasons I chose the 23 over the Universal is 2 fold. Firstly, I could only shoot film on it and I tend to use the camera more like a view camera rather than a Rangefinger. Secondly, it has a bellow which I find it to be more useful in shooting as a view camera. I would have more control over the perspective I want to shoot.
The mod was quite simple yet destructive. I unscrewed the top and removed the RF unit block. It has only 3 screws holding onto it. I then removed most of the levers and parts left and then here the tough part. The front metal frame holding the glasses for the RF window. The glasses were actually glued to the frame so I use som flat tip screwdirvers and tore them off. I kept the RF block and the various screws, springs and levers as spare parts for my Universal. I then send the camera to a local metal workshop and asked the guy to cut off the top part of the camera for 20 baht (I gave him 50 baht after the did a fantastic job of filing off the sharp corners.
I then took some modelling epoxy clay and filled out the holes on the top to prevent light leaks. Then I just painted over the exposed metal with black paint from my leftover model paints. Viola! A much smaller, squarer and lighter "Beast".
Comestically, the top part still looks a bit wierd. Maybe later I will look for a piece of aluminium to cover it up but at the moment, it sure is a lot neater to pack in my bag. I could even fit it in my Thinktank 35 Urban Disguise!
Lastly, I took 2 old cheap and underutilzed Chinese lens plate (markins compatible) and screwed them on the side and bottom, Making it convinient for me to attach it to my tripod. This modified 23 will surely be deployed very often soon :)