Selecting a film developing unit

A project log for L2 Camera

Fully manual twin-lens reflex instant film camera

Vladimir GorsheninVladimir Gorshenin 09/02/2020 at 12:260 Comments

After my proof-of-concept prototype gave reassuring results, I decided to start a full-scale project. At that moment I had a Lubitel camera with well-worn body and a Jollylook camera. These two cameras were supposed to provide all necessary components to make my hybrid: lenses, shutter, viewfinder and developing unit. And my goal was to design a functional camera body that incorporates all of the above components.

Firstly, I disassembled and examined both cameras. Lubitel cameras are of solid design: it is easy to overhaul it and then to re-align lenses. There are only few components that can fail and It seems that these cameras can work forever provided regular maintenance. This is a probable reason for the low quality of the cameras--they were supposed to be fixed by the buyers themselves. Jollylook is a controversial photographic device. On the one hand, the manufacturer marketed it as an "easily recyclable cardboard camera". On the other hand, the biggest part of the camera - the film developing unit - is made of plastic not cardboard and  therefore may be not recyclable (at least it has no recycle symbol). However, this is the part of the camera that I like the most.

Secondly, I realized that the Jollylook film developing unit is not a good fit for my design. The cons are:

Having only two pros (compact size and a crank handle that allows more even dragging out of film) against many cons, I decided to look for an alternative. Eventually I found one - a Kiipix "printer" that I bought used on Amazon for experimentation.

As I started my disassembly, the Kiipix appeared to me suspect as well: I questioned its practicality, but its design and quality remained attractive. I found the following pros:


After pondering Kiipix and Jollylook options, I chose the Kiipix film developing unit. I tried a couple of ways of combining the developing unit with the camera, and finally chose horizontal alignment which makes the assembled camera look neat and balanced.