So I’ve been dabbling with large format so this next post is a bit of a jump I know.  I subscribe to the philosophy of ‘no film camera left behind’ and I’m always seeing little 126 cameras in charity shops, you know the Kodak Instamatic ones or such like.

For a good few years i’ve had two 126 cameras, a Kodak Instamatic 33 and an Instamatic 255X.


Now in the film fridge in the shed i’ve also got about 8 maybe 10 unshot 126 cartridges, still sealed but well past their expiration date.  The last fresh 126 film I believe left the factory in 2000, but these ones of mine are much much older than that.  1980s pretty much and a few from the 1960s/70s.

Please ignore that shitty APS in the back, it came in a job lot of film I bought.  I think I’ll use it as firelighters come BBQ season…

So what is 126.  Well look at it like the bastard child of a roll of 120 and a roll of 35mm.  The actual film size is the same as 35mm but unlike 135 it only has the one sprocket hole per frame.  This single sprocket hole is there so that a pin in the camera can grab hold of it and cock the cameras shutter.  The film is rolled up into a backing paper like a roll of 120 and is then stored inside the cartridge.  If your familiar with 828 film (which your not because why the hell would you be) its just like that, only in a convenient sealed cartridge.  The backing paper is fixed to a spindle inside the cartridge which is advance by the wind on on the camera like 135 film is.

828 doesn’t have any sprocket holes actually as it is treated more like 120 – rolled from a spool to a take up spool.

The idea was sold by Kodak to the amateur photographer as a quick and hassle free way to load film.  the cartridge simply drops in the camera and you advance the film.  No pulling the leader and making sure its attached to the take up spool correctly, the old equivalent of plug and play I guess!

Anyway.  I have a load of these cartridges and a few cameras and I think its a real shame that they are going unused.  These charity shop cameras are surely just gonna end up as landfill at some point and I cannot have that.  I’m not very well of financially, I’ll be honest, but if they’re not stupidly over priced I always try and pick them up, if for no reason other than to store them in the hope that I can give them to someone who will use them.

So my first action was to go and shoot one of these cameras.  I chose the 255X because it has a basic aperture adjustment.  You know the deal – symbols for sun, light cloud heavy cloud etc…I thought this would be a good idea as I had chosen to take out an extremely expired roll of Verichrome Pan.  Like 1970s I think it was.  We went for a family walk around Southwold and I simply used it to take a few snaps.  The cartridge only had 12 exposures, most were either 12 or 24 I believe – so it didn’t take long to get through the roll (or is that cartridge?)

Back home in the dark toilet (remember that post from way back?) I opened the cartridge and wound the film onto the normal 35mm Patterson spool and put it in the tank.  As I said the film is the same size (height) just much shorter in length so it was just processed as normal.

Results are below:

Not all of them were a success because it was getting a bit dark by the time I got to the end of the roll, but I think 7 out of 12 isn’t too bad.  The film was processed in Caffenol CL for 90 minutes.  I freakin love that shot with the seagull…

So thats enough for now, i’ve wittered on much more than I thought I would.  The next part of this 126 series will be out fairly soon and I’ll talk about rerolling films into old 126 cartridges.




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