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New work by a
very fine photographer:
Kiss those monthly
cable-tv bills goodbye. Roku is a powerful replacement for your
expensive cable-tv connection.
Haven't got an e-reader
Kindle is still the best value and the best choice.
years of providing 126 Instamatic film to the world, our supply has
finally come to an end.
The Kodak Instamatic 500 (circa 1963-8) shown
here has a magnificent Schneider-Kreutznach Xenar f2.8 lens, a
beautifully-made and accurate Gossen meter, and a 1/30-1/500 Compur shutter. It has a flash
hot-shoe as well as a PC synch socket, and synchs at any shutter speed.
After all these years, it is still a very fine camera, and richly deserves to be used.
price during the years it was manufactured was $94.50,
equivalent to roughly $700 in 2010 (check the math
In mint condition these
cameras have been selling
recently on eBay for less than $10 up to $20. It fits easily in a coat
Note: although Ferrania
ended production of 126 in April, 2007, we bought most of that last
production run, and expect to be able to provide you with 126 film into 2011.
In 1980, when 126 was at the height of its popularity, the K-Mart
discount chain sold Kodacolor VR 200 (126-24) for $3.19. At most
non-discount stores, supermarkets, drugstores, and camera stores, it was
closer to $3.75, which is roughly $9.75-$9.85 in 2010 dollars (check the math
here). So even though it is now a niche product, imported at
considerable shipping expense from high-cost Europe (not low-cost
China), we are still able to offer it at only about a dollar more than
its original retail cost.
can reload 126 cartridges using ordinary 35mm film, if you're
patient and have a darkroom or dark
bag. For reloading tips: Click
on this link, and locate the "intro, step 2, step 2" etc.
icons at the top of the page. The author, Bruce Miller, is a true friend
of frugal photography and richly deserves our thanks.
results, reload your cartridges with unperforated 35mm film, and
manually punch an indexing hole for each frame using a small hand punch,
the kind sold at scrapbooking stores. You can locate the positions for
the holes easily, because your backing paper has matching holes in the
35mm film in 100' rolls shows up on eBay fairly regularly.
Your Instamatic camera
is not obsolete.
Guaranteed to fit any Kodak Instamatic camera, from the
workaday 104 and 114 all the way up to the amazingly sophisticated
Instamatic Reflex and Instamatic 500. And, of course, it will work
perfectly in all those Minolta, Olympus, Rollei, Voigtländer, Canon,
and other high-quality 126 cameras.
Science fair deadline? Please note: Most orders which are received by early afternoon
(Mountain time) go out
the same day, but not all. Even with FedEx overnight service, it may be two business days before you receive your film.
Please note: these films carry
expiry dates of 2009 or 2010. They are
guaranteed to give excellent images but should be stored cold
or frozen when you receive them.
About Solaris Instamatic film
Ferrania was the last factory
anywhere in the world to manufacture 126 Instamatic-format
film. Production ended in April, 2007, but later in 2007 one further run was
processed. In July of 2008, the president of Ferrania announced to its unions
that all photographic film production would cease at the end of December, 2008 (read
the article here).
We expect to have Ferrania 126 films on hand for you
to buy through 2010 and into 2011, barring any unforeseen increase in demand. By that time, some entrepreneur will undoubtedly be making
126 again. It continues to be a valuable and valued format for people who want
to use the very good 126 cameras that are out there, and for pinhole
Click here to see samples of this film in use.
Solaris FG Plus is considerably advanced over
that company's former products, and has substantially improved
granular properties, color fidelity, and exposure latitude. When correctly exposed and processed
it gives images that
meet the most exacting, professional standards of quality.
Sophisticated 126 Instamatic format cameras have a
mechanical "sensor" that detects a notch in the film cartridge body,
and automatically sets the camera's
exposure system to the film speed being used. Solaris 126
film is rated ISO 200, and is particularly well suited to
high-quality photography using sophisticated cameras like
the Kodak Instamatic Reflex, Instamatic X-90, and Instamatic
500, the Voigtländer Bessa, Rollei A26
and the Minolta Autopak cameras,
Ricoh and Konica
rangefinder cameras, and the Yashica Ez-Matic and Ez-Matic
Electronic. These kinds of cameras "sense"
cartridges from ISO 50 or 80 to ISO 800, and expose Solaris
126 film accurately.
Solaris film's good exposure latitude means it can be
expected to also give excellent results in inexpensive 126
Finding a processing service for 126 Instamatic film
Try your local independent labs. Get out the Yellow Pages and call nearby
independent labs who have
been in business at least since the mid-1990's. It's possible they have what it takes.
Try Blue Moon in Portland, Dwayne's in Kansas, or
Wolfe's (click here).
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number of exceptional cameras were made to use 126
Instamatic film. Among them are the Kodak Instamatic
X-90 (top left), the Minolta AutoPak 550 (top
right), the Yashica Ez-Matic Electronic (bottom
left), and the Kodak Instamatic 500 (bottom right).
|The 126 film cartridge was introduced by Kodak
as the "Kodapak" in 1963, along with a set
of "Instamatic" cameras to use it with. It was invented to solve what Kodak felt were
the three most inhibiting problems for amateur
- the clumsy process of threading
roll films onto takeup spools in their cameras;
need to match a camera's exposure system to the
- and problems associated with trying to
advance film to the next frame through the use of
numbers printed on the film's backing paper and
viewed through a small round red window on the
The new format coincided with advances in film
chemistry that saw new color print and slide
emulsions becoming available. The first Kodapak
films were Kodacolor X for color prints, Kodachrome
X and Ektachrome X for color slides, and the very
popular Verichrome Pan for black and white photos,
which at the time were significantly less expensive
For the first time, color prints,
slides, and black and white could all be exposed at
approximately the same speed in simple cameras.
By pre-loading the film into a light-tight plastic
cartridge, Kodak effectively eliminated handling
film altogether. Drop the cartridge into the camera,
and then take it out for processing — no more takeup spools to
thread, no more risk of accidental exposure to
light. By printing frame numbers onto the film's
paper backing, Kodak made the cartridges useful in
inexpensive cameras that did not have frame-counting
mechanisms. And through an ingenious system of
perforations on the film edge and an indexing pin on
the camera body, the film automatically and
accurately framed itself, advancing only far enough
to position the next frame, and no farther.
The format was wildly successful. Reliable
estimates of the number of 126 Instamatic type
cameras manufactured between 1963 and the 1990's are
in the tens of millions. Every major 35mm camera
manufacturer except Nikon produced cameras
that used the KodaPak cartridge, and some of them
sold spectacular numbers of them.
The Kodak Instamatic 500, an expensive,
premium-quality camera made in Germany with a Gossen
meter and Schneider-Kreutznach Xenar lens, selling
for $94.50 in 1963 (equivalent to something like $600
today), is reported to have sold more than a half-million units.
Minolta's superbly-engineered AutoPak camera models sold more than a
quarter-million units each. Agfa, Fuji, 3M,
Ansco, and a host of smaller manufacturers all
produced films packaged in the Kodapak cartridge.
Many factors contributed to the decline of the
Instamatic camera, primarily the dramatic fall in
price and increase in sophistication of Japanese
35mm "point and shoot" cameras with
high-quality zoom lenses and autofocus systems. These innovative cameras
used ordinary 35mm cassettes. Motorized film advance and rewind, DX speed
encoding, and sophisticated exposure control made
the 126 Instamatic (and 110 Pocket Instamatic)
production of 126 cartridges at the end 1999, and most other film
manufacturers discontinued them at about the same
time. At that time, Kodak's 126 film production
amounted to less than 1/3 of 1% of their total
annual output, and was dropping 30% per year.
Kodak's expressed wish was that Instamatic users
would switch to APS, but most of them probably
switched to 35mm or recyclable
The last manufacturer, Ferrania SpA in Italy,
ended production of 126 in 2007.
Many inexpensive snapshot cameras from the 1960's
through the 80's used
126 Instamatic film. They crowd the shelves and bargain bins
of thrift shops the world over, dusty and unloved. It must be admitted that few of them would be a worthwhile camera for everyday use today, some definitely
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126 Instamatic cartridges originally gave either 12 or 24
28mm square images per roll, but due to the cropping effects of
photofinishers' printing equipment and slide mounts, it is the central 26mm
square portion of the negative that is printed.
It is possible to salvage empty 126 plastic shells and
backing paper, and reload them. However, for most Instamatic
cameras to operate properly, the film must have an
approximately 4mm wide and 2mm high rectangular perforation
in the top margin to mark the starting position of each frame. Without that perforation,
the frame-advance mechanism cannot tell when to stop. Correctly sized and spaced
perforations are difficult for the casual reloader to make.
Exposure and Processing:
Solaris 126 film is rated by the manufacturer at ISO 200 /
24 DIN. Our tests
resulted in correct exposure at the rated speed when
processed in standard C-41 chemistry by a one-hour lab.
126 film is 35mm wide, so it can easily be
processed by any lab, or in any home darkroom, that is equipped for processing 35mm color film. Few photo
labs, however, are equipped for printing the square
126 images, so most either crop the image rectangular, or deliver square images on 3x5 or
4x6 rectangular paper.
You can also take the film to your local photofinisher and ask for
"develop only", and then scan the negatives using a scanner at
1,200 dpi or greater, and print your own images on an inkjet printer.
For the more sophisticated 126 Instamatic cameras which
permit full exposure control, these are our suggested exposure values:
|Bright outdoor light