The Kodak Instamatic is a camera that I recall from my childhood. My parents and grandparents had them before moving to Kodak 110 cameras in the 1970’s. Kodak’s 126 film was introduced in 1963 and was marketed as an easy-load film cartridge. The film itself is 35mm film, paper backed, with a single sprocket hole per frame to allow each 28 x 28mm shot to advance through the camera. It wasn’t until 1987 that Kodak discontinued the format.
Camerhack in Italy has designed and 3-D prints a 135 (35mm) to 126 film adapter kit. The cartridge allows you to load standard 35mm film into a reusable cartridge so it can be used in a classic Kodak Instamatic, or any other camera that used 126 film. Claudio from Camerhack includes a detailed instruction booklet that guides you through the process. And even better, he’s also created a YouTube video that walks you step-by-step through loading, shooting and re-spooling.
Here are my tips for using the Camerhack 135 to 126 FAK:
- Plan to sacrifice a roll of 35mm film. This will help you practice loading the cartridge in the light. When you’re ready to load your favorite film in the adapter, you’ll be ready to do it in the dark.
- With your sacrificed roll of film, practice advancing the film in the camera. Instamatic cameras have a needle inside that is tripped by a sprocket hole when the film is advanced. You’ll find that each camera does this a little different. For example, my Kodak Instamatic 300 and Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic advanced very differently. Which leads me to the most important tip.
- Listen for the click. With my Kodak Instamatic 300, I had to press the shutter, take the shot, press the shutter button down (doesn’t actually open the shutter), advance the film until the shutter advance would CLICK. The key for me was holding the camera up to my ear and listening for that click to know that the film had advanced. The click is the key to success!
- Following Claudio’s instructions, if you decided to roll the film (in the dark) back into a 35mm cartridge to have it processed at a lab, know that the sprocket holes will get a little chewed up by the camera. This is caused by the needle inside that I mentioned earlier. When you roll the film back into the cartridge, wind it slowly.
- Only use a 24-exposure roll of 35mm film. Keep in mind that the original number of exposures on 126 film cartridges was 12 to 20. Using a 24-exposure roll should give you 16 to 20 images depending on the spacing between each shot. Using a smaller roll will also prevent the film from scratching when you load the film adapter.
Camera: Kodak Instamatic 300 (1963 – 1966)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo