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127 is a film format for still photography. The image format is usually a square 4×4 cm, but rectangular 4×3 cm and 4×6 cm are also standard. Oddly, C. F. Foth & Co. used 36×24 mm (the same size as is standard for 135) for its first “Derby” model.

Contents

Technical details

127 is a roll film, 46 mm wide. Frame number markings for the 4×4 and 4×6 image formats are printed on the backing paper, while 4×3 cameras typically have two frame counter windows, exposing the left and right halves of the 4×6 frame.

Using the square format, there are 12 exposures per roll; 4×3 and 4×6 give 16 and 8, respectively.

There are alternative uses. For its “Alfax” model (circa 1940), Kimura Kōgaku had 4×4.5 cm frames, spaced by markings on the wind knob.

History

The format was introduced by Kodak in 1912, along with the “Vest Pocket Kodak” folding camera, as a compact alternative to larger portable cameras using 120. The folding “127s” were in fact smaller than most 35 mm cameras today. The 127 format made a comeback during the 1950s as the format of choice for small inexpensive cameras such as the Brownie and Satellite, and continued in wide use until surpassed by the 126 film and 110 film “Instamatic” cartridges (introduced in 1963 and 1972 respectively), and especially by 35 mm. 127 cameras from that era were often characterized by simple box-like construction. Slides shot on 127 slide film were often preferred over 35 mm for example for sets of slides sold at tourist gift shops, because of the larger photo area and completely square dimensions of a 127 slide. The format was part of the ISO 732 standard until it was dropped in the third (1991) edition of that standard.

Variations

Not all 127 films were labeled as such. After 1913, many Kodak cameras included the Autographic feature, and Kodak’s 127 films which had Autographic backing were identified as A127. Other film manufacturers did not produce Autographic films, for which Kodak held a patent. Other camera manufacturers did make Vest Pocket-format cameras, however, and 127 film at the time was often labeled “Vest Pocket Film”.

Uses

The format was mainly used for amateur cameras like the Brownie, with the Exakta SLR, the “Baby” Rolleiflex, the Yashica 44 TLR, the Komaflex-S SLR and the Primo jr as possible exceptions. Few photofinishers made enlargements at the time the film was introduced, and most 127 negatives were contact printed. The later, more expensive 127 cameras featured lenses that were good enough to permit enlargement.

127 color transparencies can be mounted in standard 2” square slide mounts, and projected in an ordinary 35 mm projector. Because of their much greater area, the projected image is larger and more brilliant than a 35 mm slide, and they are popularly called “Superslides”, a name once reserved for 4x4 cm slides cut down from 120 film.

Production

Kodak stopped producing 127 film in July, 1995, with all but one manufacturer following suit shortly thereafter. Fotokemika of Samobor, Croatia, continues to make 127 film, which it sells under its own Efke brand, as well as custom-packaging for other sellers. Macophoto UP100 and Jessops 200 are made and packaged by Fotokemika. So is the Chromazone 127 film sold intermittently on eBay. In September 2006, Bluefire Laboratories of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, began packaging 127 color print film, cutting Kodak or Agfa film to size from bulk rolls, and assembling the rolls of film from their own components. In July, 2009, Rollei (Maco photo, Hans o. Mahn GmbH) introduced Rollei retro 80s, available in 127 film format.

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