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For the unrelated roll-film format produced from 1906 to 1949, see 126 film (roll format).

126 is the number given to a cartridge-based film format used in still photography. It was introduced by Kodak in 1963, and is associated mainly with low-end point-and-shoot cameras, particularly Kodak's own Instamatic series of cameras.

Although 126 was once very popular, as of 2008 it is no longer manufactured, and few photofinishers will process it.

Contents

History and technical details

A strip of 126 negatives, showing the square format and single perforation. The film is pre-exposed with frame lines and numbers, a feature intended to make printing and viewing easier.
A photo of the Holburn Museum, Bath, taken with 126 film and illustrating the square format.

In 1963, Kodak introduced a new film, encased in a plastic cartridge, for which they re-introduced the "126" designation. (The number was originally used for the unrelated 126 roll film format from 1906 to 1949).

The term "126" was intended to show that images were 26mm square, using Kodak's common 1xx film numbering system. However the image size is actually 28 x 28 mm, but usually reduced to approximately 26.5 x 26.5 mm by masking during printing or mounting.

The positioning of the image is fixed by the cartridge. The width of the film is the same as 35 mm, but the perforation consists of just one registration hole per image.

The 126 film cartridge.

The roll of film is housed in a plastic cartridge that also acts as a backing plate. The film was originally available in 12 and 20 image lengths; at the time they stopped production it was only available in 24 exposure cartridges. Like the 120 format, there is a continuous backing paper, and the frame number and type is visible through a window at the rear of the cartridge. The film does not need to be rewound, and is very simple to load and unload.

The format was introduced by Kodak under the brand name Kodapak, together with the Instamatic camera. Although the Instamatic name is sometimes treated as synonymous with the 126 format, Kodak also used it on its later 110-format cameras, which they called Pocket Instamatic and on its "M" series 8mm movie cameras [1].

Around ten million cameras were made by Kodak and other companies. However, with a few exceptions, the format was mainly used for fairly simple amateur cameras. (Makers of the few high-end models included Kodak, Rollei and Zeiss-Ikon.) Kodak officially discontinued the format on 31 December 1999.[2]

Current availability and usage

Ferrania[3] in Italy, was the last factory making 126 film. Their product was an ISO 200 colour print film marketed under their Solaris brand. The last scheduled production run took place in April 2007, but an unscheduled production run in late 2007 surprised industry observers and raised hopes that it had not actually been discontinued. [4] As of March 2009, Ferrania customer service states that they are producing only 135 format color film in 200 and 400 ASA.

Adocolor 126, which is regularly available in Europe and is sometimes imported by North American resellers, was manufactured for the German Adox company by Ferrania. [5]

Because it is 35mm wide and is developed in industry-standard C-41 process chemistry, processing of currently available 126 films is readily available, as long as the photofinisher knows that it is standard, 35mm, C-41 film. Many photofinishers are not aware of this, so it is important to inform them. Printing the photos can present problems, because modern film processing equipment often cannot handle the square format of 126 film. There are specialist photographic suppliers who can correctly process and print 126 film. Many standard flatbed scanners that have a light source for scanning films can be used to scan 126 negatives. All that is required is a simple black mask, which can easily be made with black paper. [6]

See also

  • International standard: ISO 3029

References

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