Tag Archives: 126

Phound Photos Volume 5

I bought a Kodak Instamatic 104 as part of a camera lot and it came with a Kodachrome-64 cartridge. I had tried processing Kodachrome as black and white before but got nothing. I tried again using Kodak HC-110 and Ilford Rapid Fixer and the film had some retrievable images.

Christmas portrait.

Christmas portrait.

Looks a bit like Richard Karn as Al on "Home Improvement".

Looks a bit like Richard Karn as Al on “Home Improvement”.

Another Eastern Air Lines photo.

Another Eastern Air Lines photo.

Nice hat.

Nice hat.

Palm trees.  Makes sense -- Eastern was headquartered in Miami.

Palm trees. Makes sense — Eastern was headquartered in Miami.

The camera itself isn’t any help dating these images. The Instamatic 104 was made from 1965 to 1968. Kodachrome 64 in 126 format was made from 1974 to 1993. That at least sets an early limit — the photos are from no earlier than 1974. Eastern Air Lines went out of business in 1991 so that more or less sets an upper date limit. Going by hair and clothing styles, I’d guess late 70s or early 80s.

Processing Kodachrome as black and white creates really dense negatives, even after removing the anti-halation layer. I didn’t have to do anything special to get the remjet off — a pre-wash did most of the work and an extra-thorough rinse at the end did the rest. The negatives are also really orange which is why the digitally inverted negatives are blue.

My scanner couldn’t transmit enough light through the negatives to get anything useful. Even normal use of a slide projector wasn’t bright enough. I ended up putting individual negatives in a slide frame (Kodachrome is also really thick and really curly) and taping it over the front of the slide projector lens. I used macro mode on the Nikon AW100 to photograph the negatives. I shot at an angle so the pattern of the bulb didn’t show through and de-skewed in Photoshop. The light wasn’t consistent across the frame so there is some vignetting, showing as a lighter halo when the images were inverted.

I found a couple of articles about bleaching the negatives using C-41 bleach or fixer with ascorbic acid. I’ll try that when I can and add results here.

Developing notes:

All except running water rinses at 20C/68F. Yankee tank with 2 adjustable reels using just the lower reel. Any 35mm setup will work. 126 is the same width with different perforations.

For the pre-wash, I ball-parked 68F using my finger under the tap and ran water into the tank for 2 minutes. A lot of yellow water with black flecks came out at first. Drained and set the timer for developing.

Kodak HC-110 dilution H. H is an unofficial dilution. It’s 1/2 strength dilution B for twice the time. 1 part developer to 63 parts water. Instructions say to use at least 6mL of developer per roll so I used 6mL developer syrup and 378mL water to get the right ratio (total developer solution = 384mL). Continuous inversions for the first minute and then 15 seconds of inversions every 3 minutes for a total of 20 minutes. Drained and got more yellow liquid and black flecks.

Kodak Indicator stop bath mixed at a strength of 16mL/L (5-6mL for 340mL). 2 inversions and then sit for 1 minute. Drained pretty clear. I never reuse the stop so I don’t use the indicator. I’ll have to reuse some just so I know what the indicator color change looks like.

If I was going to reuse the fixer, I’d add a rinse here. I wasn’t so I didn’t.

Ilford Rapid Fixer mixed 1:4 (68mL fix + 272mL water for 340mL). Same inversions (agitation) as the developer for a total of 15 minutes. Drained pretty clear.

I sometimes use the temperature control bath water for rinsing if I’m sure I didn’t get any chemicals in it. It’s already at the right temperature. I filled the tank and inverted 5 times and emptied it. Refill, invert 10X, empty, and then the same with 20X inversions. I usually stop rinsing here but I was concerned about the remjet backing so I added ~3 minutes under running water to be sure.

After the rinse, I added a few drops of Kodak Photo-Flo, refilled the tank with water, inverted a few times to make it nice and foamy, drained, squeegeed with my fingers, and hung it to dry.

Loading 35mm film in a 126 cartidge

Flex the cartridge a few times to crack the seams.

To get the thing started flex in one direction...

To get the thing started flex in one direction…

... and then the other.

… and then the other.

Most of the edges come apart pretty easily but there are some “welds”. The top (label right side up) is the hardest part. The back (label side) overlaps the inside by about 5mm and there is a glue weld inside the overlap. You might get lucky, you might have to use a knife or razor blade, or, like my first one, you might mangle it. It’s still usable, I just have to use more tape to seal it.

Most of the cartridges I have are marked where the glue has melted the seams together.

Most of the cartridges I have are marked where the glue has melted the seams together.

The bottom has less overlap but it's glued inside as well.

The bottom has less overlap but it’s glued inside as well.

The take-up spool side is edge glued and came apart pretty cleanly.

The take-up spool side is edge glued and came apart pretty cleanly (note the cat hair from my curious assistant).

The supply side has a very small overlap and mostly came apart.  The crooked part is where I tried to get a razor blade in the seam.

The supply side has a very small overlap and mostly came apart. The crooked part is where I tried to get a razor blade in the seam.

The old film will be really curly. I saved it for testing frame spacing and used a piece of the paper as fixed film backing.

The image area is well defined.  The film will be a little too far from the lens unless...

The image area is well defined. The film will be a little too far from the lens unless…

Most of the articles I’ve read skip this part. You can go without but the focus will be a little off. A lot of Instamatics had pretty soft focus from cheap plastic lenses. It depends — do you want to embrace the Lomo-style effects or try to take a “good” photograph?

... you use some backing paper.  This is vintage 126 paper but you can cut down 120 backing paper or use anything black that's the right thickness.

… you use some backing paper. This is vintage 126 paper but you can cut down 120 backing paper or use anything black that’s the right thickness.

After smoothing the tape and giving the cartridge a good dusting, it’s time to get things ready to go into the dark. I use a changing bag but anywhere you can work in total darkness is fine.

The small spool is from a roll of dog poo bags.

The small spool is from a roll of dog poo bags.

I haven’t seen other articles where the supply side was put onto a spool. It made it a lot easier for me to get it rolled properly.

Tape the film count window on the cartridge and the camera.

Tape the film count window on the cartridge and the camera.

    My dark bag checklist:

  1. camera
  2. cartridge front and back
  3. spools
  4. 35mm film in the cartridge
  5. scissors
  6. four precut pieces of studio tape attached in order to a small ruler

Go slow, turn off your phone, and give the cat some snacks. You want to be able to do this by feel without distraction.

    The in-the-dark sequence from my written notes:

  1. cut the 35mm leader
  2. tape film to supply spool
  3. wind film and cut from 35mm cart.
  4. tape film to take-up spool
  5. assemble and close 126 cartridge
  6. tape take-up side of 126 cart.
  7. tape supply side of 126 cart.
  8. put the film in the camera and close the back

I decided to cut the 35mm leader in the bag so I could pull enough to make it easy to tape to the supply spool without exposing a couple of frames. The tape pieces were pre-measured for taping to the spools and holding the ends of the cartridge together. I felt for the short spool pieces and went left to right along the ruler so I got the right piece for each step. Because the cartridge was somewhat mangled, I decided to tape the camera back light-tight instead. The top and bottom edges of the cartridge would be a pretty precise tape job in the dark bag.

After pulling the camera out of the bag, I used more studio tape on the seams of the camera back.

I’ll do another, shorter, post about actually using this kludge in the camera.

52 Cameras: Week 52 part 2 – Kodak Instamatic 77x

This is the end-ish of the 52 Cameras Project. I’ll still be posting but I won’t hold to anything near a camera a week. A lot of cameras need TLC, I have a documentary photography class coming up in October, and a lot of projects need a push to get into production.


Not bad for a camera that was low-end 37 years ago. I’ll do a post about reloading 35mm film into a 126 cartridge later. I only had time to use the 35mm adapter in the scanner. The image overlaps the lower sprocket holes on 35mm film.

Scanned with the CanoScan 9000f at 4800 DPI using Image Capture.app and resized to 15% for upload. No idea why, but the Canon software overexposed everything.

Walking downtown we heard a dog barking.  Who thinks to look UP when a dog barks?

Walking downtown we heard a dog barking. Who thinks to look UP when a dog barks?

My sweetie rockin' Cher bangs and her cool VONA shirt.

My sweetie rockin’ Cher bangs and her cool VONA shirt.

Sunflowers at the co-op.

Sunflowers at the co-op.

Statue on the patio at India Palace in Santa Fe.

Statue on the patio at India Palace in Santa Fe.