126 film is a cartridge film format that’s been gone for a while. Gone, but not dead. Well, not exactly alive either. Somewhere in between. So, not dead and not alive. More . . . undead . . . yes, it’s a zombie format.
You can’t buy new 126 film or, if you can, I couldn’t find any. However, you can buy a 3D printed film cartridge and load 35mm film into it. You can also break open an old 126 film cartridge and use that but when I tried it I just got a small pile of broken plastic. So I ordered a D printed cartridge.
‘But why bother’, I hear you cry. Well, when clearing out some old junk I came across two 126 cameras. I bought them at a car boot sale*, probably at least 25 years ago, only to discover I couldn’t find any film for them. So they sat in a box for quarter of a century. God, I feel old writing that.
*For those not lucky enough to have the experience where they live a car boot sale is very simple. People pay money to drive cars and vans into a muddy field, set up rickety tables and lay out whatever old junk they don’t want. Others then pay for the privilege to struggle through the mud and rain to search through this old crap in the genuine belief that one day they will be able to buy an original Picasso for the price of a bag of chips. They then leave with an armful of old junk, most of which will sit in their garage for years, before being sold by them at another car boot sale. It’s a form of recycling, or something.
As this was just an experiment I didn’t bother with the film changing bag that would allow me to load the cartridge properly and easily. Instead I went through a process of fumbling in a bin bag, inside another bag. Yes, there was a little fogging of the film but less than I expected. I used a roll of APX 400 so there was a chance of some pictures coming out.
But what about the camera? Well, this is the mighty Prinz Candide Model 400 and it’s . . . a camera. It’s got a lens, a shutter and some other bits. I would love to be more specific but so far I have managed to find out nothing, absolutely nothing, about it. To be honest, it’s a pretty non-descript point and shoot.
In practice it was simple to use – load the cartridge, tape up the window on the back and shoot. No focus, no shutter speed or aperture to select – just click the shutter and wind on. Well, almost that easy. The winding on doesn’t work well as the 35mm film has perforations the 126 film never had so it keeps getting stuck. I saw the flash mount of the top rotated as I wound on so I just went with one rotation between shots – covering the lens as firing a blank shot each time it stopped.
After the film was finished I used my same improvised changing bag to get it back in a 35mm canister and sent it off to Analogue Wonderland’s Wonderlab for processing. Here are some of the results.
Not bad results really. Sure, it’s not the world’s greatest lens but decent for a point and shoot this old and better film loading would help. But, not bad. I quite enjoyed using it so I will put more film through it. Next time I might go with colour, just for variety.