Shooting the Often Overlooked Kodak Instamatic 500
--126 Cassette Reloading Methods--
126 Cassette Reloading Methods
There are three basic methods used for reloading 126 cartridges. Make new 126 film. Simple reload of 35mm film into the 126 cartridge. Replace old 126 cardridge film with 35mm film and re-attach to the old factory 126 paper backing.
Make new 126 film. This first method is used by die hards. This method involves a complex process of slitting 120 film down to 35mm width. Giving one the correct width film, with no sprocket holes. Then using a template and correctly sized punch to create individual holes on one edge of the cut down film, at the same intervel as the original film and the backing paper. Then re-taping this new 126 film onto the original factory backing paper. One can also cut new backing paper of the exact same size as the original, and recut hole in this new backing paper. All modifications to the film must be accomplished in the dark. You then have what is esentially brand new 126 film! The reloaded cassette can be advanced as designed for the camera, precisely to the next exposure interval. This method can also be done using no paper backing. Doing so requires care to be taken to cover the window in the back of the 126 cassette with black tape, and the window on the back door of the camera, to avoid light ruining the film.
Simple reload of 35mm film into the 126 cartridge. The second method involves simply replacing the factory film and paper with 35mm film of the correct length. This is the quickest. The factory instructions for advancing the film cannot be used with this method. Instead it is required that you wind the film twice instead of once, to advance the film for each shot. You MUST also remember to hold something over the lens before you make the "in between" crank of the advance lever, because you must release the shutter after each wind of the advance lever. You must also place black tape over the 126 cassette and camera windows to avoid runing the film. If you use this method, I suggest that you tape a piece of original backing paper inside the cassette, that covers the area where the replacement film is when exposed. This provides a slight additional thickness that pushes the film more firmly against the cartridge. Doing so results in a sharper edge to each image and in my opinion gives you sharper images as the film is on the same plain as originally designed. There is another method of advancing the film when using the Instamatic 500, that can be used, it is explained in the 3rd method next.
Replace old 126 cardridge film with 35mm film and re-attach to the old factory 126 paper backing. The third method is what I use, and what will be deminstrating. I do not get reliable results when reloading film only into the 126 cartridge. I find that method prone to light leaks. Remember, even the original factory cassettes used paper backing. By explaining this third method, you will easily understand similarities of the other two metods. This method consists of reusing the old paper backing from the original film, taped to the new 35mm film. This method also requires some modification to the factory method of advancing the film and will be explained. I tend to use only 12 exposure cassettes, and thereby that same size backing paper. This number exposure cassette seem to be the most prevelent around here, and using this size makes it much easier to handload the film/paper into the cassette in the dark, and avoid binding.
Be sure to use a marker on the numbered side of the paper backing to mark the points where the actual film begins and ends before removing the factory 126 film from the paper backing. This is be used later when advancing the film.
I cut the new film to length and then tape the new 35mm film onto the factory paper backing at the same spot where the original film had been attached. As with the factory film, this prevents the film stop pin from entering a 35mm film hole at the 90 degree point in a wind, instead of continuing on for a complete wind of about 130 degrees. 90 degrees is about the place where the advance lever stops when most people use 35mm film with no backing paper. Exact procedure to avoid this short stroke will be discussed later.
On page 1 we saw a 126 cartridge roll of film with the paper backing attached. Above is the underside of a paper backing from which the factory film has been untaped and removed. I have left the old tape in place for three reasons. First, it is hard to separate it from the paper backing and will likely damage the paper if you do. Second, I use the tape as a marker, so I know where to attach the new 35mm film. Third, I mark a line on the back side of the paper (The side you see through the cartridge). I use a red permanent marker that I can easily see with the film in the camera. It is also a good idea to mark a line at the spot on the paper where the film ends. Reason for this are explained on page 3.
Here is a canister of new 35mm film that will be installed, instead of the old factory 126 film. Above the 35mm film is the original 126 cartridge film, having been removed from the paper backing.
A piece of tape, I use painters masking tape, is applied to the end of the film. Notice the sticky side is up here because the film will be taped to the paper backing with the emulsion side up (The other side).
I would practice this at least a couple of times in the light with sacrficial film. Using the actual film, you MUST be in total darkness. As seen here I am holding one end of the original 126 cartridge film over the start of the new film. Also note that there are no slots in the old 126 cartridge film at either end, because this is the portion of factory film rolled onto the takeup spool before getting to the point of the first exposure.
After you have cut the new 35mm film to length, this is what you will feel inside the bag, or in the dark! Not to worry.
One of the methods I use in the dark to ensure the paper/film rolls up evenly, is to hold the paper/film with a thumb and forfinger with one hand while turning the spool with the other. Keeping the roll taunt.
Here is the paper film combo rolled tight, and ready to place into the 126 cassette.
Hold in place and reattach the upper half of the 126 cassette. Ensure that the two pieces of the cassette are fully in place before exposing to the light. I even hold pressure on the two halfs, in the light until I have placed tape on either end to ensure that the cassette does not come open during use.
I always test fit the cartridge into the camera right away to ensure that it does not hang on the tape.