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126 film

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126 is the number given to two different film formats used in still photography. It is generally taken to mean the cartridge-based format introduced in 1963.

The original film designated "126" was a roll film introduced by Kodak in 1906, for images 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches. It was discontinued in March 1949.

 

[edit] 126 film-cartridge format (1963 to present day)

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 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.
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 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 26.5 x 26.5 mm by masking.

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 126 film cartridge.

The film is housed in a dual spool plastic cartridge that also registers the film, acts as the backing plate for the film, and as the exposure counter. The film was originally available in 12 and 20 image lengths, but today it is 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 their later 110-format cameras, which they called Pocket Instamatic).

Around ten million cameras were made, and with a few exceptions, the format was never really used for anything but fairly simple amateur cameras. Kodak officially discontinued the format on 31 December 1999. As of 2006, Ferrania in Italy is still producing 126 cartridges of ISO 200 colour print film.

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