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Reload Your Old 126 Films with Fresh 35mm Film

If you finally got a 126 roll, don't stop reloading it with your favorite 35 mm film and use it with your Agfamatic or Kodak Instamatic camera!!

Perhaps you feel tired after a long time looking for 126 film on the Internet and at every flea market you visit. Then it is the time to reload your 126 cartridges with the 35 mm film of your choice.

Reloading the 126 format cartridge is quite easy. All you will need is:

*One or more old 126 rolls. You can reload the same one as many times as you want.
*Any 35 mm film.
*Black gaffer tape.
*A dark room.

To open the 126 cartridge, just hold it with both hands, keeping the film spool (the piece that rotates) on the right side. Twist the cartridge slowly until the left side breaks. Carefully open the cover and the right side will separate too. Now we will take out the spool, unwind the old film, and cut it to release the spool. Remember: if you want to develop the original film that is currently inside the cartridge, this operation must be carried out in absolute darkness.

Now it’s time to attach the leader of the new film to the spool by using some gaffer tape. The film must be correctly aligned so it could freely wind around the spool while taking our photos.

From this point, we must go on working in total darkness. It is advisable to prepare all the stuff beforehand, so we can easily find it later. Inside a dark room, we will turn the spool to wind all the new film around it. We have to do it by touch, so you better wash your hands before. Otherwise, you can experiment by stamping a few fingerprints on the film. When all the new 35 mm film is outside, and winded around the spool, we will cut the end of the film and discard the 35 mm canister.

Then, and still in the darkness, we will unwind all the film from the spool, making a thin roll of film that should fit in the left part of the 126 cartridge, where it must be loaded to start shooting.

Once we have accommodated the film on the left side, we can mount the spool again on its original position on the right. At this point, it is advisable to say that the film must be mounted so that the lighter color side of the film faces the camera lens. Otherwise, we’ll get a homemade redscale film. Perhaps you can refer to the photos on this tip. Finally, we can close the 126 cartridge again and use some gaffer tape to keep it closed if necessary.

As the original 126 film had a paper layer on his back (very much like the well-known 120 film), we must use some tape to cover the window on the rear of the cartridge so the light cannot spoil the film.

Now is the time to switch on the light and put the 126 cartridge into our favorite camera.

Before we start shooting, there is one more thing to consider. The 126 film had only one hole per photogram. That hole allowed the camera to know when a whole frame had been advanced, and lock the winding mechanism until the next shot. So, as 35 mm films have more than one sprocket hole per photo, we must trick a little bit more. After shooting a picture and advancing the film, we have to cover the lens with the hand, shot and advance again. For my Agfamatic, two ‘ghost shots’ work nice. A little bit experimentation may be required for other cameras. If we don’t advance those extra shots between pictures, we will get a nice endless panorama of overlapped photos, and that’s a great feature too.

After shooting the entire film, we will be able to witness that the advance mechanism does not get locked anymore after every shot. Then we will go back to the dark room to open the cartridge and recover our 35 mm film. We will unwind and untape it from the spool. We should transport it carefully to the lab, so no light harms it. It is also advisable to inform to the lab staff that the film is ‘naked’.

One last thing: 126 cartridges used to be 12 or 24 exposures, so it is better to reload with 24 exposures film rather than 36.

I hope you find this tip useful. Here you can see a gallery with the results. LOMO ON!!

written by vgzalez and translated by vgzalez


  1. maxwellmaxen


    great tipster! but i have one more simple idea:
    wind the film back into the 35mm film canister. like you do it with redscale films.. tape it to the little rest, where you cut it, and just wind it in. then you have a very "standart" film and no problems to get it develpped :)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. blue-dog


    Really great tip..I have a nice 126 camera i need to get busy with

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. icuresick



    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. gvelasco


    Nice! I guess I'll have to buy one of those 126 cameras I've been avoiding on eBay.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. gnarlyleech


    lol. same here gvelasco. I steer clear of those. but I am looking them up as of now.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. stouf


    Suuuuuper !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. superlighter


    Great and usefull tip! if I can add some hint. If your 126 camera can arm the shutter and fire also when is empty a useful thing to do in the camera is to cut off the metal tooth that engages the film. Besides being useless with the normal 35 film may damage the film in many cases. and another suggestion: why not hang the film around a spool reel before fixing it to the receiver? I opened a 35mm film and I took the spool and I've cut the spool by the right size to make it fit inside the 126 cartridge. This is useful because many cameras still load the shutter when the film is over, so it is easy to see when we got the last shot because the film can not advance anymore.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. chris-carnage


    i have an old agfa iso-pak c camera my grandfather brought from germany and I cant WAIT to try this. i'm gonna be buying a pack of 126 from frugal photographer (unless someone has a better site)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. kylewis



    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. vgzalez


    Hey, @maxwellmaxen and @superlighter!! Thanks a lot for your ideas!! They very much improve the tip. And thanks to everyone for liking and commenting! :) LOMO ON! Víctor.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. kvboyle


    Excellent - I have a Kodak Instamatic 500 at my Mum's house in England...maybr this summer I'll rescue it! Great article, thanks so much.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. weedos


    Great tip and excellent timing as I just inherited a Kodak X15F (and a roll of film that expired in 1982). I can't wait to try this.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. jaguarwomon


    It's always fun to figure out a way to shoot with those quirky old cameras.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. adelekirby

    I wonder if icould do the same with a 110 film, which looks like the same sort of thing but smaller. I always wondered if i could remove a 110 film from the cartridge and use it in my tiny hit camera, then if i can put it back in the cartridge afterwards i can send it off to be printed :)
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  15. perksofbeinganinvert


    just got an kodak instamatic 104 for my birthday, and i'm working my buns off to get a 126 cartridge!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  16. amybreaksloose


    I got an kodak instamatic 104 for my birthday and i'm looking for a 126 cartridge, but i have trouble finding it! if anyone has a spare used or unused cartridge, can you let me know?!

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  17. adam_g2000


    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  18. dianalerias


    love it. thanks so much for sharing!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  19. ema_vanni


    Man, that's just AWESOME!! That's the way to get sproket holes photography to a whole new level!! ...THANX! ;-)
    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  20. vgzalez


    @ema_vanni Love you enjoyed it :)

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  21. farelos

    I want a 126 cartridge... I can't find...
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  22. 6pm

    why does the picture doesn't get the lower sprocket holes??? I mean that way I don't classify it as a true sprocket hole photo...
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  23. brunomcp


    I Recently acquired two 126 cartridges and I intend to do this, but some parts details me, like the ghost shots, and the metal tooth getting stuck.
    By the way, is it possible that my cartridges still work or am I going to waste money at the lab?
    I would like to use the original film before stuffing in the 35mm.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  24. vgzalez


    @brunomcp I'd definitely give a try to your 126 films, no doubt. Even if they are too expired, you will get interesting shots. Just don't use them to take pictures of a friend's wedding :) And of course, tell the lab to give the chasis back to you without breaking it, or take the film out by yourself. About the ghost shots, it's actually quite easy: the 126 advance mechanism depends on the sprocket holes on the film. It's intended to "find" just one hole per photogram. After reloading with conventional 35 mm film, there are more holes per picture, so the advance mechanism stops before a whole frame has been advanced. This is why you have to shot and advance two or three times after taking every picture; otherwise, you'll get your photos overlapped. I hope this explanation was helpful to you!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  25. brunomcp


    So if I just take one ghost shot, or none, I get a panoramic like image across the whole film, right?
    That might be nice… Could I scan that with a regular scanner, after developing?

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  26. vgzalez


    @brunomcp Of course you can with any film scanner :)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  27. brunomcp


    What's the difference between a film scanner and… a scanner?

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  28. vgzalez


    @brunomcp a filmscanner has a backlight on the cover. you will get nothing if you try to scan film with a scanner without backlight.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  29. brunomcp


    OOOoooooh, now I get it :P
    Thank you! :)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  30. brunomcp


    Out of curiosity, do people around here prefer that method for uploading photos or scanning the printed photo?

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  31. mbhuyko

    amazing, i have agfamatic 300 sensor...
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  32. bunnandbird


    I might just have to order an empty cartridge on ebay ...I don't think the charity shop I got my 126 camera at would have any... unless of course anyone knows a different site that has actual film?
    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  33. krisko1210


    had wonderful experience with instamatik kamera and 126 cartriges - original and reloaded. wrote an article about it but it is not online yet :] but uploaded some albums already!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  34. niasarinastiti


    thanks for the nice tipster! :-) i hope i can find an empty 126 cartridge...

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  35. niasarinastiti


    thanks for the nice tipster! :-) i hope i can find an empty 126 cartridge...

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  36. devildi


    heyyyy great idea .. i ll have to try it :-))

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  37. cherryleesayshi


    i really cant open my 126cartridge:( prob im not doing it right.can i please get some extra help in that first part?
    almost 2 years ago · report as spam
  38. sandergroen


    @cherryleesayshi: The cassette consists of two parts; the top with the label and the bottom that holds the film. The two parts are glued (or melted) together. If you examine the cassette closely, you will see where they are connected. Pry it open on the left (smaller) side with a small knife or something, it will come apart and you can separate the top and bottom part. Everything needs to be done in the dark of course if there's exposed film inside, and do it carefully, so you don't break the thinner plastic parts around the film frame.

    almost 2 years ago · report as spam
  39. cherryleesayshi


    @sandergroen thanks a looot:) ill try it again! fingers crossed x
    almost 2 years ago · report as spam
  40. istionojr


    very helpful tipster. ;)

    almost 2 years ago · report as spam
  41. southocoaster7

    Thank you So much will dust off our old 126's & get snapping again with them Cheers
    almost 2 years ago · report as spam
  42. rmfs-ruegen


    Hallo, bei einer 126-Kassette habe ich mit einem Klebestreifen die Öffnung durch die der Stift (Zahn) den Originalfilm stoppt zugeklebt, dann im Dunkeln den Kleinbildfilm wie den 126-Film zusammen mit dem Papierstreifen sehr eng gerollt, an der Spule befestigt und in die Kassette gelegt. Mit zwei Klebestreifen wurde danach die Kassette zusammengeklebt. Bei meiner Agfamatic 300 kann der Film wie bei einer Rollfilmkamera von einer Zahl zur nächsten weitertransportiert werden. Der Verschluß dieser Kamera löst aus, obwohl der Stift nicht mehr einrasten kann. So wurden bisher 2 Filme mit Erfolg belichtet. Auf dem Papierstreifen habe ich nur die Zahlen im Abstand von etwa 38 mm sichtbar gelassen, so daß ein Bildabstand wie bei einer "normalen" Kleinbildkamera entsteht. Die anderen Zahlen wurden mit einem schwarzen Stift übermalt. Allerdings fehlen nun die Nummern 5, 12 und 18. Nach dem Belichten kommt der Film wieder in die Kleinbildpatrone und kann in jedem Fotolabor zum Entwickeln abgegeben werden. Wem das mit dem Papierstreifen zu umständlich ist, kann, nachdem er die Öffnung für den Stift und das Sichtfenster zugeklebt hat, auch nur den Kleinbildfilm in die Kassette tun. Der Transporthebel der Kamera muß zum Filmtransport dann immer bis zum Anschlag bewegt werden. Allerdings erhält man dann weniger Bilder auf einem Film. Zu beachten ist noch, daß die Negativgröße nur 24x28mm statt 28x28mm ist. Es hat aber den Vorteil, daß der Film mit jedem Kleinbildscanner bearbeitet werden kann. Ich habe bei meiner Kamera mit einem kleinen schwarzen Klebestreifen das Sucherbild oben abgedeckt, so daß es etwa dem zu fotografierenden Bildausschnitt entspricht.
    Achtung! Bei meinen Kodak Instamatic Kameras (233 und 104) kann ich die wie oben beschirieben präparierten Kassetten nicht benutzen. Der Stift muß immer einrasten, bevor der Verschluß betätigt werden kann. Bei den Instamatic Kameras kann man allerdings mit gedrücktem Auslöser den Film so weit transportieren, wie man will. rmfs-ruegen

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  43. Daniel Truta

    I have a problem with my Kodak Instamatic 104...I've followed all the steps above, but when I shoot and advance it keeps jamming...I have to pull out the film cartridge and press the pin, put the film back and so on...Can somebody give me a solution??? Please !!!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  44. Daniel Truta

    Can anybody around here help me with a tip? My Kodak Instamatic 104's trigger is jamming after one shot (when I try to advance trigger is jamming at half distance)...so the only working solution I've found is to open the camera (in complete darkness) pull out the 126 film cartridge (loaded with 35 mm) press the pin in the same time when I push the trigger; then put back the cartridge, shot the ghost shot, advance (again is jamming and I'm doing again the operations above and so on)...If so, it means I can't use my camera for outside shooting, because of the jamming moment...So there is another solution for my problem? Please help me (somebody), so I don't have to kill another passion...Thank you all and @tipster for the info and the tutorial above...
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  45. Daniel Truta

    The pulling triger
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  46. rmfs-ruegen


    Hallo Daniel Truta, bei der Kodak Instamatic 104 muss der Auslöser beim Filmtransport gedrückt gehalten werden. So kann der Stift (Zahn) nicht einrasten. Zwei mal so den Filmtransporthebel bewegen. Beim 3. Bewegen des Transporthebels wird der Auslöser nicht betätigt. Dann rastet der Stift ein. Ähnlich funktioniert es auch bei der Kodak Instamatic 233 und der Carena 126 sport. rmfs-ruegen

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  47. crismiranda


    The problem for me is finding an empty 127mm cartridge :(

    7 months ago · report as spam
  48. kuurmaa


    cople of options on ebay - http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_nkw=kodak+126+film
    2 months ago · report as spam
  49. ikondave


    Very well written article!

    about 1 month ago · report as spam

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The original version of this article is written in: Spanish. It is also available in: Nederlands.