The Kodak Instamatic Camera is a camera which was developed in the 1960s to simplify the use of film. The idea was to put in and out a film without any problems because the insertion of normal film often caused troubles. Even professional photographers did it wrong sometimes so that a whole series of their photos was destroyed. So Kodak developed the cassette film (126 film) a rather cheap alternative to usual film at this time, and the above mentioned Instamatic camera. You just have to insert the cassette into the camera – the film transport starts when you turn the film transportation wheel.
There is only one producer who still builds 126 films: the Italian company Ferrania. The trade name of the film is Solaris.
The format is square and it has 24 exposures. They don’t produce black and white film or slide film anymore.
I found my instamatic camera on a flea market when I was in Amsterdam this year. It only cost 10 € and so I bought it without knowing anything about it. First I was a little bit disappointed when I noticed that normal 35mm film does not work with this camera. But I went to my photography shop of trust and asked about instamatic film. They surely had one. But it was rather expensive – 5,90 € per film because it is in little demand today.
The insertion of the cassette is really as simple as it is promised.
The camera has two exposure settings – one for cloudy weather and flash and one for sunny weather – pictured as weather icons. The Kodak Instamatic Camera does not have a standard flash shoe and so you cannot use your normal flashes. It uses flashcubes and I guess they can’t be found easily nowadays. So it’s better to just take photos outside on a sunny day – the ASA of the 126 film is always 200. I took my photos on a bright sunny day and they are very colourful and the exposure is ok too.
I made a big mistake when I took my first two rolls of film: When you take one photo and you turn the transportation wheel you can see the number of the next shot several times. That somehow confused me and so I did not turn the wheel far enough. You feel some kind of resistance when you reach the end of one shot while turning the transportation wheel. I recognized it when I only had about three or four shots left. That’s why there are yellow stripes in some of my pictures.
I am happy with my Instamatic 33 Camera because it is an easy use camera. It is very robust and I also like the easy insertion and removal of the film cassette. A disadvantage is the price of the film and that you can only get it in special photography shops. Also the development can only be done at a special shop and this can be a little bit circuitous when you live in a one-horse-town.