What is 126 film?

126 film was launched in 1963 by Kodak for its range of Instamatic cameras, in an attempt to address concerns and complaints about the “complicated” process of loading and unloading film.

The photography industry had to give 126 film a gradual goodbye as Kodak stopped producing Instamatic cameras in 1988 and 126 film in 1999. Other companies had their versions of the film format, but manufacturing eventually stopped in around 2007 or 2008. 126 film was first available in 12 and 20 exposures, but was bumped up to 24 exposures by the time regular production ceased.

Photos by deff1, superlighter, mackiechartres, philhale, cosettex

The number 126 is derived from the dimensions of its negatives, 26.5 mm square. Unlike the sprockets of 35 mm film, 126 film only had one registration hole per image. The film also made printing and viewing easier by having pre-exposed frame lines and numbers.

Photos by szzs, flaviaslick

126 film was safely enclosed in a plastic cartridge that simplified the loading and unloading process. The format no longer required manual attachment of the film leader to the take-up spool. Photographers would simply insert the cartridge, close the camera, wind and shoot – it was impossible to get it wrong with the cartridge fitting only in one direction.

Despite not having new film available for more than a decade now, some photographers still like to use 126 format film today. Even if you’re not shooting 126 film, the old cartridges can be used as the basis for DIY pinhole cameras and you can even load them with fresh 35 mm rolls!

Anything missing?

Can’t find an answer to your question? Or do you have some useful advice to add to one of our courses? We want to build the world’s largest analogue learning space, so please send any further requests or information to school@lomography.com and we’ll take a look!

More Courses

  • What are the different photographic film formats?

    What are the different photographic film formats?

    The three main types of film format are 35 mm, medium format and large format. More unusual formats also exist such as 110 and 127.

  • What is tungsten film?

    What is tungsten film?

    Most standard films are daylight-balanced, so they tend to capture the yellow-orange cast from tungsten lights. To address this, tungsten film was created to produce color-correct images taken under artificial lighting.

  • What is APS film?

    What is APS film?

    Advanced Photo System or APS film was introduced in 1996 as a “high-tech” or modern alternative to the 126 and 110 film formats. It was 24 mm wide and it introduced many innovations, like the ability to choose exposure lengths and print sizes. Production of new APS film was ceased in 2011.

  • What is the difference between panchromatic and orthochromatic film?

    What is the difference between panchromatic and orthochromatic film?

    Orthochromatic film is made with blue-sensitive silver halide crystals, while panchromatic film adds other chemicals to increase the film’s sensitivity into the green and red parts of the spectrum.

  • What is a half-frame film camera?

    What is a half-frame film camera?

    Half-frame cameras shoot 18×24 mm photographs on 35 mm film. This means you can take up to 72 images on one single roll and save a lot of film!

  • What are LomoChrome films?

    LomoChrome is the name given to Lomography’s experimental film stocks. There are currently four LomoChrome film stocks available: LomoChrome Purple, LomoChrome Turquoise, LomoChrome Metropolis, and LomoChrome Color ‘92.

  • Where to get film developed?

    There are a lot of places that can process and develop your 35 mm color negative film such as local drugstores or one-hour photo labs.

  • What is the processing method for Redscale and LomoChrome films?

    All Lomography color films are processed using C-41 chemicals. This includes Lomography RedScale XR and our popular range of color-shifting LomoChrome films – LomoChrome Purple, LomoChrome Metropolis and LomoChrome Turquoise

  • What is cross processing?

    What is cross processing?

    Cross processing (or “X-pro”) is the procedure of deliberately processing film in a chemical solution intended for a different type of film. As each chemical mixture is optimized for a specific kind of film, you will get unpredictable results when combining them differently.