INSTAMATIC IS BACK, SORT OF.
A reusable cassette loading 35mm film in Instamatic 126 cameras: with FAKMATIC it’s possible. FAKMATIC is a reusable cassette that replaces 126 film cartridges which are almost impossible to find, often undevelopable, and always expensive.
RECOMMENDATIONS: The Instamatic cameras have a large transparent window at the back to check the film type, speed, and frame number printed on the 126 film. Cover that window with black tape or paper to prevent light from entering the camera.
CHECK THE SPOOL’s SPACING: in rare occasions the cassette’s spool sits loose in the camera’s cartridge slot. If this is your case, you’ll need that little round plastic washer that’s included in the kit: put it under the FAKMATIC cartridge right below the spool (don’t put it inside the cassette). With this additional padding the film advance crank will firmly engage with the spool.
SKIP THE READING, WATCH THE VIDEO!
If you don’t want to read long instructions or need to see how to accomplish all of the steps, *see the video-tutorial that shows the three processes: 1) loading, 2) shooting, 3) respooling.
Also check this very insightful video from Eduardo Pavez Goye (thanks a lot!!!) that goes into details on using this cartridge. Actually, his video is way better than mine.
With 135film in a ‘FAKMATIC camera’ you’ll get square photographs. The number of photos varies with the lenght of the mounted film. A 24 exposures film will hold 16-20 frames, depending on the winding mechanism and needle tighness (more on this in the detailed section of this page). It is recommended to use a 24 exposure film because a longer film will hardly fit in the cartridge.
LOADING THE FILM
The cartridge kit is made of 3 parts:
- the cassette,
- the take-up spool (+ the little optional padder described above),
- the film stopper
Open the cartridge and place the components in front of you. Keep in mind the position of all the parts: you’ll have to assemble them in the dark. It is recommended to load the cartridge with a 24 exposures film: longer films hardly fit into the cartridge and can cause film jams. Check where the film advance lever is on your camera: if it’s below (like in Kodak Instamatic 500), turn the spool upside-down so that it engages the camera’s advance crank.
- Take a 35mm film, cut it straight at the end and tape it to the take-up spool.
- Attach the film stopper at the end of the film, opposite side to the spool.
- TURN OFF THE LIGHT: from now on you must work in total dark.
- Pull the film out of the canister until the end and cut it. (but leave 2-3 inches of film attached to the canister for later respooling).
- Roll up the film and make a very compact reel, it must be as thin as possible. The roll will be wounded all around the film block, which will stai in the center. Insert that reel into the smaller space, and the spool in the larger space. Be careful when inserting the film in the central part: the slot around the framing area is very narrow.
- Put on the lid and make sure that it’s well closed (note that the cartridge has light leaks, keep the lights off).
- Load it into the camera and close it.
- TURN ON THE LIGHT.
SHOOTING, WINDING, FRAME NUMBERING
Now the fun part. Instamatic cameras were made to be easy and simple, often having very basic settings. Note that 126 film had particular perforations, with one registration hole per image: a needle entering into the film’s hole would stop the film at its correct position and arm the shutter. 135 film have completely different perforations, so the the needle will block the film before it reaches the correct position for the next photo. So, to avoid overlapping exposures, you have to take 2 or 3 “black” exposures (covering the lens with your hand) after every proper photo.
MORE ON FRAME NUMBERING
Considering it’s difficult to tell how much film is left in camera, it is important at least to know when it’s finished. This is where the film stopper comes into play: it stops the film from winding when it reaches the cartridge’s film slot. When you feel that it’s impossible to wind the film, it means it’s finished and it’s time to replace it.
ADDITIONAL TIP: In some older cameras (Instamatic 50) you can advance the film by keeping the shutter button slightly pressed: this trick disengages the needle that activates the shutter. The film will wind on freely until you release the shutter button. Activating the shutter mechanism normally takes another ¼ to ½ cranks of the lever, as soon as the shutter is armed by the needle that moves horizontally when hooked to the film’s perforation!
Film SPEED: some higher-end cameras can automatically set the correct film’s speed by “sensing” a notch that is on the original cartridges. The FAKMATIC has no notches: it’s up to you to load the film you prefer, so a fixed-speed cartridge would make no sense. Note that the default speed is around 400 ISO, but the typical 200 and 100 ISO film have been tested with very good results!
Consider the first roll a test: The frames will not have a consistent placement: some will be more distant, others may be very close. Also note that the 35mm film’s bottom perforations are inside the framing area: your photo will have sprocket holes on top.
RESPOOLING THE FILM
When the film is finished you have three options. A) Spool it straight into a developing reel! The developing tanks are easy to load and are light-proof. You can leave the film in there for later development. This option is the easiest if you develop your own film and you have the tank with you. B) Respool the film into the leftover 135 film canister. This is the best option if the film is going to a lab for development. C) put it in a light-proof box or in a cartridge like the AGFA RAPID, which are very easy to load.
HOW TO RESPOOL THE FILM INTO THE LEFTOVER CANISTER (option B)
The next operation must be done in total dark: your exposed film will be out of the cartridge until the following procedure is finished.
- Prepare a strip of adhesive tape.
- Open the FAKMATIC cartridge and take the film out (now it’s all rolled around the take-up spool).
- Tape the end of the exposed film to the one that is on the canister. Be sure it’s firmly attached and aligned as straight as possible.
- Start winding slowly and be sure that the taped part enters nicely into the canister. Keep on spooling until all of the film is into the canister.
YOU’RE DONE! TURN ON THE LIGHT AND SMILE. If you take the film to the lab for development explain that it’s not a normal 35mm film. Remember to tell the lab people that part of the exposure is in the sprocket holes area in case you want them to scan it or print it for you.
The Camerhack adapters come as-is and without warranty. Before use, check that your camera is still in good working conditions. The feed mechanism in cameras that were left unused for a long time can be very tight and cause a strong tension on the spools during the film advancement. Beacuse of the interaction between the 35mm film perforations and the shutter’s pin, the film may break along the sprocket holes. Use at your camera’s or film’s risk.
SHIPMENT methods and times
You can select the preferred shipping method at the checkout page: Registered Mail with tracking, or Priority Mail without tracking. Usually the kits are shipped within a couple of weeks: all kits are produced in small batches, assembled and tested one by one. Check the FAQ page for details.