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Recently I was given an Imperial Satellite 127 camera as a wedding/moving away gift. I was pretty excited about it since older cameras have always interested me, but I've not ever owned one. Also, I haven't shot film since over 10 years ago when I was in a college photography developing film in the darkroom.

After I received it, I realized that this particular camera took a very uncommon film format, and it seems to be very difficult to come by (Here's a quick write up on 127 film). I've done some searching online and the only thing that looks feasible is this roll of color 127 film on B&H, but I would greatly prefer to shoot in B&W if at all possible. If not, I'll probably buy a few rolls of this color film.

I've also read a few things about people experimenting with other film sizes in 127 film cameras. Some will take a roll of easier to come by 120 film and cut it to fit, other will take a roll of 35mm film and just expose the while thing including the sprocket holes. Here's an interesting write up of both.

So, my questions are:

  • Where can I find some B&W 127 film? Online? There are no local photo places near me :(
  • Has anyone ever tried other film sizes in this camera or another 127 camera?
  • Does anyone have any other recommendations or tips for me as I start out with this camera?

Here are some photos of the camera I now own!

the box

the camera

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  • Maybe I'm missing something... but ebay? – rfusca Mar 16 '14 at 1:28
  • That is certainly an option, but wow that's expensive! $85 for 5 rolls of film seems pretty high to me. I see a lot of expired film for sale, how bad will photos turn out if I shoot with expired film? – CBarr Mar 16 '14 at 1:59
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    See this question – rfusca Mar 16 '14 at 2:48
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    It seems high to me too, but given the market, that may just be it. – rfusca Mar 16 '14 at 2:48
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127 film can be purchased, in colour only, from Bluefire Labs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Price isn't bad... the 127 film is $9.89.

At this point they appear to be the only ones making 127 film in any format, so unless you want to pay substantial ebay prices for end of life film (which may take interesting shots), I don't see better options.

EDIT

As a thought... you can always do what Bluefire is doing if you're willing to cut in the dark. Basically, get your hands on the parts (perhaps by ordering colour film from Bluefire) and then get bulk B&W film from an Agfa (if you can) and cut it yourself. I've bulked rolled film before, it's pretty easy, but I've never cut it for size.

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  • Shipping is steep from BlueFire, $11 shipping on a $10 roll of film. the film I linked to on B&H is $15 with $4 shipping, so it actually comes out about the same in the end :/ any recommendations between the two? – CBarr Mar 16 '14 at 20:43
  • @ChrisBarr - I think the shipping is $11, but not per roll, so unless you only want one roll... Anyways, I don't have a specific recommendation between the two. For myself, I would probably look to go the cutting route as bulk film is usually reasonable in price. – John Cavan Mar 16 '14 at 21:02
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A very late update: 127 film is now available, new, in both color and black and white, from Rera (Rerapan, ISO 100 B&W, and Rerachrome, ISO 100 color negative despite the name); it's available from B&H Photo and Film Photography Project.

Frugal Photographer also offers at least two color print emulsions in 127 (this is the Canadian-packaged Bluefire Murano).

My own preference, however, and the reason I'll always have film available for my 127 cameras, is to slit my own 127 from 120.

The cutting can be done in daylight, with a cigar cutter or utility knife (I've done it by rolling a snap-blade extended long on the roll on a smooth table top), or with any kind of sharp, thin blade if you have a means to spin the roll. There are also commercial 3D printed devices to cut the roll (one even respools the film in the process).

You need to ensure you keep the side of the 120 roll with the 6x4.5 framing track, in order to have the 6x6 framing track land under the center 4x6.25 window, and the 6x4.5 track land under the edge 4x4 window in your 127 cameras. For full-frame and half-frame cameras you will also have to mask the frame gate in the camera by a few millimeters to avoid frames overlapping by 4-5 mm (because the 6x6 track has shorter spacing than the original 4x6.25 track on "real" 127 film).

As a bonus, you can use any emulsion available on 120 film, and keep the 120 backing paper (which was cut along with the film); this will get you 16 frames of 4x4 or 12 of 4x6, instead of the 12 or 8 on original 127. And yes, the film and backing will (just) fit on the 127 spool.

I've done this a number of times, and it works fine in every 127 camera I've tried.

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