Every year on the 12th of July, photographers celebrate World 127 Day. They load 127 roll film into vintage 127 cameras, shoot photos, and post the results on the Flickr 127 film group. This year is different, however, because 127 film is 100 year old. Kodak introduced the 127 format in 1912 for their Vest Pocket Kodak.
Since 1912 127 film has had its ups and downs. After losing some popularity to other formats, it experienced a revival in the 1950s with an explosion of new cameras. There were high quality Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras like the beautiful Yashica 44 as well as host of strange plastic toy cameras like the Imperial Satellite 127. Popularity waned again in the 1960s as Instamatic cartridge formats like 126 and 110 took over the low end camera market.
It looked like the end for 127 in the 1990s. First, it was dropped from the ISO 732 Medium Format Standards document in 1991. Then Kodak announced the end of 127 film production. Most other major film manufacturers followed Kodak’s lead.
Camera collectors persevered, continuing to shoot with expired films, cut down and respooled 120 film, or even 35mm films (for that nifty sprocket hole look). It was clear there was still a market for 127 film. Smaller companies noticed and are now offering products to fill the need. The most well known modern 127 film is, of course, Efke R100 black and white film, made by Fotokemika of Croatia. There’s also Bluefire Murano 127 color film offered by Bluefire Laboratories, in Canada. Rollei Retro is now offering black and white as well as redscale 127 film (rumor has it the Rollei films are made by Fotokemika and Agfa but I’ve not seen anything definitive on this). There are more 127 film choices today than there have been for years.
Tony Kemplen (known as Pho-Tony on flickr) is celebrating the centenary of 127 film by shooting with as many different 127 cameras as he can during 2012. You can follow his progress on his blog, 127@100.
Tony’s example should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Select your film of choice and load it into your favorite 127 camera. World 127 Day is here and it’s time to shoot!