Film Photography

Happy 127 Day, and photos from last 127 Day

There are three 127 Days each year: July 12 (12/7 in European notation), December 7 (12/7), and today, January 27 (1/27). Last 127 Day I spooled a roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan, expired since 1981, into my Kodak Brownie Starmatic and took it for a walk along Main Street in Zionsville. It’s fitting to share the results today.

Kodak Brownie Starmatic

Sadly, every shot was badly underexposed. It’s possible that my Starmatic’s selenium meter is finally petering out. It would be understandable, as the camera is 60 years old. To protect the meter, I keep the camera in its case when I’m not using it. And the meter worked perfectly the last time I used the camera, just a couple years ago.

Perhaps this expired film degraded over time. Verichrome Pan is hardy, and I almost always have very good luck with it at box speed (ISO 125). That’s how I shot it this time.

Verichrome Pan

The freezing temperature that day is the most likely culprit, however. It might have interfered with the meter’s mechanical linkage or with the shutter, leading to these underexposures. I kept the camera warm in my coat when I wasn’t using it, but that might not have been enough. I’ll have to try again on July’s 127 Day, when it should be plenty warm. I have a roll of long-expired Kodacolor-X in 127 waiting its turn. I’ll develop it as black and white, as the chemistry to develop that film as color has been out of production for ages.

Verichrome Pan 127 backing paper

I developed the film in LegacyPro L110, Dilution H, for 8:30 at 20° C. This is my usual Verichrome Pan recipe. In general I prefer Dilution B. But with Verichrome Pan that yields a development time of just 4:15, which gives no margin for timing error. This film curled tightly, giving me a devil of a time loading it onto the developing reel. The developed film curled badly, too. I had figured I’d scan the film by laying it directly on the scanner’s glass, but the curl made that impossible. I lay the film between the pages of a heavy book for a couple weeks, hoping that would flatten it out, but no dice.

So I ordered a 127 film holder from Negative Solutions. The fellow behind this little company makes film holders for a number of scanners and defunct film sizes. He 3D prints them on demand. My 127 holder is two pieces of plastic, one you lay the film into and another you slide into a channel in the first to hold the film flat. Then you lay the whole thing inside the 120 film holder that came with my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II. The film’s curl made it difficult to load into the holder, but I managed it. From there, scanning was as easy as scanning ever is.

At least I enjoyed using the Brownie Starmatic. I always do; it’s why it survived Operation Thin the Herd. It’s my only remaining 127 camera. Even though all 12 images were badly underexposed, I was able to tweak VueScan’s settings to scan a usable image from each negative. Here are all of them.

Black Dog Books
One Nine Five
Sugar cream pie
Old Town Hall Center
Red brick building
Down Zionsville's main street
Site of First
the flower shop
Former church
Side of building
Box truck in the alley
Greek's Pizza

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19 thoughts on “Happy 127 Day, and photos from last 127 Day

    • Verichrome Pan is hard to kill. I look for VP no older than about 1980, and I shoot it at box speed. Most rolls behave like fresh film. This one and one other didn’t look fully right. The other one was a hot mess; this one was still pretty good.

  1. Doug Schooler says:

    Then that tells me my Starmatic is a shelf ornament. When I previously commented that my meter didn’t work you told me that the camera probably wouldn’t work. I now see that it will not give good results. Thank you Jim I enjoy the read!

    Doug

    • Yes, this camera really does rely on the meter. I’m going to try it again in warmer weather in hopes it was just the cold that affected this camera.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    I was reading this and started to think back on those beautiful little “Baby” Rollei’s and Yashica’s that had a high level of precision so you could shoot what they used to refer to as “Super Slides”! For those not in the know, you used to be able to shoot 127 Ektachrome or Kodachrome, and your processor would send them back to you in standard 2X2 slide mounts, with the film area being approx. a 1 5/8ths X 1 5/8ths square! Imagine a 35mm mounted slide, and then imaging the film area being square as big as the “long” side. They used to really light up the screen when projected!

    When I had my studio back in the 80’s, I used to have a 16S back for my Hasselblad, which shot 16 frames of 127 sized images, on a roll of 120. I also had a die-cut film cutter that you’d use on a light table, and position the film with the frame over the hole, and press down and cut the frame out. Needless to say, I also had a heat mounter, and a box full of the super slide cardboard mounts. I was muy in love with this for a while and used to shoot an extra roll of this on anything I was doing, and mount them up! After a while, I just ran out of steam and ended up selling the back, the screen frame guide, the die-cutter and the mounter to another photographer.

    I think one of the reasons I ran out of steam, was that if you were shooting full 120 anyway, why bother shooting a smaller frame just for a projection slide? I think if I had owned one of the “Baby” TLR’s, that might have been the thing I would have taken it with me a lot of places and shot a lot of slide film.

    One of those “lost eras”….

    • I’m familiar with the super slides! I’ve seen a few. I’ve even seen 828 slides, which are slightly larger than 35 mm slides simply because 828 doesn’t have any perforation holes. Even the 828 slides are a remarkable thing compared to the smaller 35 mm slides.

    • I remember that Super Slides were commonly sold at popular tourist sites. They were photos of the site so that a tourist without a camera could take home memories. As I recall, most were early vintage repro. film that faded or shifted color quickly.

  3. Roger james Meade says:

    Andy, I don’t think Kodachrome was ever available in 127 or 120. I shot a lot of Ektachrome and Agfachrome in my Autocord and Mamiyaflex, but never any Kodachrome. I didn’t care for Ektachrome because it turned blue on cloudy days. The Agfachrome was more saturated and looked good sun or clouds.

    • Andy Umbo says:

      Hi Roger! Not only was Kodachrome available in 120, it was also available in sheet film sizes in the olden days, a lot of sheet film sizes! From 3.25 X 4.25 to 8 X 10! I can tell you as an “old timer”.

      You are correct, tho, I cannot seem to find a reference to 127, so maybe it wasn’t available in that specific size.

      I can also tell you when I had my ad/photo studio in the 80’s, that Kodak tried to reintroduce Kodachrome 120. I actually shot about 10 rolls of it. Problem was, you had to send it into Kodak for processing, and it was easily between a 2-3 day turn around time! They were actually picking it up at local pro shops and, in the mid-west anyway, flying it every night to Findlay Ohio to get processed!

      Two problems with Kodachrome! 1st, The professional/ ad market, wouldn’t wait three or four days for turn-around, hence we all shot Ektachrome 64 (processed locally in 90 minutes dry-to-dry), and 2nd, Kodachrome 64 (the clean process Kodachrome) never looked as good as the original Kodachrome II. Lots of cross-over problems and way too much contrast. There was a lot of “lore” about this in the 70’s and 80’s, but the scuttle-butt was that Kodak was sending their “perfect” emulsions to NYC and LA, and a lot of other market areas were getting their film that was “out on the edges” of what was considered OK.

      None of my clients would wait for it, so I stopped shooting it. Magazine guys with long lead times were still enamored of the film, always saying that in 35mm, it “looks like you’re shooting 120!”. To that I say “not really”, it certainly had less granularity, but “blow-up” size was the real differentiation between 35mm and 120! I’ll tell you, whatever they did, 120 Kodachome 64 looked more like the old Kodachrome II, and would have been great to keep shooting it if I was in a different market!

      BTW, all pros I knew, always shot Ektachome with at least an 81A filter under strobe, and at least an 81 filter out doors. It was always a “blueish” film. Even Fuji Provia, which was made to emulate Ektachome, needed an 81A! The had to introduce Astia to match the coloration of the original Fuji RDP that everyone loved and had switched to Fuji for!

      Wow, too much typing…

    • I shot a lot of kodachrome 64 in my Rolleiflex in the 1980s and 1990s. it is gorgeous when projected. I projected it with an old Leitz Prado Universal projector, which I still have.

  4. Perhaps one of these days I’ll grab a 127 camera. There always seems to be a few decent ones out there when I’m scanning eBay. The one hurdle that I’d have to get over is the price of film, which is double to triple the price of equivalent 35 or 120 stocks. At least the film is still made…

      • Yeah. Expired 127 stock on eBay isn’t really cheaper, either. In fact, expired stock in anything isn’t really much cheaper these days. I remember when I got back into film last year (!) I was told to look for expired film to save money. I got a few rolls that were cheap. Now it’s generally much cheaper to buy new from B&H or Blue Moon.

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