I recently saw a comment on Facebook by Nicola Baldini, one of the founders of Ferrania, that hinted at the possibility of their company creating 127 film in the future. You can read more about that in this article by Stephen over at Kosmo Foto. This lead me to today’s article. I want to share 8 great 127 film cameras so that you can prepare for the films return or even shoot with it in the meantime. You’ll see what I mean later.
What is 127 Film?
As Nicola Baldini said, 127 is the little brother of the 120 film format. It is a pretty old format that sits between 35mm and 120 created by Kodak in 1912 up until the 1960’s. You can still purchase some 127 film that has been cut from 120 from the Film Photography Project. I have shot with this film a couple times. I’ll be posting some reviews soon with this film and some of the cameras I am about to list, so be sure to subscribe to get my articles in your inbox.
Simple 127 Film Cameras
First up on the list are some of the more primitive cameras available to shoot 127 film. These are really simple with a price tag to match, but they get the job done.
- The Imperial Satellite 127
This is a nice simple camera. It can be likened to a toy type or a box type of camera with only two aperture settings to control exposure and a bulb flash on top. If you enjoy shooting with this type of camera then this is a great, and affordable option. They also come in several colors. What I liked about it was how small it is. Without the flash, you can fit it in your coat pocket.
I have reviewed this camera, so if you’d like to see some example shots, or read more info on it, click here.
- Kodak Brownie Reflex Synchro
The Kodak Brownie Reflex Synchro was my first ever antique camera. It is very simple with only an instant and bulb setting. Also, it’s named the Synchro Model because it could be synchronized with flash. It has a beautifully bright viewfinder, and is another great option if you’re into simplicity.
- Vest Pocket Kodak Model B
If you want something even older or if you just like shooting with folding cameras, the Kodak Vest Pocket camera may be right up your alley. It only has two shutter speeds like the others, bulb (T) and instant, but it does let you cycle through to change the aperture.
There have been many different variations of this camera such as the Boy Scouts version pictured below.
If you do buy one of these cameras to shoot with, make sure the bellows are light tight. If not, they are beautiful display pieces.
- Bell & Howell Electric Eye 127
The Bell & Howell Electric Eye is a simple camera with a really nice, large viewfinder. It’s historically significant because it is one of the very first commercially available cameras to come with auto exposure. Not unlike the 1980’s polaroid cameras, it has what they call an electric eye or selenium meter that reads the exposure for you and flashes a warning if there isn’t enough light in the scene. You can read more about it on Mike Eckman’s website.
Fancy 127 Film Cameras
Second up are the fancier cameras. These cameras focus more on design than ability, while also providing you with enough options to create some great photos.
- The Kodak Petite
This folder comes in several different colors and designs, some very hard to find such as the lightning design or diamond door. They even had a vanity set that came in a clamshell case with a tube of lipstick, blush and a mirror for ladies to carry in their purse. I am lucky enough to own most of these variations and have always loved displaying them in my collection. Soon, I will finally be able to shoot with some of them so keep an eye out for those articles.
Just like the Kodak Model B mentioned above, the Petites have only 2 shutter settings of bulb and instant, and a revolving wheel on the side that changes the aperture size as you change the number seen on the front. These were designed to appeal to women back in the 1930’s with several colors available.
- The Vest Pocket Kodak Series III
Like the Petite, the series III cameras are autographic, so they come with a stylus that would be used to engrave your film notes onto the film through a sliding door in the back of the camera. I think that was before film had paper backing, so you could engrave your note in between the frame-lines. They also came in several different colors that have a beautiful gradience to them such as my blue one below.
They have more controls than the previously mentioned cameras with shutter speeds from 1/10th of a second up to 1/100th of a second, as well as bulb and time. It also has aperture settings from f/32 up to f/6.3 at its widest. These are beautiful cameras to add to your collection and yet another one I can not wait to shoot with.
Advanced 127 Film Cameras
Finally, we have the more premium 127 film cameras. These carry a more professional build and advanced features, but with a bigger price tag.
- Rolleiflex 4×4 (Baby Gray)
The Rolleiflex Gray Baby 4×4 is the baby brother/sister of the full size Rolleiflex. From what I have seen online, it takes beautiful photos, which isn’t a surprise with a Rollei. You can check out EM’s results from Emulsive to see what I mean.
This camera is one of my grails. I have never picked one up because of the price, but I may need to start saving up soon if 127 film becomes easier to access. With its 60mm f/3.5 Xenar lens, small size, and beautiful gray color, it has always appealed to me. It has shutter speeds up to 1/500th of a second, and bulb. It also comes in black if you prefer.
- The Yashica 44
The Yashica-44 is the Japanese version of the Baby Rollei with a cheaper price tag, therefore the more common 127 camera you’ll see out there on review. Like the Baby Rollei, it has a 60mm f/3.5 lens, and shutter speeds up to 1/500th. You can actually shoot 35mm film in this camera as well with the sprocket holes exposed as you’ll see from Peggy’s review linked down below.
If you’d like to read more on the Yashica 44 check out Peggy Marsh’s Review and of course the encyclopedia himself has a wealth of info on Mike Eckman Dot Com. Theo over at Photo Thinking also has a review on another version of the 44, the Yashica 44A if you’d like to look into that one as well.
While we don’t know for sure if Ferrania or any other company will bring 127 film back the way other formats have, I think it’s clear that there are a ton of really capable cameras sitting out there just waiting to be used. I really hope they do bring it back because personally I want to try out several of those TLR’s.
If you don’t want to wait for 127 film to make its full resurgence back into our community, you can still take part in World 127 film day on July 12th. I think there is also an event on January 27th here in the states. Some labs will process the film still and home processing reels fit 127 film as well. I develop my own black and white Rera Pan and I am about to do an article on my first time processing E6 film with the Rera Chrome color slide 127 film. Pick up one of the cameras mentioned here and a couple rolls from FPP and give it a try!
Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.
If you’d like to purchase one of these cameras, here are some affiliate links to search results I have set up.
Imperial Satellite 127
Kodak Brownie Reflex Synchro
Kodak Vest Pocket Model B or the Boy Scout Version
Bell & Howell Electric Eye 127
Vest Pocket Kodak Series III
Rolleiflex Baby Gray 4×4
Kodak Vest Pocket Vanity Set