Monday, 4 January 2010

Imperial Satellite II 127 Camera

A great little plastic camera made in the 60’s by the US company “Imperial Camera Corp”, this one is apparently the “New Improved Model!” as it said in the box, it came with the original instructions and flash unit which is exactly the same as the original 60’s Diana F, it operates with 2 batteries and flash bulbs. At the front of the camera a little switch changes to colour or B&W mode. In fact what it changes is the aperture size that can be useful nowadays as a “cloudy” and “sunny” settings.

The only problem is that it takes 127 film which can be quite expensive to get hold of since it has no longer been produced. At the average cost of £5.00 for a new B&W film you can take 12 4x4 shots per roll, just to compare you can get 16 shots with a Diana at average £1.70 per 120 film which still wide available it’s definitely something to consider. Not to mention that if you don’t process the film yourself, you might drive the lab’s owner crazy (some of them have never heard about 120 films before imagine 127!) Of course you can find some (much) expired film on ebay and its fun to try but it’s not always available.
I didn’t want to wait and decide to respool some 35mm film onto a 127 spool and had a go. I’ve seen some people doing the same with 120 onto a 620 spool so it should work. I had some old 127 spool from previous films bought on ebay and luckily the back paper as well. All I did was to use a spare 120 back paper and cut the exactly size as the 127 and marked with a pen the frame numbers on the new back paper. In total darkness I cut some fresh Kodak 35 mm film enough to cover the length of the 127 film area and loaded into the spool. Simple isn’t it ? Not really… it turns out to be my first film disaster of the year. The film went out of the paper inside the camera and got overexposed and nothing came out when it was processed. I had another go but this time I made sure I taped the film well on the back paper and the results are here.

I like the results, overall they're a bit dark but I have to try with a different film speed, also I didn't try changing the aperture switch as well. I’m a big fan of pictures showing the film sprockets/edges and these ones came out nicely, some images were a bit blurry due to camera shaking. Anyway...the main purpose of this test was to see how the film would run inside the camera rather than image quality.

The numbers I drew on the back paper were right, the frames were well divided along the negatives with just one overlap.

I used an original 127 film back paper as a template and cut a new one from a discarded 120 to cover the 35mm film, I then drew the frame numbers following the template so there were no problems winding the film (mind you there are few positions for each frame number so for each camera it might be different). I made a little cut on the new back paper to guide me in the dark where the fresh film should start.

And here's the film ready to be loaded ...