Using 35mm in a 127 camera

While 127 film isn't realy that hard to get, it is only available in a very narrow choice of types. Sometimes it's nice to shoot something a bit different. Also for testing, you might prefer to burn half a roll of 35mm than your hard fought for efke 100, so I thought I'd see what happened if I loaded up one of my TLR's with HP5...

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To get the right length of film, I cut a piece of string measured against an old 127 backing paper. I had a bulk pack of Ilford HP5 35mm film (iso400 b&w), so it was pretty easy to cut of just the right length. If you're using film from a canister, then you'll get two 127's out of a 35mm.

I cut a notch in the backing paper where the film needed to start so I could find it in the dark, and simply rolled the 35mm film and paper onto a 127 spool, taping them together at the appropriate point. Of course all of this had to be done in a changing back (or a good darkroom). Then the film could be loaded into a 127 camera as normal.

Camera Choice

As this is all wrapped up in a real 127 spool and paper it should work fine in pretty much any camera. The exception to this is the Rolleiflex, as this has a feeler to automatically detect the film - 35mm won't trigger this. I picked a Yashica 44, as it I wanted to test it anyway, and figured the 1/500th shutter speed might come in handy.

Results

It all worked perfectly (more or less). The negatives are exposed right to the edges (sometimes), and so I could choose to keep them in the final image (which I did for the purposes of this test - just to show that it is 35mm).

The two minor problems are a result of the film not being held as tightly as it should be. 35mm isn't as wide as 127, so the film can wander around in the gate. Aside from the unpredictability of framing, the top and bottom of the image isn't always square.

The biggest potential problem is that the film might not be held sufficiently flat that the image stays in focus. The jury on that is still out: In the image of the skooter at the top of the page, the image is generally very sharp, but there are area's which are more blurred than I'd expect. The apperture was f/8 here, and the depth of field is pretty tight, so it's not clear how much of the focus is simply regular depth of field and how much is the film.

When I used flash later in the evening the increased film speed allowed me to double the guide number on my flash (compared to iso100), and stop down to f/22 at distances of a couple of meters. This gave great depth of field, and meant I didn't have to worry too much about focus.

The slightly burnt out areas are the scan honest! (the print was fine).

Conclusions

It was a fun project, and worked fine. I'm not sure I'd want to keep the borders in every time, but they're a bit of a novelty. It's a quick and easy way to gain access to a broader range of film stock (without having to figure out a way to cut down 120). Next time I'll try in in a Brownie 127, as the 4x6 format should produce an ultra wide format format.

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