Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Black and White by Technicolor

A few weeks ago I picked up a camera that was listed as a disposable 126 camera, for a measly $2 - the Technicolor Techni-pak 1. The box was reason enough to buy the camera:

Looked to be from the 1970s, possible early 1980s, maybe filled with popcorn or circus peanuts. It's one of those deals where you buy the camera, take your shots and then mail it back to them. They send you your prints and a reloaded camera, repeat forever until the company no longer exists or doesn't care anymore.
On the back of the camera, it said "X-1 emulsion". No idea what this means. I asked around and did a little research on the Web, and kind of figured that, being a camera made by Technicolor, it was probably loaded with old Technicolor movie film. And after reading a bit more, figured that the movie film was most likely Kodachrome. There was approximately one place on the entire planet that still developed Kodachrome, in Kansas, and I don't think they do it anymore. (*edit* They do still develop Kodachrome.) I wasn't to keen on spending $30 to develop a roll of film, anyway. So what do I do? Rip it open, of course!
This is the camera out of the box.

A very basic fixed focus point and shoot. It does have two settings for Bright and Cloudy. And a film counter on top. That's about it! Cool looking little beast, too. Vintage modern. Okay, since I wasn't worried about killing the color film inside, I tore off the sticker on the back that had some directions and mailing addresses on it (for some reason, I didn't think to take a picture of the camera before I did this). The back was simple to open. Just used a screwdriver to pop the sides.

Easy as pie. And...what's this? 126? Do I see 126? NO! Hooray. It's actually a 35mm camera! Makes this camera much easier to use. I'm still working on making a reloadable 126 cartridge using 35mm film. The film is the same size, but the sprocket holes are different. This, I can deal with.

Interesting, too, that there is no film canister. Just a plastic ring to hold the film and a take-up spool to which it is taped. I cut the tape off of the spool and yanked it out.

Surpise number two...35mm camera. I see a square.

Sweet! A square 35mm camera! I guess I could have figured this out by the box that said 3 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch prints. Wasn't expecting it, though, and was feeling a bit stoked. Little tiny square shots on 35mm film? Gotta be crappy. Cool.
Okay, time to replace the film. I wanted to shoot black and white, of course. Used a roll of cheap 100, 24 exposures. I knew I'd be doing part of this in the dark because of the lack of film canister, so I did as much as possible with light.

Simple enough. Tape the end and tape it to the spool. This part was a little dumb in retrospect, as I discovered that you can remove the spool by pulling up on the winder. But I didn't figure this out until I finished my roll. So the next part I did in the dark. I pulled the film out of the canister, cut it, and then wound it tightly and stuck it in the little plastic ring that came with the original film. Snapped the cover back on and there it is, ready to use!

Before I jump into that, though, I had better read the instructions. Very important, you know, as the camera is a bit complicated.

Well, turns out it is a bit more complicated than I expected. There is a funny white button on the back. What you do is wind the film, which locks in it place. Then you take your shot. Then you press the white button to wind to the next shot. You can take as many shots as you want on a single frame, but you can't advance the film to the next shot until you press the white button. Okay, not so complicated. just odd.
I was also trying to figure out how to reset the counter. Doesn't seem possible, but it does just keep going around after it hits the 20 mark. I could probably wind forward and take shots without film to get it back to zero. Or I could just guess how many shots I have. I managed to get 19 shots, with probably six shots left that i missed out on. The counter doesn't seem particularly accurate. Anyway, headed towards Globe with sol exposure, ended up spending most of the day in Miami (Arizona), an interesting little ghost/mining town. Lots of neat abandoned building and houses falling down mountainsides. I took the Techni-pak 1 with me, as well as 5 other cameras. I kind of didn't try too hard with the Techni-pak 1, since I had no idea how it would shoot. Turns out, it's an excellent little piece of plastic, with trademark toy camera qualities. Enough talk, more pictures!

Nifty! Has great falloff and vignette along the edges. Grainy, of course, considering the size of the negs. My first true 35mm toy camera. Some people consider Akiras and other cheap 35mm cameras to be toy cameras, and maybe they are, but they don't have those toy camera qualities that I enjoy. This camera does! I will most definitely be taking this out for more use. It's so small, it fits in my pocket. Sweet results. Easy to use. Yep, another catch...for only $2! Unused!
One thing to note about it, the aperture setting actually seems to make a difference. The Bright setting is about half the diameter of the Cloudy setting. Some of the shots I took in full daylight on Cloudy were very blown out. Little detail and little contrast. And, typical of a toy camera, the shots I took later in the day after the sun was behind the mountains were very underexposed, regardless of aperture. Still, I give it a thumbs up. For the two other people in the world that might have one or be able to find one (and only one person will use it...the other will leave it on a shelf).
I'm working on a few other posts here in the near future. One will be on Polaroid Type 47, which will be fairly involved, covering my learning curve and the camera used, etc. I also ran a color roll through my Fuji Nature Classica. I prefer black and white film in the camera, but that's just what I like. More on that later. I guess I still need to talk about my stereo/panoramic pinhole at some point. School starts next week, so I'm not sure how busy I'll be. Still need to find time to shoot! Seeya.


  1. Damn, having a 35mm that takes square pictures would be cool.

    1. Two other cameras I can think of give you square-35: the British Shackman AutoCamera Mk. III from the fifties, and the Czech Flexaret VII from the early seventies. Neither is anywhere near a 'toy' camera though... The Flexi is a TLR [regular 120 spool] that can take an optional 35mm insert set complete with masks for the finder, and the Shackman is a hunk'a'metal bulk magazine industrial/military motor drive mounting potentially VERY pricey [especially today] glass from the likes of Dallmeyer, Ross or Cooke... WAY cool, yeah, but as they say, a different kettle of fish.

  2. I've been following your site for a while and I love how systematic you are at posting photos of and by cameras you acquire. I'd love to see a post of how you display your whole collection of cameras. Judging by this blog and your flickr, you must have enough to open a museum!

  3. Cool camera and pix, though you should have tried to use the Kodachrome, if that's what it was - Dwaynes does still process it and the turnaround is about a week!

  4. wow, that's cool! wish i would have found one of those along with the 110 and 126 cameras i found when i was back in the states over xmas.

  5. love that teepee shot!

  6. Woo hoo! Just landed one of these bad boys myself; same $2. What you didn't share was the big news that the Techni-Pak I is an $8.95 value! Score!

    Thanks for posting all the reload instructions. Made loading it up a snap. Speaking of snap, I can't wait to go shoot with this little thing.

  7. Where can I find one of these cameras? Anyone?

  8. someone told me they picked up a couple at a flea market for cheap. i've seen them on ebay since i got this one, as well. they have different boxes sometimes.

  9. Oscar.8:23 PM

    i actually came upon one to. it looks like a nifty little thing, havnt used it yet. Thanks for the info though very very helpful

  10. I just picked up one of these at a Goodwill store, still in the box, camera all still sealed in plastic. Like you, I just couldn't resist the attractive (?) packaging. Hadn't really thought about trying to USE it yet, but then again I've only had it for two hours! i doubt the film inside would be Kodakchrome. Not for an outfit sending back prints -- pretty expensive to process Kodakchrome transparency film then print it! Not to mention the slow speed and minimal latitude of slide film. Would make it a poor choice for a point and shoot. My guess is an imported C-22 process film or perhaps one of those other "motion picture sold as still film" deals of the 70's -- remember 5247, 5254 and the others of that Ilk? Dale labs was one of many who sold the stuff along with it's special processing "get slides and prints from the same roll" I still have a few rolls in the fridge in the basement. I recall the ol' saying "News photographers use 5254 'cause it gives them redder blood and gore" Heh-heh. Those were negative motion picture films which were used to make positive copies for projection. so they could use the negs to make prints AND slides. I'll try to remember to pop back and report if I get around to giving this one a try.

  11. Thanks for the post on the Techni pak.. I have an old photo of me as a kid taking a picture and could never figure out what camera I was using!.. Well now I know! and may I also add I will be keeping my eye out for one of these bad boys... Feeling a little nostalgic I suppose :)

  12. looks great Sean - I wonder if they are available on this side of the pond?

  13. I just opened a box of my granfather's stuff, who has been deceased for a few years, and found 2 of these in original packaging still enclosed in the plastic. It is very difficult to find information about this particular camera.

    I want to know if they are worth selling or if I should just pop them out of the plastic and use them.

  14. Nice write-up. Thanks.

    Gabriel Velasco
    flickr: Gimel Vav gvelasco