Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rolling 127 film

So you have some awesome cameras, classic or vintage (yes there is a difference) and you have been buying Efke or Adox b&w film. But you want colour. Black and white is amazing but doesn't show the sunset's colours or your lizard's amazing orange. But as 127 film was officially discontinued in 1995, where do you get colour 127. You can buy old films but their colours are unstable as you do not know how the person who sold it to you has stored it. Sure he says her kept it refrigerated for 20years but can you really trust that? What else is there?

Well not much really. You can source (rarely) konika colour film in 100ft rolls but did you your kodak still makes portra NC in 127 size. It's called 46mm film. Trickery at it's best!! Ok so you spend the $60 for 100ft (30m approx) for your fresh portra NC. it arrives in this really cool box.

30.5m of film goodness
You almost feel professional.. After all it's a pro pack :-)
Inside is a tin. A sealed Tin. If the tin is not sealed, return it. (unless you bought it advertised as partly used. Of course)

Portra 160NC

Now what.?

Ok now we need;
1 x dark room or bag ($25) eBay
1 x scissors
1 x spool of tape. (I use electrical tape )
lengths of aluminium foil cut a little wider than a spool and long enough to roll a spool up.
Several 127 spools
Several 127 backing papers.

You have been saving the spools and backing papers from your b&w haven't you? ( or requesting the return from the film place if you don't develop your own)

If not, stop here and come back when you have a few papers and spools.

Film rolling supplies

Ok gather everything listed above except the foil.


Grab your backing paper and unscroll. Have stuff heavy enough to hold it unrolled.
Look for the the markers on the backing paper indicating the start of the film and the end.

All brands are slightly different but there is usually a line or some marker.

Put tape a the start and end of the paper, you can use a paperclip or something else but I use tape as it doesn't move from it's place. Roll the paper in the correct direction so you start is the outside.

Tutorial and trim it to be neat.

Unseal the film but don't open it.

Place a spool, a paper, the scissors, cut tape (several pieces) and the unsealed film into you light proof bag ( or set up in your dark room)

Seal and let's use touch.. From here on, I am going to use a soiled film to show you what we are doing in the dark.

In the sealed dark bag!!!

Feel for the tin of film and open it. There is an inner bag and tape holding the end of the film. Take out of the bag and remove the tape. Set these aside. Use the tin to store the spool so it doesn't roll away (especially is you have several in the bag at once.)

Partly unroll the paper. You are now feeling for the start tape marker, when you feel it, get your big roll of film and match the end of the film to the start marker. Tape it down.


Rolling the paper up, line the film along the paper you are now feeling for the end marker. Your film should line up nicely on the backing paper and roll up in your left hand (if you are right handed).

When you have reached the end marker, you carefully cut the film. Not the film and paper!! And use I have done this accidentally. Grr.


Ok now we have a rolled film on the backing paper in our right hand and still a bit to roll so roll up the paper to the end. Place the big film roll aside, and if you can juggle it, store it in the bag you took it out of ( just to be safe don't want expose 100ft of film accidentally, if it can happen, it will.)


Find the spool, and feel for the big slot. Some are obvious, some are not.

Insert the end of the paper into the big slot pulling it through.


Start winding back towards the start. Make sure the label ( if there is ine tucks in. Feel for the untaped end of the film.

Important find the end of the film and tuck it in otherwise this while thing unravels quite quickly.


After ensuring the tail is tucked in keep rolling but don't over tighten the film (it'll scratch)

Getting to the taped start of the film, feel gently for a bulge. Sometimes there is one, sometimes you get lucky. Untape the start and stick down again. Keep rolling the leader.

Tape the film closed.


Ensuring the 100ft roll film is sealed up in it's bag and tin again, you can open your dark bag.

Your film is ready to go into your camera but if you want to start it, grab your tin foil and roll it up and place in the fridge.

Yay!! Lots of colour film for you shooting pleasure.

Lots of self rolled 127 COLOUR film

If I am not clear on a step or you wish me to expand on anything please let me know.
Also if you find slide film even expired slide film in 100ft (or 200ft) rolls please tell me!!!

Now go outside and play.


  1. Kodak discontinued 46mm films about two years ago.

  2. Yes but its still freely available and still cheap. PLUS you can buy Efke, Rolei and Adox for 127 if you like.

  3. You can't. The actual manufacturer, Efke in Croatia, went out of business in the middle of 2012. At the moment the only producers of 127 film are The Frugal Photographer in the US who produce colour print film, plus Ilford in the UK have 50 feet rolls of 46mm wide HP5+ suitable for spooling onto 127 backing papers (not supplied) as part of their ULF annual programme. This closes at the end of this week.