I’ve written a bit about 126 cameras before; for this session I chose the Minolta Autopak 400X.
Launched in 1972, the 400X’s claim to fame is its selenium light meter. It automatically selects between 1/45 and 1/90 shutter speeds based on available light. A mechanical system turns the viewfinder red if there is insufficient light.
I loaded an old Kodacolor VR cartridge and took it to Deerfield Fair last week. We shall see what returns from the lab.
This week’s toy camera is one of the most toylike I’ve used. The Snapshooter from the Plastics Developmemt Corporation of Philadelphia, PA was marketed as part of a club. It came with a 126 format cartridge of black and white film, although color was also available. Users were encouraged to return the film to PDC for processing, but the instructions did note that your local lab could also develop it.
It consists of a fixed focus, fixed aperture lens attached to a single speed shutter. This arrangement clips onto the film cartridge which also forms the back of the camera. Mine is held together with elastic bands as an added precaution.
My example came with a cartridge which had expired in 1974. I tried it anyway, but the results were unusable. I’ve reloaded it with modern Fuji 200 color, and I will be carrying it for the next few days.
In fine Kodak fashion, the X-15 was a camera for the masses. Wind, point, shoot. There are no settings to concern a photographer. The only choice was whether to use a flash or not.
I found that I worked through a 12-exposure roll very quickly once inspiration struck. It's a shame new film cartridges are no longer available. I developed at home using a Rollei C-41 kit and saved the cartridge for (hopeful) future reloading.
About half of my exposures were usable, but most required lightening in post-processing. I'm not sure if the film was too old or merely too slow. The brighter images show an interesting effect where the image continues into the film rebate at the bottom and sides. I'm not sure how this effect was achieved, but I did not crop it away.
Overall, the X-15 was a neat little camera but not especially memorable. Its obsolete format means it will spend most of the time on my shelf. If 110 film can make a resurgence, however, perhaps 126 will be back some day. We can hope.