Mr. Martin's Web Page - Camera Museum - 126 Cameras
Camera Museum - 126 Cameras
Copyright Mark D. Martin 2004-2022, All Rights Reserved

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126 cameras are near and dear to my heart. The first camera I used, a Kodak Instamatic 104, and the first camera that was mine, a Minolta Autopak 600-X, were 126 cameras that are in the museum. While 126 cameras were generally unsophisticated point and shoot cameras, many were quite sophisticated cameras capable of excellent results. The key to the 126 camera success beginning in the early 60s was easy loading, drop in film cartridges. The widespread advent of quick loading and autofocus 35mm cameras by the 1980s spelled the demise of 126 cameras (except on E-bay at bargin prices). Select a brand below. For detailed information, select "History and Technology."

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GAF Anscomatic Cameras

[GAF Anscomatic 726]
GAF Anscomatic 726 (Large Image) (Circa 1966) The Anscomatic 726 is a relatively sophisticated rangefinder 126 camera made in Japan by Petri. It has an Anscomatic 38mm f2.8-22 lens with shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/500 second. Close focus is about 2.75 feet. It took two 1.5 volt AA batteries I presume for the flash, and a PX625 mercury battery for the exposure system. The PX 625 mercury battery is no longer available and hence substitutes must be found. (See, e.g., 126 film cartridges are also not available. Some people load 35mm film into old cartridges as explained at The camera had shutter priority automatic exposure using a CdS meter. (The metering was not through the lens. There is a small metering cell window just above the lens.) To use shutter priority automatic exposure, set the aperture ring to auto, then select the shutter speed. The camera then selects the correct aperture. A needle in the viewfinder shows the aperture. You could also set the aperture and shutter speed manually. Focusing was with the rangefinder. Flash was with flash cubes. My camera is in good cosmetic condition. The rangefinder and aperture work. I cannot get the shutter to open although sometimes it's a tricky getting the shutter to work on 126 cameras without film. 126 cameras have a prong that goes down when the shutter is released so that the film can be advanced. As the film is advanced the prong pops up fitting into a hole in the film and backing. The prong appears to be working correctly. The original list price was $89.95. (camera-wiki.) As I write this in December 2022, that's equal to about $840 adjusted for inflation. The lens is listed as containing the radioactive element Thorium. ( While this is unlikely to be a danger, it can cause the lens to darken and develop a "warmer" tone. I likely purchased this camera at a garage sale many years ago. It has a handwritten $10 sticker on it. I don't know if I paid that much.
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Kodak Instamatic Cameras

[Kodak 100 Instamatic]
Kodak 100 Instamatic, very simple, fixed focus, fixed aperture, no exposure meter, with pop up flasholder taking single AG-1 type flash bulbs. Two shutter speeds: 1/90 second with flasholder down, 1/45 second with flasholder up. The 100 is apparently the first Instamatic for the U.S. market. The Kodak Instamatic 50 was released some weeks before that in the United Kingdom according to the fantastic site, Kodak Classics by Mischa Koning. According to the same site, the lens is a 43mm, f11 lens. According to Kodak History the 100 sold from 1963 to 1966 at a price of $15.95, over $100 in 2005 dollars. It was made in Rochester, New York. My 100 was purchased for $1.99 on July 18, 2005 at a Salvation Army store in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It is in good cosmetic and working condition with perhaps some leakage of the batteries. It came with a case and the instruction booklet. Oz Camera has a good explanation of the levels of sophistication among Kodak Instamatic models.
[Kodak Instamatic 104]

Kodak 104 Instamatic, This was the actual family camera I remember growing up and the first camera I remember using. I remember liking to take photos from an early age. My dad and I took this camera to Alaska when I was 13. I remember thinking how great it would be if we had a camera with a telephoto lens. The camera is still in working condition. The 104 is a very simple, fixed focus camera with two shutter speeds, 1/90 and 1/45 (for flash), and no exposure meter. It is essentially the same camera as the Kodak Instamatic 100 except it used the new flash cubes with four flashes per cube. According Oz Camera the 104 designation reflects the 4 flashes in a flash cube. The orignal non-X series flash cubes used two AAA batteries in the camera. Kodak History site states sold from 1965 to 1968 for a list price of $15.95, or about $86 in today's dollars. I have a second 104 purchased on eBay in good working condtion with a neat box. Instamatics and the flash cube were portrayed as the groovy, hip, happening thing in this television commercial.

[Kodak Instamatic 304]

Kodak Instamatic 304, according to Kodak History sold from 1965 to 1969. Made in USA. The retail price was $44.50, which according to the consumer price index calculator equates to an astonishing $275 in 2005 dollars. According to Chris Eve's Kodak Camera Collection, the Instamatic 304 has a Kodar 41mm, f8, fix focus lens (5 feet to infinity) and two shutter speeds - 1/40 and 1/90. It has an "electric eye" selenium meter which tells you if you need a flash cube (regular, not X). Flash range is 4 feet to 9 feet, except with high speed Ektachrome file where it is 8 to 13 feet. The film advance and shutter on my camera work. It takes two AAA batteries. The batteries leaked. While the contacts do not appear to be heavily corroded, the meter and flash cubes do not work. The camera was purchased July 2, 2005 for $5 with a Poloroid One Step at a local garage sale. It still has film in it and came with a case, manual and two flash cubes. The manual has a date code of August 1966.
[Kodak Instamatic 314]
Kodak Instamatic 314, according to Kodak History sold from 1968 to 1971. The retail price was $38, which according to the consumer price index calculator equates to about $178 in 2004 dollars. Compare this unsophisticated camera with the smaller, 3.1 megapixel Kodak DX6340 digital camera with a 4x optical zoom lens purchased in 2004 for $150. You get a lot more for less today! According to Chris Eve's Kodak Camera Collection, the Instamatic 314 has a Kodar 41mm, f8 lens and two shutter speeds - 1/40 and 1/90. It has an "electric eye" and a switch for focusing from 2 to 6 feet, and beyond 6 feet. It takes regular flash cubes. The film advance and shutter on my camera work. It needs two PX-825 batteries which are inserted into a compartment on the back left of the camera just below the the viewfinder. A button on the bottom, which can be rotated with a coin, locks and unlocks the battery compartment. There may have been some slight discharge from the batteries, and the cover to the shutter release is missing. The camera was purchased August 2, 2004 for $5 with two other cameras.
[Kodak Instamatic 400]
Kodak Instamatic 400, 1963-1966, Kodar 41mm, f11 lens, fixed focus, 1/40 and 1/60 shutter speeds, price new $52.50 (over $330 in 2005 dollars), mechanical automatic film advance, pop up flasholder taking single AG-1 type flash bulbs. (Sources: Kodak History, Chris Eve's Camera Collection, Oz Camera, US BLS Consumer Price Index. Takes two AAA batteries. Battery compartment looks clean. Selenium meter (unknown if operational). In fair cosmetic condition (slight corrosion on front and some paint damage on top edge) and good working condition. It still has film in it. Purchased at garage sale in July 2005.
[Kodak X-30 Instamatic]
Kodak X-30 Instamatic, electronic shutter, fixed aperture, fixed focus camera. Acquired in about 2001 at a neighborhood garage sale. In excellent conditon. Condition of meter is unknown since needs a 7R31 battery. Kodak History states sold from 1971 to 1974 at a list price of $38 (or $146 in today's dollars). The X designation means it takes "magicubes" which have a small battery built into the flash cube. The x-series ranged from very simple point and shoot cameras like the 44 or X-15 to a sophisticated rangefinder camera, the X-90, and single lens reflex camera, the Instamatic Reflex.
[Kodak X-90]
Kodak X-90, circa 1970, rangefinder, automatic exposure, adjustable shutter speeds, aperture automatically set, 38mm, f2.8 lens. Acquired June 2004 on E-Bay ($.50 plus $6 shipping). Excellent working condition except needs battery (PX-30) to test meter. Spring motor film advance. Kodak History states sold from 1970 to 1973 at a list price of $144.50, in today's dollars $617.38.
[Kodak X-90 Case]
Unique hard case for Kodak X-90 that fits directly over camera.
[Kodak Instamatic Reflex]
Kodak Instamatic Reflex, single lens reflex, aperture perferred automatic exposure (not TTL), adjustable shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/500, interchangable lenses, comes with 45mm, f2.8 lens. Made in Germany. First one acquired June 2004 on E-Bay. Very good working condition including exposure meter. Second one acquired July 2004 on E-bay for $7.50 with about $6 shipping. In good cosmetic condition. Have not tested meter. Manual included. Kodak History site states sold from 1968 to 1974 for a list price of $199.00, about $765 in today's dollars.
[Kodak Instamatic 500]
Kodak Instamatic 500, I have two of these in excellent working condition, both with cases, one with instruction booklet. 38mm f2.8 4-element Schneider Xenar lens (retractable for storage), focus by estimating distance, adjustable shutter speeds (1/30 to 1/500 and bulb) and aperture (f2.8 to f22), selenium match needle meter (no battery), ISO automatically set ISO 25 to 800, made in Germany. Very well built, nice feel. According to code in instruction booklet, manufactured in 1965. Kodak History site also says sold from 1964 to 1966 with a list price of $94.50, or $553.29 in today's dollars.
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[Konica 261 Auto S]
Konica 261 Auto S According to Instamatic Central produced only from May 1967 to January 1968. Coupled rangefinder. Cost $69.95 equal to $458 in 2008 dollars. 42mm f2.8 Hexanon 4 element lens. Seiko shutter 1/60 to 1/250 second. Also according to Instamatic Central, 7,416+ were made which I believe is quite a small production. Mine was purchased on eBay on 7-19-08 for $4.99 with $8 shipping. It comes with the case. The manual is available at It is in good cosmetic condition. It does not work properly. The shutter has occasionally fired, although at present it is locked closed. It has also been locked open. The focus towards infinity was very stiff but loosened up. The lens looks clean, but when the shutter was open it looked like the rear element had a significant chip. The rangefinder works, but there is considerable internal dust in the viewfinder.
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Minolta Autopak Cameras

[Minolta Autopak 400-X]
Minolta Autopak 400-X, while the first number in the 126 Autopak series, the 400-X was actually the last in the series being produced in 1973. Excellent information at the Manual Minolta site indicates the fixed focus lens had a focal length of 34mm and aperture of f8 to 27. The maximum aperture is significantly less than the f2.8 of the older Autopak 126 cameras below. Exposure is controlled with a selenium meter. This combined with the X series flash cubes means that the camera does not require any battery. The shutter speed is 1/90 second and 1/45 second for flash like the other Minolta 126 cameras. The button in front is to lock the shutter release to prevent accidental release. Made in Japan. Serial no. 167691. This camera was purchased on eBay on November 29, 2005 for $2.99 with $6.75 shipping. I was the sole bidder. The camera is new or nearly new in the original box with the wrist strap still in its original package, an unopened pack of film (Jan 1974 Develop Before date) and an unused flash cube. No manual was included, however. It is in great cosmetic and operating condition.
[Minolta Autopak 500]
Minolta Autopak 500, zone focusing, automatic exposure, 38mm f2.8 lens.
[Minolta Autopak 600-X]
Minolta Autopak 600-X, zone focusing, automatic exposure, 38mm f2.8 lens, magicube flash which will automatically fire when needed. This was my first camera. My dad and I forgot the Kodak 104 while on a trip to Arizona during Easter vacation. We bought this camera in Flagstaff, Arizona before going to Grand Canyon. I was 14. In addition to the original, I bought a second 600X with a case on eBay. Both work although they need batteries. Both have instruction booklets. The photo is from the instruction booklet.
[Minolta Autopak 700]
Minolta Autopak 700, rangefinder, automatic and manual exposure, adjustable aperture and shutter speeds, 38mm, f2.8 lens, very similar in quality to Minolta 35mm rangefinder cameras. Acquired June 2004, excellent working condition except needs battery to test meter. Leedar Photo Supply Co., Photographic Catalog 1967 ("Leedar 1967"), lists price as $69.95.
[Minolta Autopak 800]
Minolta Autopak 800, 38mm f2.8 lens, automatic exposure with CdS meter, self-setting shutter speeds of 1/90 or 1/45, variable aperture (settings not specified) automatically set (apparently coupled with distance setting), rangefinder focusing, automatic spring drive film advance, 124.5mm (w) X 78.3mm (h) X 58.5mm (d), 520g. I have two. One is in excellent working condition with batteries for flash and meter (two 1.5 volt button-type 825 batteries and one 1.35 volt RM625R mercury battery). The batteries leaked on the other likely damaging the electrical system. Specifications and photo from instruction booklet.
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Canon Canomatic and Autoload Cameras

[Canon M70]
Canon Canomatic M70, (1970) 40mm, f2.8 lens, selenium meter encircling lens, accepts screw on filters, close focus 1.2 meters, shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/500 visible in viewfinder and 1/800 unmarked, adjustable focus using distance scale, tripod mount, shutter release cable connection. Film speed from 64 to 160 automatically set. Uses regular flash cubes with automatic exposure based on distance. The Canon Camera Museum (under film cameras - other) explains that because the 126 cartridge system did not provide for an adjustable film plane, a longer focal length lens or greater aperture was not possible. Canon later discontinued their 126 cameras. (Originally, I thought Canon did not make 126 cameras. Thanks to Frank Calandra at The Photographic Historical Society in Rochester, New York for telling me about the Canon 126 cameras.) The M70 is essentially the same as the Bell & Howell Autoload 342 made by Canon except the 342 has a delta rangefinder focusing system. An underwater housing rated to 15 meters could be purchased for the M70. My camera was purchsed on eBay on 12-13-05 for $5.99 with $5.40 shipping (actual shipping was $8.50). It included 6 new flashcubes in their original packaging and an ever-ready plastic case. The seller even included a Vivitar 252 electronic flash. The camera and case are in excellent cosmetic and working condition. The only cosmetic distraction is security numbers engraved on the top of the camera. The meter works and the battery compartment is clean. Operates on two AAA batteries which were included. The batteries power the automatic film advance (works well but noisy) and are needed for the regular flash cubes. The shutter will not fire without the batteries.
[Bell & Howell Autoload 340]
Bell & Howell Autoload 340, (July 1966). The Canon Camera Museum (under film cameras - other) indicates 40mm, f3.5-22 lens. 3 elements in 3 groups. Two shutter speeds, 1/30 and 1/250 second. One 1.3 volt mercury battery for exposure meter (compartment in upper left of film compartment). Two AAA batteries for flash (compartment in bottom of camera). Focusing to 2.6 feet using distance scale. Film speeds of ISO 64 and 160 set automatically. Made in Japan by Canon for sale under the Bell & Howell name. Purchased 1-11-06 on eBay for $2.99 plus $4.99 shipping. In good cosmetic condition with working shutter. I have not checked meter or flash. Some corrosion in battery compartments.
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Yashica EZ-Matic Cameras

[Yashica EZ-matic]
Yashica EZ-matic, focus by estimating distance, aperture preferred exposure, selinium meter (no battery), 37mm, f2.7 lens. Fair conditon. Shutter is slow to close. New price in Leedar 1967 catalog was "under $55," case $10.
[Yashica EZ-matic Electronic]
Yashica EZ-matic Electronic, focus by estimating distance, programmed automatic exposure with CdS meter, shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 1/300 second, aperture range from f2.8 to approximately f16, ISO automatically set from 50 to 160, 37mm f2.8 lens. Comes with box and instruction booklet. Excellent cosmetic condition. Needs battery (6 volt silver oxide, Eveready No. 544). Shutter condition unknown without battery. Code in instruction booklet may indicate manufactured in 1968. Acquired June 2004 on E-bay.
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Olympus Quickmatic Cameras

[Olympus Quickmatic-EEM]
Olympus Quickmatic-EEM, focus by estimating distance, programmed automatic exposure with selinium meter surrounding lens, shutter speeds 1/40 and 1/200, aperture range not specified, 36mm, f2.8 D.Zuiko lens. Camera well made and in excellent working conditon. Similar Quickmatic-EES price new in Leedar 1967 Catalog was $59.95 including flash and case. See Olympus History for a comprehensive description of Olympus cameras.
[Olympus Quickmatic Instruction Pamplet] [Olympus Quickmatic Case]
Quickmatic Instructions and Case
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Mamiya Cameras

[Keystone K 1020 SLR]
Keystone K 1020 SLR. According to Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm, this cool looking camera was made by Mamiya. According to that site, the camera, introduced in 1966, was the world's first "Instamatic" single lens reflex. Specs: 48mm f2.8 lens, selinium meter (no batteries for meter), fully automatic exposure, aperature range f2.8 to f11 shown with a needle in viewfinder, shutter speeds unknown, two batteries for the non-X type flash cube. In excellent working condition. Leedar 1967 Catalog states price under $100. Includes nice leather case.
Argus 260, According to Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm, sketchy information indicates this 1964 Argus 260 may have been produced by Mamiya for Argus. See also It is made in Japan and Mamiya did not produce 126 cameras under its own brand name. Argus was a U.S. company with apparently no production facilities overseas. It has a "coated Cintar lens," lens cap, and a focusing ring from 3 feet to infinity. You estimate the distance. It appears to have a selenium meter. It also has a tripod mount. My Argus 260 is in good cosmetic condition. The shutter works. The battery compartment has significant corrosion. It takes two "N batteries." I purchased it on eBay for $4.99 with $6.01 shipping on April 11, 2005.
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Ricoh Cameras

[Ricoh 126C-Flex]
Large image with lens removed.
Ricoh 126C-Flex. (1969) Rikenon 55mm, f2.8 lens, near focus 3 feet, 126 single lens reflex, leaf shutter. Instamatic Central indicates the lens had 4 elements and the camera's list price in 1969 was $119.95. That's the equivalent to $645 in 2005 dollars! Takes special screw mount (not Pentax M51) 35mm and 100mm lenses. Shutter speeds on ring below base of lens with speeds of 1/300, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, B and an automatic setting. Aperature from f2.8 to f22 and "A" on dial in front of camera just below the TLS. Hot shoe, flash cube socket and flash socket. Light meter needle on top right of camera. CdS through the lens exposure meter which automatically sets aperture (i.e. shutter preferred) or aperture can be set manually. Meter works on a 1.3 volt RM675 mercury battery or equivalent. I tried a 1.5 volt LR44 battery and the meter was active and at least roughly accurate. The camera also takes a single 15 volt (yes, 15 volt, not 1.5 volt) battery which fits on left size of film compartment just above the RM675 button battery. Instamatic Central states this is a 504 or PX74 battery. In the manual it looks like a "W10" battery. This battery is shorter than an AAA or AA and longer than an N battery. This battery is for the flash cube. Battery compartment is clean. Made in Japan. Serial no. 31950. Lens serial no. 24478. Similar camera also sold as the Sears 126C-Flex. Tripod socket. Cable shutter release socket. Comes with leather or leather like case in good condition. Camera and lens in excellent cosmetic and working condition. Short, stiff film advance. Manual on line at Purchased on eBay on 12-24-05 for $12.54 plus $9.50 shipping.
[Sears 126 TLS Reflex]
Large image.
Sears 126 TLS Reflex. The Sears version of the Ricoh 126C-Flex above. Appears to be largely identical except for the labels and the Sears does not have a flash cube socket. In good cosmetic and working condition although I have not checked the meter. Purchased on eBay on 7-15-07 for $2.99 plus $7.99 shipping.
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Rollei Cameras

[Rollei A26]
Rollei A26 (1972-1976) (Large, Closed, Back, With C26 Flash) Excellent information at Camerapedia and Classic Cameras. The A26 is an ingenious design by Heinz Waaske. The camera retracts to a size not much larger than a 126 cartridge. The retracted size is about 9.4cm wide, 6.3cm tall, and 3.5cm thick. When retracted the lens is folded in and protected. To shoot you pull the camera open and the lens pops open. The shutter is the red button in front. To advance the film and re-cock the shutter you close the camera. When you open it again you are ready to shoot. An April 1974 magazine advertisement described the process as follows: "Pull ... Shoot ... Push! Simply Drop in 126 Cartridge Film and Pull ... Shoot ... Push! Add the Automatic Computer Flash and Pull ... Shoot ... Push! It's fantastic!"

The lens is a 40mm f3.5 Rollei Sonnar. You have to focus by estimating the distance. To make this easy there is a distance scale on top of the lens with icons for one person, two people and a mountain. An actual distance scale is on the underside of the lens. The one person icon is between 1.2 and 1.5 meters, the two people icon is about 3 meters, and the mountain icon is at infinity. The actual range is from 1 meter to infinity. Exposure is automatic from a CdS cell. The exposure range is from 1/30 second f3.5 to 1/250 second f22 according to specifications in the owners manual at There is no way to manually adjust the exposure. The camera required a 625 mercury battery. The C26 electronic flash attached to the side. It was over 7cm wide. It has rechargeable batteries which cannot be removed.

Coincidently, when the camera was introduced in 1972, Kodak introduced 110 format cameras. 110 cameras took over much of the 126 camera market although much better quality pictures could be expected from the over 350% larger 126 format. (28mm x 28mm = 784 vs. 17mm x 13mm = 221 sq. mm. 784/221 = 3.55) This camera model demonstrates that a 126 camera could be made very small. Heinz Waaske's retractable design was used for Rollei's own A110 110 format camera.

I purchased this camera and flash on eBay on October 22, 2006 for $10.50. I'm don't know what the shipping was. I'm writing this in December 2022. For some reason it took me 16 years to put this unique camera online! My camera is in very good condition. The shutter fires. The lens looks very clean. My camera had a mercury battery in it which, of course, was discharged. There was a little corrosion around the battery area. I have not tried any other battery. The battery apparently only controls the light meter since the shutter fires without a battery. The flash is, of course, dead. I assume it has NiCd batteries. You can't get to the batteries without dismantling the flash. Additionally, I do not have the AC charger for the flash.

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Zeiss Ikon Cameras

[Zeiss Ikon Ikomatic A]
Zeiss Ikon Ikomatic A. according to the Ken Lyndrups site the Ikomatic A was made in 1964-1965 in Germany by Bilora (K�rbi & Niggeloh, Radevormwald) and hence not directly by Zeiss Ikon. PhotoFex has a photo of a similar one with the Bilora label on it. There appears to have been three models: A with a hot shoe for electronic flash, F with a socket for an AG-1 bulb and a CF like the Bilora label camera above with a flash cube socket. It appears to have a selenium meter (no battery). (I'm not sure if mine is working.) To focus you turn a ring on the lens between a portrait figure and a mountain (infinity). Another ring around the lens appears to control the shutter - A for automatic daylight with a speed of 1/90 second and flash with a speed of 1/30 second. According to Instamatic Central the Ikomatic F has an f11 40mm lens with an original list price of $24.95. According to (in German) the A model had an f6.3 45mm lens. That site and another German site,, have the dates of manufacture as 1965-1967. Mine was purchased on eBay on 1-5-06 for $7.25 plus $5.36 shipping. It is in good cosmetic shape and the shutter works. All in all a much less sophisticated camera than the Contraflex 126 to the right.
[Zeiss Ikon Contaflex 126]
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex 126 (1967-1971) the only 126 SLR with a focal plane shutter. It does not have automatic mirror return. You push a slide on the back to advance the film and return the mirror. Carl Zeiss Tessar 45mm, f2.8 lens. Bayonet mount for filters. CdS meter using a PX 13 battery. Aperture priority automatic exposure. Set shutter speed from 1/30 to 1/500 second - aperture automatically set. Shutter speed dial surrounds shutter release and has cloud with rain for 1/30, a cloud for 1/60, cloud and sun for 1/125, sun for 1/250 and a race car for 1/500. Apertures visible in viewfinder. According to Instamatic Central with the Tessar 45mm, 4 element, lens the list price was $174.95, an astonishing $1,035 in 2005 dollars measured from 1967. Interchangeable lenses with a unique bayonet lens mount specific to this camera. Instamatic Central states that the lever on the right couples the aperture with the focus distance for flash photography. Made in West Germany. Serial no. N 86969. Lens serial no. 26532. As discussed at, it automatically detects the ASA (ISO) rating of the film which to my surprise several 126 cameras could do. My Contaflex 126 was purchased on eBay on 1-4-06 for $15 (Buy it Now) with $7.50 shipping. It is in excellent cosmetic condition and good working condition from what I can tell. The eBay description said the shutter was sticking. It was not closing at 1/30 second for me but after going through the speeds a few times it no longer hangs up. I do not have a PX 13 battery to test the meter. Since the apertures are set based on the meter readings I also can't check the aperture. (You cannot manually set the aperture.) Some minor corrosion on one side of the battery compartment. Additional information at Something Zeiss to Say and Camerapedia.
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History and Technology

126 cameras use 126-size film cartridges. While no longer manufactured by Kodak, the film is still available today at the Frugal Photographer which also contains excellent information about 126 film. A 126 film cartridge has film about the width of 35mm film pre-loaded into a plastic cartridge. The film has holes only on the top for film transport, unlike 35mm film which has holes on the top and bottom. A 126 frame therefore is slightly wider than 35mm film (about 28mm compared to 24mm). 126 film uses a square format, however, and hence a frame is not as long as a 35mm frame (about 28mm compared to 36mm). The total frame area is about the same with 126 film having an area of 784 sq mm and 35mm film having an area of 864 sq mm. Unlike later 110 and disc formats, quality enlargements of at least 8" x 10" can be made with both 126 and 35mm film.

126 film was introduced by Kodak in the early 1960s for ease in loading. All you had to do is drop in a plastic cartridge, wind until it stopped at the first frame, and shoot. With 35mm film at the time, you had to thread the film across the film support tracks and into the take up spool, carefully close the back of the camera, wind ahead two or three frames, and make sure the rewind knob was moving. While not extremely difficult, all of that can be tricky at first and slower. The quick loading 126 film appealed to many consumers, and 126 film was relatively popular well into the 1970s. Most camera manufacturers made 126 cameras. See Instamatic Central for an extensive collection. Two exceptions are, I believe, Nikon and Leica. Canon had a few - the Canon C30 (1966), M70 (1970) and Bell & Howell 340 (1966), 341 (1969) and 342 (1969). Canon had a quick loading mechanism for their 35mm cameras perhaps explaining why they were not more involved with 126 camers. The widespread development of quick loading and autofocus 35mm cameras in the 1980s, as well as competing cartridge formats such as 110 in the 1970s, likely contributed to the demise of 126 cameras.

Different manufacturers had their own names for 126 cameras. While sometimes used generically, "Instamatic" was the registered trade mark of Eastman Kodak Company. Minolta used "Autopak," Olympus used "Quickmatic," and Yashica used "EZ-matic."

126 cameras have a reputation for being inexpensive point and shoot cameras, and indeed the majority of the dozens of models were usually fixed focus, non-adjustable exposure cameras, with inexpensive lenses. They also did not have a pressure plate holding the flim plane flat. As can be seen in the 126 wing of the Camera Museum, however, there were several quality 126 camera model with features such as adjustable focusing including some with rangefinder or single lens reflex focusing, manually or automatically adjustable apertures and shutter speeds, exposure meters, shutter speeds or apertures shown in the viewfinder, and automatic film advancing. The Kodak Instamatic Reflex even had interchangeable lenses. Therefore while 126 cameras never reached professional quality, several were quality, precision instruments capable of excellent results.

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