I recently picked up a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 10, it’s a 110-format film camera that produces tiny negatives. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with it.
What made me fall in love with this pocket 110 camera was its uncommon visual appearance of it — it immediately attracted me. The second thing was the simplicity of the mechanism (just a few months ago I wasn’t familiar with anything other than simple point-and-shoot cameras), and the third thing that was attractive for me was the price — I believe I only spent 7 dollars on it.
Cheap, compact, and unusual looking were exactly what I was looking for.
110 format film first appeared in 1972. The format quickly gained popularity because of the compactness and simplicity of the cameras. Kodak launched the Pocket Instamatic 10 either in 1973.
The Camera has a 25mm, f/11 lens, optical viewfinder, a push lever film advance, and a window for frame count. Camera’s shutter has two speeds, one for normal conditions and the other for flash — however the Instamatic 10 itself doesn’t have a built-in flash, and so, if you’d like to take photos at night, you’d have to buy so-called “Magic Cubes” that you attach to your camera. As I know, you could also buy flash extender for your camera, if you could find one, since without an extender the flash cube can be too close to the lens which might result in red-eye effects on portraits.
I will be honest, what I love about 110 cameras most is their fascinating design and how tiny most of them are. You can’t even tell they are real cameras at first glance. Most cameras need a lot of space in the bag, but a pocket-sized 110 can fit anywhere. The Instamatic 10 quickly became my go-to camera.
110 format cartridge produces negatives like no other film. When I bought my “Kodak pocket Instamatic 10”, I didn’t think such interesting and original images could be taken with such a simple camera. I believe, If you love photography but want something compact and don’t want to adjust settings for every single shot and worry about whether what you’re shooting is in focus or not, or just love rare vintage things, the 110 format film camera is a perfect option.
What’s also impressive about 110 is the fact that film is protected in cartridge, therefore, if you have film rolls with different colors or ISO, you can swap them anytime (you will loose the film that is exposed in the open “strip” on the inside of a mid-roll cartridge, however!)
Nowadays, on market, you have two options to find 110 film rolls: one option is to buy old expired films on sites such as eBay or thrift stores, the Film Photography Project also has expired Fukkatsu film left, or you can buy fresh film from Lomography.
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They currently they produce 7 110 format film stocks:
- Color Tiger (ISO 200 color negative)
- Lomochrome Purple, Lomochrome Turquoise and Lomochrome Metropolis (ISO 100-400 special effect negative)
- Peacock Slide (ISO 200 color negative)
- Orca (ISO 100 black and white negative)
- Lobster Redscale (ISO 200 color negative).
When it comes to visuals of photos, I believe when you are talking about 110, you have to realise that it all depends on what type of photos you like personally. There are people who think that grainy photos look horrible, there are people who think the more grain, the better. There are people who dislike text on photos, there are ones that think it gives photos a special look. I personally love when a camera can produce photos like no other can.
When developing, you should consider how it’s going to get scanned. I’ve seen some photos that have huge white backgrounds and that’s not my cup of tea, and I’ve seen, well, my photos, that are scanned the way, in my opinion, 110 film looks the best – no extra backgrounds, just cropped perfectly where it should be cropped. Also you could have big Lomography text around the edge of your photos, or you might like to crop it.
When it comes to 110 it’s all about experimenting, you either get a captivating vintage-looking photo, or you might get something that wasn’t worth it at all, and at the end of the day it’s up to your taste if you like it or not.
Last month I was gifted a roll of Lomography’s Orca B&W film — but here’s the first downside to 110 film: when it comes to black and white negatives, it’s super hard to develop 110, black and white needs hand development, and almost nobody will do it for you. The second downside is the inability of these pocket camera to take photos at night without a flash, you need a decent amount of light to make your photo worth it.
So far, I’ve only used the Lomography Tiger CN200 film, both fresh and expired. I have no idea how the expired film had been stored, but if you want my advice, when it comes to Lomography Tiger I’d just shoot fresh. Most of my expired negatives came out either blank or extremely dark. Fresh Tiger, on the other hand, is one of my favorite things — every photo looks like a postcard. One of my favorite shots is the one I took from my friend’s flat’s window, I love landscapes and I think 110 format is a great way to capture cities.
I would say photographing with 110 format film has affected me and the way I have fun with analogue photography. For the past few years, I would just take random portraits of my friends with my point and shoot with any 35mm film I could find (this everyday habit didn’t change much, to be honest), but 110, which is always in my backpack, made me want to capture almost every detail I see around me. For example, I wasn’t really keen on capturing landscapes and architecture of my city and places I visit while traveling, but after I picked up this pocket camera I started noticing that even “normal” places would look unique captured on 110 film.
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Now that’s fun! Such 110 film cartridge cameras were extremely popular in the 1970s, in Germany we called them Ritsch-Ratsch-Kamera – because of the way their film transport works. My grandmother had such a camera back then, I think it was a Kodak. I like your perfectly imperfect, grainy results (I love film grain, too), Anna.
Interestingly, for those who develop films by themselves: Jobo has re-introduced 16mm spirals for their dev tanks, see
wonders. nice bak-in-time story. IT reminds me of the pleasure I got shooting 110 film with. a mini Voigtlander, which a used frquently. I always developed the b&w films myself. IT is cheap and there is nothing easier and rewarding thesame time. I recommend developing your own film. And a scanner provides you with the pictures you want to have. I used mine also as a sort of scetchbook, for my paintings; worked wonders.
I have several Instamatics in my Kodak collection. I have 10 unused flash cubes and the extender and a couple boxes of unexposed film. I even have a disc camera. Even though you can get film the problem is the extreme cost of developing and printing. Avoid Walgreens. Their third party company throws away your negatives and over charge. They don’t have prices posted and their people don’t know what the cost is. Shop for a mail in company or lab with a better price.
The Lomography Tiger film does look good! It seems there was a batch with a 2019 expiration date that had bad backing paper with lots of pinholes. Has anyone else encountered this? I have quite a few rolls of this I bought on Ebay, I guess people sold them off.