Introduced in 1969, the Colorpack II was the first color-capable Polaroid camera to retail for under $30. It features a rigid body and uses spreader bars instead of rollers. Focus is strictly via a distance scale.
Today was a nice sunny day, so I loaded mine with a pack of Fuji FP100c and took it along on some errands. I'm very happy with the results and hope to have them scanned soon.
On the heels of the success of the SX-70 instant camera, Polaroid needed a mass market offering. Folding SX-70’s were marvels of technology and beauty, but they cost an arm and a leg.
Enter the One Step. Introduced in 1977, it was a simple rigid-bodied camera using the same integral film technology. It featured a plastic fixed focus lens, electronic auto exposure, and a socket for a flash bar. Each flash bar featured 10 bulbs to match the 10 exposures in the film pack. The One Step was a snappy dresser, with a black body, white face, and 70’s rainbow accent. It would define the basic shape of a Polaroid for the rest of the company’s history.
One Step on a 600 – shot with the Polaroid Sun 660 Autofocus
Unlike most of my Polaroid collection, this one is a family heirloom. It was our family Polaroid when I was growing up, and my parents made me a gift of it for Christmas a year ago. One Step cameras were shipped in a few custom badged versions; my BC Series indicates that it came from our local Kmart.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with Impossible Project film. I haven’t been able to achieve consistent results in the past, but their latest offering seems almost as good as original Polaroid. It took me a couple of shots to get the exposure adjustment dialed in, but I’m very happy with the results.
Beth and I took the One Step and my Spectra on a trip to Worcester this week. In use, it’s fun and simple. Point, click, picture. My only negative reaction is that like all non-folding Polaroids, it is a bit large and awkward to carry around. Fortunately it’s not very heavy and has a built-in neck strap. I love it, and it produced some of my best Impossible results to date.
Use Other Door
I’m not sure about the bomb, or why it’s pointed in the wrong direction.
Polaroid 1000 (international version of the One Step) at Camera Wiki
It occurred to me recently that I hadn’t showcased any of my Polaroid pack-film cameras. They are uniquely physical and satisfying to use. My collection includes a pair of cameras with family history; Dad bought the 230 when he returned from the army, and Gramp bought the 220 for a trip to Bermuda. As it was snowing heavily, neither of them was coming off the shelf. The 250 was in hiding, the 420 is Beth’s; the Colorpack II is cool but I felt like a rangefinder; the Countdown 90 isn’t working. I have a pair of thrift store 103’s though. . .
Manufactured from 1965 to 1967, the Polaroid Land Automatic 103 is a simpler variant of the 100 series RF. It has a 114mm f/8 lens with an automatic electronic shutter. A simple slider selects between two apertures for either color (100ASA) or B/W (3000ASA) film. The rangefinder uses separate focusing and viewing windows, and it folds inside the camera when closed.
I dipped into our stash of Fuji FP3000b for some snow shots. I’m going to miss this film when it’s gone.
Like most Land Automatics, the 103 is mechanically complicated to use. The front slides out and locks. Focus is accomplished with a sliding bar which moves the lens board back and forth. The shutter is cocked manually with a lever on the right side of the lens board then tripped by a button on the camera body. After exposing, you pull a paper tab on the right side of the camera then pull the print out of the camera. The spreader rollers make a nice ringing sound. Modern Fuji film is self-limiting, so timing print developing isn’t necessary.
Polaroid simplified the process by numbering each of the controls. I disagree with their operating order though. The manual recommends leaving the shutter cocked, presumably so you won’t miss a shot. As an owner and user of many old cameras I prefer not to leave any springs compressed, so I arm the shutter immediately before shooting.
I’ve recently completed conversion of all of my pack cameras to modern batteries. My first two shots with the 103 were junk, and I thought I’d done something wrong. Upon investigation I found that I’d simply left the exposure ring set too dark. After a quick adjustment, they were fine.
If you want one, you have lots of options. I find pack cameras and the 103 in particular to be frequent thrift-store bargains. Neither of mine cost more than $12. If you just have to get your hands on one today, try eBay. Most any example you get will require conversion to modern batteries, but the process is easy. Google can help, at least until I get around to writing the article.
Shooting with the SX70 was fairly easy. The camera is held at an odd upward angle in order to keep the lens perpendicular to the ground. The split image focus was easy to work with, although it is located near the bottom of the viewfinder instead of in the center.
I soon discovered that even with the ND filter in place I had to set the exposure wheel two clicks toward darken in order to get proper exposures. Occasionally the mirror would lock up and the camera would refuse to fire, but another press of the shutter button would release it. About half of the time it would eject photos with enough violence to toss them completely out of the camera.
It won’t be an everyday shooter for me, but at 41 years old it’s entitled to a few quirks. I had fun with it.
In 1972, Edwin Land and his Polaroid Corporation introduced a revolutionary camera. The SX70 was potentially the iPod of its time, a whole new way of doing things. A press of the button produced a color image with no photo lab, no timing, no cracking and peeling. The picture simply happened automatically.
It wasn't cheap, but ol' Ed made you think it was worth it. The camera was a masterpiece of industrial design, a futuristic leather and stainless steel folding wonder. When closed, it was not much larger than a paperback book. (There are reports that Mr. Land had his suits tailored with extra large breast pockets so he could whisk an SX70 from his jacket like a magician.)
The SX70 system would be the father of a series of folding cameras and lesser box cameras, many with auto focus and all with automatic exposure systems. Though its descendants would still be in production 40 years later, their immediacy would eventually be eclipsed by the digital camera.
My example is the less expensive Model 2. Introduced in 1974, this folding manual-focus SLR gave up its stainless steel in favor of white plastic and a slightly more bargain price. I bought it locally via Craigslist, and it still has its original leather case. This is a good thing, as early SX70s lacked both strap lugs and tripod sockets.
I've loaded it with Impossible PX680 Color Protection, and I've installed a neutral density filter on the pack to compensate for the faster modern film.
The Camera Wiki page is slightly outdated as regards current film alternatives, but it has a brief history and photos of the folding variants.
Mike Butkus has the manual, along with manuals for many different versions.
As of this writing, there are over 1400 of them available on eBay. If you are patient and smart, you can get a good example for short money.
The Spectra System was probably Polaroid's last great idea. It uses a slightly larger format than the SX70/600 series cameras, and it produces a rectangular image rather than square.
My Spectra II is a $6 thrift store find with sonar autofocus, autoexposure, built-in flash, and a self timer. It folds up nicely, and I've fitted it with an Impossible frog tongue. It has become my “go to” instant camera for integral film.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with The Impossible Project. I love that they are making film to keep these old Polaroids alive; I haven't had good luck with a lot of it, at least the color versions. To be fair they have been working to perfect their products, and they do keep getting better. I loaded my workhorse with their fabulous PZ600 Silver Shade black & white film and took it to Deerfield Fair one evening.
Good morning from the Chair Car Division
Mr. Ferris' Wheel
The Spectra can be used to easily make double exposures via a bit of trickery with the self timer. After using the self timer, the camera will not eject until the switch is turned off. If you close the camera before resetting the timer the electronics “forget” and the camera will behave normally when reopened. Take your second shot and Voila! double exposure.
If you want one, your best bet is a local thrift store. They tend to be loaded with these cameras, and they still work. Barring that, there's always eBay.
I have almost no photos this week, but not for lack of trying. I’ve been shooting an old pack of film in a newly acquired Spectra Pro, and the results are unpublishable. I’m not sure if it’s the camera or the film. I will have to do some testing.
In any event, yesterday I took my trusty 660 Autofocus and a fresh pack of PX680 Color Protection to work.
Downtown Medical Center
660 Autofocus / Impossible PX680 Color Protection