New Old Camera

Polaroid Automatic 103 Land Camera

I like to imagine that I have some level of artistic talent, but so far it just hasn’t really surfaced. I enjoy photography but I haven’t spent alot of time with it. A new camera has come into my life that may help change that.

The other day I was browsing through a local thrift store. If you are familar with Utah, you know of the D.I. (Deseret Industries). It is like a Salvation Army thrift store. Anyway, I found an old Polaroid Automatic 100. I remember my Grandpa having a camera like this. The price sticker on the camera was three bucks. Even if the camera was completely non-functional, it would still make a pretty cool office decoration. The camera that I found is like the Automatic 103 pictured here, but it does not have the flash attachment.

After getting the camera home, it appeared that the shutter, lens and bellows were in good working order.  To get it working all that I would need would be film and a new battery to power the electronic shutter control. This camera requires a battery that was unique. It uses an Eveready N0. 531, a 4.5 volt battery with clip posts on either side of the canister. After spending some time, I found a compatible battery at Battery Mart. A single battery was nearly three times was I paid for the camera once shipping was added. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The next item that I needed was film, or more specifically film packs. Polaroid stop making film packs a number of years ago. Luckily for me and other instant camera buffs, Fujifilm is still making instant film. I found on Amazon three types of film, FP-100B (ISO 100 B&W), FP-3000B (ISO 3000 B&W) and FP-100C (ISO 100 Color). Each pack of 10 exposures runs about $11 to $13 each, depending on which one you choose. I decided on three packs of the FP-100B to get started.

After installing a weird battery and figuring out how to install a film pack, now was the moment of truth. Would it work? I expanded the bellows into position, cocked the shutter and looked for my first victim, er subject. The dog was in range, so I guess he is it. Focus, frame the subject and press the shutter release. This would be the point where most people would check the LCD on their camera to see if they got the shot or not. Not this time. It was time to remove the picture and let it develop.

Victor - My First Polaroid

Grasping the paper tab on the right side of the camera, I tried to give it a tug. Crap! Is it stuck? Is it suppose to be this hard to pull? One way or another I was going to expose this pack of film, so I pulled a little harder. The next thing I have is a heavier card tab sticking out of the camera. I tug this out and the picture is pulled through the rollers that spread the developer onto the exposure. Now to wait while it develops. How long was that?  60 seconds?  40 seconds?  I decided to go with 45 seconds. After waiting what seemed to be forever, I peeled the picture from the development backing. There it was. A classic Polaroid black and white.  Was it a great photo? Not hardly. The dog moved and the picture was blurry. Was it instant? Well by 1960’s standards it was. By 2010 standards? Not if you are going to upload to the web or email the photo, however if you are looking at printing the photo, old school isn’t too bad.

If you look closely on the right side of the photo, you can see an area that the developer didn’t spread smoothly. Is it a defect, or just one of the charms of Polaroid type photography? I am leaning towards the later.

All in all, I am not ready to give up my Nikon digital, but I do enjoy the diversion and the need to think about light and exposure. Not bad for a $3 camera.

Kira - Second Polaroid

One reply on “New Old Camera”

Love the polaroid thing and I definitely believe that the non-uniformity of the developing process is one of its perks not a flaw. Love the moving dog shot, I love motion blurs and the diagnals of the sidewalk behind the dog add great symmetry.

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