Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Promised Land
February 6, 2008 9:59 PM   Subscribe

The Land List: everything you need to know for and about vintage Polaroid cameras.
posted by fandango_matt (35 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, I had no idea Polaroid made that many cameras! This website is a fantastic resource.

When I was a kid I was really into Houdini. I remember reading how Houdini used to expose fraudulent mediums and how "spirit photography" was a big deal back then. When I was about 12 I discovered that the Polaroid Swinger could easily produce double exposures. My feeble attempts at "spirit photography" fell far short, probably due to lack of tripod, but it is an interesting bug (feature?) of the Polaroid Swinger.

Also, if you put a developing instant photograph in the microwave oven for just a second or two, trippy colored streaks will develop.

Perhaps one day we will see a photo blog of slide rules and 8 tracks photographed with instant cameras.
posted by Tube at 10:51 PM on February 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


My grandparents had one of these - I still remember the smell of the little pink fixer pads that you swiped over the prints to stop the development process.
posted by pjern at 10:59 PM on February 6, 2008


very cool
posted by caddis at 11:07 PM on February 6, 2008


Something else to know is that the pictures do not hold up well over time.
posted by Cranberry at 11:58 PM on February 6, 2008


I was recently given a Polaroid Land camera in a white elephant gift swap. Nice to know that there's film still made that'll work in it! In college I got to experience making Polaroid transfers and I'd like to try that again.
posted by Artnchicken at 12:11 AM on February 7, 2008


Brilliant resource - cheers fandango_matt.

I have about fifteen Polaroid cameras, all from charity shops and jumble sales, but they're in storage - thanks to the high price of the film, it's just too expensive a hobby to sustain for long, especially if you're experimenting/mucking about, or testing out an older camera. (Though after a quick look over this site, I'm seriously tempted by the idea of breaking open the boxes of cameras and blowing a few quid on fresh film!)

Cranberry: "Something else to know is that the pictures do not hold up well over time."

Depends on what you do with them - stored sensibly (somewhere cool, dark and dry) they'll last for yonks.
posted by jack_mo at 4:08 AM on February 7, 2008


How long is yonks?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:22 AM on February 7, 2008


Not as long as Yonkers.
posted by chillmost at 4:44 AM on February 7, 2008


Something else to know is that the pictures do not hold up well over time.

Personally, I think that that nice desaturation that you get with old colour polaroid photographs is a large part of their charm. But as jackmo says, if you keep 'em somewhere cool and dark, they'll last ok. I've got stuff I shot in the 1970's that's relatively unchanged. But it is relative.

I wonder how people who paid phenomenal prices for SX70 photographs by people like Hockney, Warhol and Mapplethorpe will feel when their photographs curl up and die on 'em? I wish I had an SX70 right now. I loved that camera.

Also: Best of the web. No doubt.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 AM on February 7, 2008


You can still get pack film and many of those old cameras are perfectly usable. The only gotcha on some of them is the oddball batteries they use. You can get them, but they're not cheap and not stocked at Radio Shack.

Polaroid's film output is uneven but Fuji makes a pack film similar to 690.
posted by tommasz at 5:17 AM on February 7, 2008


Those things can harbor malevolent entities and burn down your junk shop if you're not careful.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:18 AM on February 7, 2008


I agree with Senator McDermott. Best of the Web.

I get emails through my website from time to time saying "I just got suchandsuch Polaroid camera. Can I still get film?" and invariably I send those folks on to the Landlist. I can't belive that it hasn't been FPP'd before. Thanks, Fandango, for rectifying that!

Fuji FP100C is the film you speak of, Tommasz, and I think it's superior to the Polaroid.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:30 AM on February 7, 2008


And, regarding the prints not holding up well over time, well, that's really an issue with photography in general. Historically, color prints are good for maybe 20 years. Black and white on archival paper does some better. Apparently there's paper that now bumps color up to 75 years (how they tested that is unclear to me), but even if you say they last 100 years, that's nothing. How long will a fresco last?

But, chances are, that 100 years is more than you or I will get.

Photography is rooted in time. Polaroids so much more so because each one is a single, discreet, particular moment. A Polaroid print was actually there, then. Whatever is on the print is there because light bounced off of an object and was captured by the actual piece of paper you are holding. So it can only hold on to that miracle for 20 years? Big deal.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:32 AM on February 7, 2008


Just last week I bought one of these from eBay and am awaiting its imminent delivery. It included a pack of film, a flash and bulbs and it takes the 669 type that Fujifilm still make.
I'm looking forward to getting outside with it and showing the world what a terrible camera geek I am. :)
posted by cmetom at 6:33 AM on February 7, 2008


My dad worked at Polaroid for 30 years. I never knew anything but instant cameras when I was a kid. My first camera was a One-step and I was the envy of all the kids in the fifth grade. We thought Polaroid was the greatest thing ever. Now, when I look through our box of blurry, cracked, faded and bent family photos I realize what crap Polaroid was.

I remember being a kid and my dad telling us about a “top secret” project, “instant movies.” Wow. Nobody had ever done that before. We waited and waited and finally they released Polavision. I think it still stands as one of the worst pieces of technology ever. Even as a kid I could see what a pile of junk it was. Sales weren’t helped any by the fact that VCRs and early home video cameras came out about a week later.

Still, the annual employee family day was a blast, seeing how the film was made and all the other cool things they were working on.
posted by bondcliff at 6:36 AM on February 7, 2008


I just recently picked up an old SX-70 off eBay and am loving it. It seems to have gained "cult" status over the years and the cameras are very much alive and usable although you have to modify them to work with the available 600 Polaroid film as the original film is no longer in production as of just a few years ago.

I believe if one is worried about prints not holding up, you can use the "professional" grade 779 film which is identical to 600 except that it's a little faster and has better color range.

Ray and Charles Eames were also big fans.
posted by cazoo at 7:46 AM on February 7, 2008


Their site is slow. You have to wait 60 seconds for the gifs to appear.

And yes, I tried holding my laptop under my armpit.
posted by hal9k at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2008


Wow, great site. This is making me want to dig out my old 350 that an ex gave me about a decade ago – now to hunt down the right film ...
posted by Len at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2008


Historically, color prints are good for maybe 20 years

is this polaroid youre talking about ? colour prints last for ages in general.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:08 AM on February 7, 2008


Before the early 1990's, all color photographs began to fade and discolor sometime before twenty years.

If you preserve your color photographs in optimal conditions, the best that you can hope for before they start to fade is 50 years

If you want a specific amount of years, how about 3-5 before there are significant changes with a typical 'C' print hung on a wall.

Also a .pdf claiming 22 years for Kodak papers, and 60 for Fuji. Interestingly, this paper is really about the permanence of inkjet prints, and the story there is significantly bleaker.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:40 AM on February 7, 2008


Too fast. I meant to add that 20 years is just a number that I have in my head, but I can't remember where it came from. So I Googled around and didn't find much. What I found confirms that 20 years is on the low end, but reasonable, considering actual use and non-archival conditions.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:43 AM on February 7, 2008


But polaroids (as in integral film) wont last as long as a regular print. Integral film holds the original caustic chemicals it needed to develop the image in the first place. Not exactly an optimal situation for archival keeping qualities by any standard.

Doesn't stop me from using their film though, I love the colour rendition of the integral film and peel apart is da bomb for transfers.
posted by squeak at 10:13 AM on February 7, 2008


posted by Artnchicken In college I got to experience making Polaroid transfers and I'd like to try that again.

Image transfers are one of the reasons I picked up a Polaroid camera--here (self-link) are some of mine. Feel free to drop me a line if you'd like more information.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:34 AM on February 7, 2008


posted by tommasz You can still get pack film and many of those old cameras are perfectly usable. The only gotcha on some of them is the oddball batteries they use. You can get them, but they're not cheap and not stocked at Radio Shack.

I had the same complaint, so I soldered in a new battery box and a new set of leads so my Polaroids could use standard, over-the counter batteries.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:54 AM on February 7, 2008


I still have several- 110 and 110A, with those beautiful pro lens and shutter combinations... the 110A I converted to take pack film years ago when the roll stuff became so hard to get. Also have adapters for 4X5 Graflex, so much in use in labs and oscilloscope cameras and such. Haven't looked for film for any of em in a few years, though.....
posted by drhydro at 12:17 PM on February 7, 2008


Woo! I took my Automatic 100, the daddy of all of the packfilm cameras, to the last two MeFi meetups. I love the camera a lot. I'm going to shoot as much as I can while they still make the film for it. And I agree that Fuji's film is better.
posted by zsazsa at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2008


Oh, and I wore this shirt to the last meetup. Which makes me a total nerd.
posted by zsazsa at 12:56 PM on February 7, 2008


no zsazsa, polaroid shirts, makes you awesome!
posted by cazoo at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2008


Whelp ...

It looks like Polaroid film will be a thing of the past, Polaroid has announced it's shutting down it's plants in the USA, Netherlands and Mexico. [link]

*sigh*
posted by squeak at 12:11 AM on February 8, 2008


.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:17 AM on February 8, 2008


.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:04 AM on February 8, 2008


wow, what timing! should i horde up as much film as i can or just cut my losses now?
posted by cazoo at 10:22 AM on February 8, 2008


I'd say stock up while it's cheap. I will be, even though I'm mainly a Fuji instant film fan. Once production ends, the value is only going to go up on non-expired film.
posted by zsazsa at 11:59 AM on February 8, 2008


(unless this actually happens: Polaroid chief operating officer Tom Beaudoin said the company is interested in licensing its technology to an outside firm that could manufacture film for faithful Polaroid customers.)
posted by zsazsa at 12:56 PM on February 8, 2008


I live a quarter-mile from the Waltham, MA plant. Pass it every day. Big ol' banner on the side with happy Polaroid people. I wonder what'll happen to it.
posted by jscott at 10:09 AM on February 12, 2008


« Older Founded in 1947 and surviving today both as a reli...  |  The website of artist Suzanne ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments