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Polaroid Land Camera Guide

Polaroid Land cameras are named after Edwin Land who was the inventor of the instant film camera, which was manufactured by Polaroid. All Polaroid instant cameras were called “Land” cameras until 1982 when Edwin Land retired.

This guide applies to the “packfilm” versions of Polaroid Land cameras which includes series 100-400 and were manufactured from 1963 to the mid 70s. Previous Land Camera models used a different type of film called roll film and a guide for that type of camera can be found here.

Polaroid stopped producing packfilm in 2009, leaving Fujifilm as the only manufacturer until 2016. There is still a supply of film out there but it is quickly diminishing and the prices are rising. Fortunately there are some photo labs that are currently trying to recreate the process of manufacturing this type  of Polaroid packfilm.

My first Land Camera in this style was the model 100, which was the first model ever produced. I found it at an antique store for 20 dollars and was so excited because it was my dream camera.  I managed to get it to work and have taken plenty of photos with it. Over the years I have collected quite a few different models at various thrift and antique stores because it’s my favorite type of vintage camera. I just can never pass them up!

Land Cameras can also be bought refurbished online for a higher price, but they’re guaranteed to work unlike the ones found second hand. Thrift store cameras can be a bit of a risk because you never know if it will work or not. But for me that’s all part of the fun!

I love this camera because it is such a classic vintage camera and still takes great photos over 50 years later. I have always loved the way film photos look and Polaroid film is magical with its instant developing. It still amazes me that these old cameras can still just pop out a beautiful film print.

This guide applies to the 100 series through the 400 series, although there may be some features of the later models that are not covered here.

Remove the Case 

If you’re lucky enough to find a camera that still has its case, unlatch it from the top of the camera to fold it down. Press the metal clip underneath to remove it. In some models the view finder will need to be flipped up.  In other models it stays up all the time.

 

Extend the Bellows

To extend the camera bellows press upwards on this arrow. Pull the bellows out gently until a click is heard and they slide into place.

 

Retract the Bellows

It’s a good idea to make sure the rollers are clean each time a new pack of film is placed inside. Otherwise chemicals will build up on them and make it difficult to pull the photos out.

The rollers are released by pressing the red clip and pulling the rollers up.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe them clean. If there are chemicals that are caked on really well, then a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q tip usually does the trick.

 

Open the Back

 Press down on the lever found on the bottom of the camera to pop open the back.

The inside of the camera should be clean and free of any tears or rips. Any rips of tears will provide a way for light to enter the camera and overexpose the film.

 

Clean the Rollers

It’s a good idea to make sure the rollers are clean each time a new pack of film is placed inside. Otherwise chemicals will build up on them and make it difficult to pull the photos out.

The rollers are released by pressing the red clip and pulling the rollers up.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe them clean. If there are chemicals that are caked on really well, then a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a Q tip usually does the trick.

 

 Test the Shutter

Engage the shutter by pressing down the lever labeled number three on the front of the camera.

 Release the shutter by pressing the red button labeled number two.

If the battery is working, two distinct clicks will be heard and the shutter can be seen opening and closing if the back of the camera remains open.  If these two clicks are not heard then there is something wrong with the battery connection and shutter will not open so a photo will not be taken.

Most old Polaroid Land Cameras found in thrift shops and antique stores will contain an old corroded battery.  There are still replacement batteries like this that can be found, but the easiest thing to do is replace the old battery with three AAA batteries.

A cheap mini flashlight has the perfect apparatus for converting the old land camera’s battery system.

This is done by connecting the white and black tabs to the flashlight battery holder. A quick fix is taping it all together with electrical tape. A permanent fix is by sodering.  In some cameras the flashlight apparatus will not fit inside so you may have to break off some plastic pieces in the battery compartment to make it fit.  That is what I did in the picture above, you can spot the jagged edges!

FujiFilm, until recently made new film for Polaroid Land cameras in color and black and white. Although it is now discontinued, the limited supply can still be purchased. Original, expired Land Camera film can still be found occasionally on eBay.

The film pack is loaded by placing it into the back of the camera. Make sure all the paper parts are aligned and not folded over before closing the back.

 

Film Speed

The film speed settings are 75, 150, 300 and 3000. 75 is a good place to keep it on because the color film is speed 100 and 75 is the closet to 100.

 

Lighting

 

Use the blue tab along the bottom the select the light setting. I usually keep mine selected for bright sun/dull day, unless it’s really bright outside.

Exposure

Twisting the ring around the lens adjust the aperture. In darker settings the camera should be set to lighten, in bright settings the camera should be set to darken.

Focus

The focus is adjusted by pressing or pulling the two tabs labeled 1.  This adjusts the below length of the bellows and brings the image into focus.

Adjusting the bellows is done while simultaneously looking through the little circular viewfinder to the left of the big viewfinder. There is a line that cuts the image in half, and they will line up perfectly when focused.

Once the image is lined up and in focus, engage the shutter by pressing the lever labeled 3, then snap the photograph by press down on the shutter release button labeled 2.

If the two clicks are heard, the photograph was taken!

 

Pull on the numbered tab to advance the negative part of the film. This causes the negative to make contact with the positive part of the film and bring the next negative forward in front of the lens.

The image is still inside the camera at this point.

To remove the picture from the camera, grasp the black tab and pull it out with a a firm and steady motion. Make sure it is pulled out straight and not at an angle which could cause a jam, or affect the development process.

The rollers work to spread the development chemicals across the image as it is pulled through, and to begin the development process.

On the side of the film is a developing time guide based on the ambient temperature. Although the fujifilm apparently has no maximum development time so it is ok the leave it for longer than it says.  However if you are using old expired film it’s best not to leave it to develop for too long.

After the recommended waiting time, peel the film apart and admire your polaroid picture!!

 

The flash clips onto the top of the camera and the wire plugs into the front. The flash will fire automatically when it is plugged in. To switch to taking photos without flash, just unplug it.

Flash bulbs can be found on eBay or at antique stores if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon them.

The bulb screws into the flash apparatus, and once it fires, it can be ejected by pressing the red button on top of the flash.

The bulbs are hot and partially melted once fired. Be careful!!

See a collection of some of my polaroids HERE.

Tell me about your Land Camera adventures!

 

 

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Abandoned Interstate

Not often do you get a chance to walk on an abandoned interstate.

The highway that runs through downtown, that has tiny lanes and even tinier on and off ramps, that is always backed up with traffic, is being completely rebuilt with hopes of being greatly improved. And once it got demolished, I couldn’t help but go for a walk on what used to be one crazy road.

In the center divider, years and years of debris from so many accidents were scattered all around.

I’ve driven this road so many times.  It was strange to walk where it used to be, and imagine what it will become.

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Rocket Garden

NASA, and anything space related, especially vintage, is something we both really like. So a weekend trip to Florida to visit the space center at Cape Canaveral seemed like a good idea for our fifth anniversary. Neither of us had ever been before. It was the end of September, an escape to someplace tropical and warm before the cold winter months began. 

My grandma told me she lived nearby for a few years before moving back to Michigan and would often see the rocket launches from her house.  My grandpa was a NASA engineer.  I wish he was still around so I could hear all his stories that I never got to hear.

Rockets from various eras of the space program sit in the Rocket Garden, towering over the space center museums. It’s crazy to see these giant things, and realize the amount of fuel needed to leave our planet.

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Weekly Journal- Goodbye Bathroom

Chester says goodbye to one of his favorite places to hang out, as this sink, and the rest of the bathroom, are about to be demolished completely. The process is supposed to take two weeks to complete.  And hopefully Chester likes the new sink just fine.

I moved to a new, and slightly larger desk at work, and gained a few more windows. I also finally obtained a second monitor, making my transition to a senior position complete. There had been quite a few depressed days at work recently, but luckily by the end of last week I was feeling a lot better. Hopefully it continues!

The fish tank is slowly filling up. I added some of my favorite fish, cory catfish, but they were apparently sick from the pet store because a lot of them didn’t make it.. Coming home from work three days in a row to find another cute fish dead didn’t do anything to help my sadness. But all the remaining fish seem healthy, now just to find them some friends to replace the ones now resting in my flower garden.

Well, the bathroom is getting destroyed this week. We have another bathroom, but that’s currently the one the cats use, and we have never used it before so that will be interesting.  It also doesn’t have a shower.  Luckily my mom lives just up the road!

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The Motel From a Dream

Staying in normal chain hotels is pretty boring.

Although it can be a bit of a risk to stay in some random motel, it always makes for a more interesting story and a more fun experience.

It was summer 2018, and I was looking for a place to stay on a last minute weekend trip to Cocoa Beach Florida to visit the space center. As soon as I saw a picture of this pastel castle, the opportunity to stay here could not be passed up. It went along perfectly with what my brain had dreamed up retro Cocoa Beach would be. The reviews were mediocre, but we’re not picky. The price was pretty cheap, but not the cheapest on the list.  Right where I like it. From the photos online, it looked like my dream motel.

This Motel is called Fawlty Towers, and I couldn’t find any more information on it before booking. But later on during our stay, I read that it had once temporarily became a nude motel in hopes of increasing business.  I couldn’t find any info on if clothing was still optional, but everyone I saw there kept their clothes on. whew!

The motel formed a square, where every room had a back door that faced the courtyard with a pool.  Palm trees covered the property and it was like a quiet little oasis.

At night, the courtyard pool felt a little like an alternate reality. I loved it.

The room was nice enough, with all the things you’d expect a motel to have.  It was clean and the bed was comfortable.

This crazy motel makes the list of top favorite places I’ve ever stayed.  I would definitely stay here again on another trip to Cocoa Beach.

 

 

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The First Time I Saw the Desert

I’d never seen the desert before, but I’ve always wanted to.  It seemed like such an intriguing  landscape, so different from the dense green rolling hills I was used to. Where palm trees weren’t a strange sight, and cactuses grew naturally.

One day I discovered some cheap flights to Las Vegas, and suddenly a week long desert adventure was being dreamed up. Five hours to the other side of the country was the longest I had ever spent in a plane. I loved every minute of it; seeing the landscape change before my eyes.

 In the rental car we explored the desert world for the first time. The land was so flat, with no tall trees, you could almost see straight across to the other side of the city.  Mountains stood tall in the distance, surrounding Las Vegas like a wall.

I stared along the palm tree lined streets, having never seen more than a few palm trees before.

I continued to stare out the car window as we passed all the famous casinos.  Strange to see them all in person. Only ever seeing them in movies, it almost felt like they didn’t actually exist.

Nestled around the shiny sparkling casinos, run down motels and other attractions lay as ruins, providing quite a big contrast.

Even the houses matched the desert color theme.

The seven days in the desert were off to a good start.

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Flowers in Stock

My Etsy shop is open again, and this time with lots of new things.

The shop first began when I started putting interesting postage stamps and tiny pictures into resin, and then turning them into magnets and necklaces.  Recently, after a bit of a long break, I started putting colorful little flowers along with moss and some glitter into resin for a new type of design.

It’s been so much fun creating all these different colorful designs and I am excited about making even more. Making something new and different is just the inspiration I needed to start my shop back up again.

Find these necklaces and more in my Etsy Shop, for $15.00.

Also follow along on my shop’s Instagram.

Hopefully even more items will be added soon!

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Weekly Journal- Flowers and Stroganoff

The aquarium still isn’t ready for fish yet, but it should be any day now. I added a few new plants, as well as an airstone that produces very tiny bubbles.  This is now one of my favorite corners of the tank.

Some flowers have begun to appear this week. A reassurance that spring is one the way.

I had an odd craving for a mushroom-y onion-y sauce last week.  Odd because I don’t really like mushrooms. Turns out I was craving stroganoff so I made a veggie version which turned out great.

 

Hopefully this week brings fish and more good food.

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The End Of Winter

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This was a day at the very end of winter a couple of years ago. These pictures have been sitting in my drafts for a while now, and it seemed time to post them.  This is from another time.  A bit of a sadder time, but that’s ok.

The day was warm, after many months spent in the cold. It wasn’t quite time for spring, but it was one of those days that let you know that spring was just around the corner. Winter was almost done.

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It was a Sunday afternoon that felt strange, like the precious weekend had been partly wasted. So we went for a walk, and it made up for those restless feelings.

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The sun was setting later and later each day, another promise that spring was on the way.

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