Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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24 Dec 2020 9:11AM   Views : 366 Unique : 245


I think the first camera that I noticed – a very long time ago, when my Dad subscribed to National Geographic – was a Polaroid. It was somehow suspended between old and new, and was thoroughly exotic. The first 100-400 series cameras appeared in 1963, and the last date from 1973.

Time passed, and I grew up: in my first term at Durham University, I bought a cheap Polaroid camera, so that I could send snaps to my then-girlfriend, who’d headed off to Southampton University. In that sense, it was money wasted: she was no longer my girlfriend when I returned to Grey College for the Epiphany Term in early 1973, but the camera stayed.


It was much simpler than the one I’d seen advertised: solid plastic, instead of a complex folding beastie, and the highest tech was in the rollers that squeezed the chemical pod to develop each frame: stainless steel rollers to resist the caustic and fast-working mix that produced an image in a couple of minutes.

And eventually, many years later, I acquired one of those glamorous Polaroids, though by that time, the film was out of production, though I think the same film packs were used in special backs for medium-format film cameras, for test exposures in professional studios. My model 340 was made between 1969 and 1971, and was plastic-bodied, while many other models had metal bodies.


It’s a fascinating combination of technologies: you could view it as quintessentially American, with the combination of archaic and thoroughly modern. A style of thinking that means the National Geographic covers today are obviously the same magazine as in the Sixties, and that leads Acufine Inc to ship its developers in packaging that has changed only slightly in 45 years.

So what are the drivers and results in the Polaroid of my youthful dreams?

As the prints are the same size as the negatives (though with most Polaroid film types, the ‘negative’ is disposable, leaving a single original print), it’s medium format – so it’s BIG. To make it more compact for travel, it folds, so there are bellows – but plastic rather than leather. The folding mechanism is cunningly linked to the focussing, so that rather than the lens having a helical movement, the whole of the bellows extend and retract. This is linked to the rangefinder, visible through a window to the left of the viewfinder, all in a block that folds down for travel.


There’s an electronic shutter: essentially, the aperture adjusts to allow for the wildly different film speeds (75 ISO for colour: 3000 ISO for black and white), and the shutter speeds from 10 seconds to 1/1200 deal with different lighting conditions.

It’s not iconic in the way that a Nikon F or a Hasselblad is, but it’s physically large and interesting to look at, so they are popular as props for pictures: I know I’m not the only person using one for this! The whole ‘don’t have to take the film to Boots’ thing was a powerful driver for many Polaroid owners, and that creates a certain extra magic.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
24 Dec 2020 9:12AM
So many neat little details - the inner bright ring round the lens springs forward as a lens hood when not pressed back flush with the outer ring. Early pictographics for focus, if you cna't be bothered with the rnagefinder...
PaulCox Avatar
24 Dec 2020 1:19PM
Only had “A Swinger and A Button”, never a posh one like that one, but some how they were fun to have and use. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to next years blogs. Paul.
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
24 Dec 2020 1:52PM
Merry Christmas John and Hopes for a Better New Year!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
24 Dec 2020 8:52PM
It would be fun to put a film through this beastie - but outdated packs are fetching £45 on eBay at present. Too rich for my blood...

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