E100 Special

This is one of my favorite pack film cameras. Very similar to the Polaroid reporter as it closes, tidily, into its own case.

When the camera is deployed and its blue dot flash cube sitting off to the side, it always conjures images of a reporter right out of the superman comics complete with a fedora, press pass, and brown suit.

The peel apart film for this is actually a superior quality to the classic white rimmed Polaroid images that anyone who grew up in the 1980’s would instantly recognize. Developing in under two minutes, the picture quality rivals that of a professional photography studio.  You, of course, still must set your lighting and focus, but the images are crisp, sharp and stunning.

Electric Eye 900

Designed by the same person who designed Steinway pianos and the Centennial Dome in Richmond Virginia,  Walter Dorwin Teague, this beauty was commissioned by Dr. Land in the late 50’s and produced from 1960 to 63. Ahead of its time, it was one of the first instant cameras to feature fully automatic exposure for both controlling the shutter and aperture.

Using type 40 instant roll film, this one, though fully functional, is now merely a display piece in my collection, as the film, like the pack film, is no longer available.  The film itself must be spooled, manually, while in the dark, with a separate roll for the negative. 

Model J66

Also manufactured in the early 60s, this is another functional, but sadly obsolete type 40 pack film camera. It included a built in, hinged, flash gun, that allowed the operator to rotate the flash for direct or indirect lighting.  Giving photographers a rudimentary way to defuse light for different settings.

It did have an automatic exposure but was originally designed for 3000 speed black and white film.  Color adapter kits were available later.

800 Land Camera

My favorite type 40 roll film cameras, not just because of part this model played in my eldest brother’s first days.  I believe its frame, structure, and function to be a work of art. 

Uniquely, with this model as focused through a separate range finder window, and one would compose the shot through a view finder window.

Early on it was discovered that this type of roll film would continue to develop over time, eventually over exposing itself, leaving nothing of the image.  Cameras such as the 800 came with a kit with a roll-on fixative, meant to be applied after the film had developed to the desired level. This preserved the film, preventing over exposure, but left the images wet for several minutes. Extra care needed to be exercised.

Type PR-23A Polaroid light exposure meter

Manufactured by General Electric for Polaroid, this, or something like it, was what would be used to take the guess work out of correctly setting the aperture and shutter speed, for the cameras manufactured during the late 40’s and early 50’s

Polaroid Minute Maker

The minute maker, a sturdier and less expensive version of the earlier pack film cameras, was only manufactured for one year, 1977. 

Not as fancy, but much more durable, this model was great for simple point and shoot applications. It has a simplified viewing system that lead to later models with more advance view finder features, such as a color overlay to help center the subject’s face.

One Step Land Camera

This is perhaps Polaroid’s most recognizable cameras. Icons we use on our computers and smartphones today are clearly based off the One Steps’ Iconic look. This was also the first camera to feature Polaroid’s trademark rainbow. 

Although not as fancy as the SX-70, this hard-bodied younger brother utilized the same 1st generation SX-70 white bordered film that we all remember.  The original SX-70 was a favorite of artists such as Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams, but for many amateur photographers such a model was out of their price range.

Polaroid transistor radio

Although not a camera, this early 80’s piece has found a special place in my collection.  This functional radio was only available, new, as a promotional item by sending in box tops from Polaroid film.

As an alternative to running off 4 AA batteries, the amateur photographer could find a second use for their spent film carriages by inserting them into the back of the radio. The thin foil battery built in to each cartridge was enough to power the radio for hours at a time. 

Model 20 Swinger Land Camera

The Swinger Land Camera was one of the most inexpensive cameras sold by Polaroid, at the time, and one of the top selling cameras of all time.  These cameras use type 20 roll film. (The first Polaroid film to develop outside of the camera)

Made between 1965 and 1970, and was marketed deliberately towards youth, because of its low price, and the catchy “Meet the swinger” Jingle written by Barry Manilow. 

This model featured an exposure meter that was connected to the aperture. As you adjusted it, the word “yes” or “no” would appear through the window.

Sun 600 Land Cameras

The Polaroid Sun 600 is most likely the camera that most people visualize when Polaroid is mentioned.  It was a simple point and shoot with an automatic flash, these versions were popular during the 1980's.  It was from these models that a huge number of specialty variations were created.

The differences between the two Sun 600’s pictured was the stamp on the outer housing.  One says “Polaroid” and the other bears “600 Land Camera”. From 1947 to 1982 Polaroid cameras were labeled as “Land Camera” referencing Edwin Land, when he stepped down this mark was removed.





The SX-70, the sliver and brown one was my Mother's that I had mentioned earlier, a gift from my Father to make up for their earlier hardship. The SX-70 name was shorthand for "special experiment number 70”, the code name used by Dr land and his associates back in the mid-40s when he first was struck with the idea of developing an instant camera.

He had been vacationing with his family in New Mexico and was asked by his three-year-old daughter why she couldn't instantly see the picture that they had just taken. He set his mind upon solving that problem and some 30 years later the SX-70 was the culmination of that effort. He considered it his crowning achievement. 

It was the first instant camera that required no intervention from the photographer after he or she clicked the shutter button.  It was also the first instant SLR (Single lens reflex) camera in history, which meant that what the photographer saw through the viewfinder was exactly what the image was going to look like. In Edwin Lands opinion the camera eye and the photographers eye needed to be one in the same without the illusion of looking at it through a machine. SLR accomplished that.

At first glance the SX-70 (model 1) seems to be made of brushed stainless steel, an illusion carefully crafted by Polaroid's engineers. Steel would have been durable yes but not cost effective and would have added unwanted unnecessary weight to the camera. Finally it was decide that they would utilize glass filled polsulfone, an incredibly strong space-age polymer and plate it with a copper-nickel-chromium alloy.  As a Finishing Touch Dr Land demanded that the camera be trimmed with genuine leather.  Land admitted although it may not be cost-effective "THIS camera deserves leather."

The camera allows manual focus as close as 26.4cm (10.4") and has a shutter speed range from 1/175 of a second more than 10 seconds depending on the needs of the photographer. The camera would become a favorite of such famous artists as Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton, Walker Evans and Andy Warhol.  Early SX-70 instant film was able to be manipulated before the images had solidified resulting in images that almost resembled impressionist paintings. Take a look at Peter Gabriel's eponymous 3rd album or Loverboy's debut album and you'll see an example of the results.

The sx70 went through several slight design changes from its debut in 1972, the material was switched from the polsulfone to ABS plastics in cream color and black, even adding black leather on the model 2's and 3's .

The model 2, a $1 pawn shop find that I refurbished, shown here next to my Mother's  original, came with added features such as threaded camera tripod holes which eliminated the need for the bracket you see in the picture, as well as built in brackets to attach a camera strap.  - A welcomed accessory considering that the purchase price for the SX-70 hovered around the $200 mark. Equivalent to well over $1,000 in today's money, you didn't want to accidentally drop it.

Probably the most amazing advancement to the SX- 70 line came in 1978, when Polaroid introduced the sonar one-step. It was the world's first autofocusing SLR camera.  A gold disk mounted on the top above the lens would emit a sonar signal that would bounce off the photographer's subject back to the camera and automatically focus the camera for you. Edwin Land finally gave his daughter what she asked for all those years ago. A completely and totally instant film camera system.  Thank you for taking a little journey with me into my Polaroid obsession.