I recently returned from the Shutter Sisters Oasis retreat (where 5 of us Muses got to be together in person for the first time–what a treat!) and I am filled with renewed photographic inspiration. I had been looking forward to being with Lindsey and Debra and shooting Polaroids together, but I had a pleasant surprise in store for me. While we were enjoying the sunshine of Palm Springs and shooting our hearts out, I was reminded of how much fun it is to shoot with the really vintage Polaroid cameras — the pack cameras as they are called. These are the cameras that were first made in the early 1960s and use the pack film — a bulky looking cartridge — that gets loaded in the back of the camera. The camera has the awesome bellows that bloom out as you open it. The pack film is the type that you yank (and I do mean “yank”) out of the camera once you click the shutter as it doesn’t release or shoot out of the camera on its own. Then, you wait for 30 to 120 seconds, depending on the type of film you are using and the temperature, as the film develops. When the time is right, you peel apart the photograph from the negative. How cool is that?!?!?
These are two photos I shot last week. Two great things about shooting with these types of cameras are that (a) the cameras aren’t too pricey compared to some of the other Polaroid cameras (like the SX-70) and (b) the film is still being produced by Fuji and isn’t too costly either. You can likely find one of these cameras at a local flea market or vintage shop, or get one on ebay pretty easily. As for the film, you get 10 images for about $10 US per pack of film. Currently you can get one type of black and white film and one type of color film. How perfect that I was shooting with black and white film and then Jenny launched a month of Black and White for our November theme? Pretty perfect, I think.
So tell me, have you ever shot with a Polaroid pack camera? Are you inclined to seek one out and give it a try?
Meghan of Life Refocused
i bought a polaroid 101 land camera at a thrift shop for $15 in its original case, with the flash attachment and even some old photos from the previous owner. they still make the batteries and you can buy the film online, as you mentioned. it’s a clunky, awesome thing — and i still am practicing to see if i can get the results that i want (having trouble getting the focus right). it’s a learning experience and an adventure!
These shots turned out great Meghan! Love that you got to try the Land Camera at Oasis!
Really great light in these. I do shoot with one, a 101 right now, but I have a 103 and a 250 to try out too — can’t wait to go shooting with my daughters. Peel-apart was my introduction to polaroid. I find it much more “predictable” and easy to use than the sx-70.
A couple of things I have learned — the color film has deeper brighter colors if you leave it unpeeled longer (I leave it as long as 5 minutes), and if you live in a cold climate, a cold clip is a very good thing to have and use.
Love this, Meghan. The black and white peel-apart film is really something special. Must start shooting some soon.
I found a 420 at an Antique store a few years ago for a great price, and seemingly all intact with a flash accessory and case. The former owner, H. Gibson, was apparently gifted this beauty for Christmas on 12/25/72. I need to play with it more to get the focus right as well as composition, what I see is not always what comes out of the camera (poor headless people). Love so much that you ladies are digging right into the film.
Meghan. I love how you made me go straight to ebay after reading this article in search for yet another camera! Thank you for inspiring me to try something new. Again!
Such gorgeous bws these are!! This post is just the kick behind I need to start using my own pack camera – thank you!
Oh gosh yes, this could well be my next foray into Polaroids. Like I need another reason.
hey lady! so glad you were able to shoot with one of my cameras during my workshop! that’s one of my favorite parts of teaching– giving the folks the chance to shoot with different polaroid cameras. 🙂