I’ve already touched a little on the awesomeness of Polaroid cameras when I talked about my SX70. To have an instant print with in minutes of taking the photo was, and still is one of the coolest things to ever happen to photography.
Today I’ll be talking about the second Polaroid camera I’m lucky enough to have in my collection. This post is all about the 104 model of the Land Cameras. There are a ton of different models, with different features and camerapedia has an great article here if you want to get more into it.
This is my second 104, the first I’d found at an antique shop out in LA, worked well. At the time I thought, but it probably needed a good CLA, the rollers seemed to stick when I’d try and pull the photo out after exposing. This one. This one was a $20 dollar score I’d found on eBay. The pictures were perfect, even had the box, a flash, original manuals and the cold clip. Aside from the flash the first camera had none of the other cool originals.
Before I’d gotten the first of these cameras I’d never even seen or heard of them before. It was total chance that I’d gotten one. They use what is called pack film, the final prints come out about 2.75″ x 3.75 inches, which to me would make really cool post cards you could mail to people while on a trip. If you get one you’ve got to your self or buy one but adapt the battery compartment to use common house batteries.
The bellows give the camera really cool look, very old-timey sort of feel.
The bellows are a trademark of the land cameras, even the stylin 70’s SX-70s have the billows when you expand the camera to take a photograph. I could be wrong. What do you think?
Taking a photo is 4 four step system. 1) focus the camera, push that slider side to side. 2)… okay I’m sitting here looking at this and according to the numbers, if followed by what Polaroid says, you’d 1) Focus; 2) Snap the shutter; 3) cock the shutter then; 4) pull the film out.
It should go. 3) Set the shutter; 1) Focus the camera (this lever is also how you pull the bellows are expanded) ; 2) snap the shutter; 4) Pull the film. That’s how I take the photo. As far as adjusting the exposure theres a dial on the front that lets you adjust the brightness and darkness. I personally underexpose the photos a 1 to 2 markers darker cause the white seem a bit blown out for my liking on the prints.
There’s no ISO adjusting but what I find interesting is the switch on top that you tell the camera what kind of film you’re shooting. I have the idea to do a bit of experimenting with the color film and telling the camera it’s b&w just to see what happens.
The viewfinder is nice and clear on this second camera, it’s hard to see in this photo, but there’s a distance scale to help with focusing. If you look in the left, across from Smedly pup, you’ll see some faint numbers. If you are taking someone’s portrait you’ll do the pinch game and get a line above and below their head. Even if you’re taking it in portrait you’ll want to focus it in landscape.
The cold clip is something new that I didn’t have in the original camera and I just love this. It is suppose to help in the development of your print during cold weather, using your body heat to warm the metal, helping with color and exposure. I love it for another reason of keeping my prints from bending in my back pocket (man I need a camera bag/murse thing). I’ve noticed that the prints that I did put in the clip had a better shine to them than the skin that seemed to be left on the prints by the old camera.
These cameras area really fun and I’ve loved having one in my collection. You can still buy film on Amazon for about 20 a pack, and with 10 shots that’s a about 2 dollars a shot. If you can get one on ebay, or off craigslist, an estate sale or the local antique store i’d say go for it. As long as their making film lets make some instant prints.
Here are prints made with both cameras. The motel sign and burned down resturant were taken with the newest camera and stored in the cold clip after pulling.
These images were made on the first land camera and were taken about 3 years ago.
Camera: Polaroid Land Camera 104 // Film: FujiFilm FP-100C