I love Polaroid cameras and instant film. For years, I’ve “rescued” cameras from thrift stores, online auctions, and anywhere else I’ve seen them. Polaroid pack film cameras last forever, with some exceptions, and many of the models are of extremely high quality, with glass lenses, high quality viewfinders and rangefinders, and durable construction. Film is still available and will be for the foreseeable future, as Fujifilm continues to manufacture it, and aftermarket batteries are available.

Ryan Harrison

We’re having a stoop sale this Sunday, June 6, 2010, on Sunday, June 20, and I’m getting rid of most of this stuff. It’s not right for me to hoard all the good cameras–and the film. That’s right, I bought a sh*tload of Polaroid film when the company announced it was ceasing production, and someone should use it. I have some cool, unique stuff, too, like 100 speed color grid film (the developed film has a grid overlaying the image).

If you’re thinking to yourself “oh no, I missed the stoop sale! I couldn’t afford the ticket to New York!” or something of the sort, don’t fret. You’re still in the game. I’ll tell you how to get your kit together.

For simplicity’s sake and their quality, I would recommend one of the following models: Automatic 100 (not the older 100 which was for roll film), 250, 350, 360, 450. Each has a glass lens of higher quality than the cheaper, plastic models, a fold-down Zeiss rangefinder, tripod mount, etc. There are other models, including higher-end, more professional models, as well as cheaper models missing tripod mounts, having more plastic, etc. There are also neat oddballs like the Big Shot that I might write about another time.

Then you’ll need a battery. The later models actually have space for two batteries, but one is for an electronic timer (used to time the development of the film, which you can do in your head or with a watch), which you don’t really need.

Automatic 100 and 250 use a 4.5V 531 alkaline battery. Do a search and compare prices.

350, 360, and 450 use a single (or two if you’re a completist) 3.0V 532 alkaline battery.

Fujifilm makes FP-100C (100 speed color) and FP-3000B (3000 speed black and white) films, which are similar to Polaroid’s discontinued 669 and 667 films, respectively. You can buy them at pro camera stores or online.

These cameras set shutter speed automatically and use a fixed aperture. All you do is focus using the integrated rangefinder system. Cock the shutter, press the shutter release, pull out the tab, then pull the film out, through the rollers. The rollers squeeze the magic goo that develops the film all over the photo. After 60-90 seconds, depending on the film, you can peel the photo away from the chemical backing.

The King of Bedtime, taken with a Hasselblad 500C/M and a Polaroid back, expired 667 film

The pack films can also be used with Polaroid backs, such as the one I have for my Hasselblad. They’re available for most medium format cameras–there’s a Holga with integrated Polaroid back, too.

You can learn more about Polaroid pack film cameras (and more) at this amazing, valuable resource for Polaroid enthusiasts: http://www.rwhirled.com/landlist/landhome.htm

And here’s a video promoting my stoop sale: