Evaluating and Using your old Polaroid camera

If you don't own a Polaroid camera yet and would like to get one, read my opinion on choosing and purchasing a Polaroid camera.

Check out the How to guide and the Demonstration videos.

Evaluating your camera

So you discovered a vintage Polaroid in your grandpa's attic. Or you purchased one at a garage sale or Ebay for a give-away price. What now?

Using your Polaroid pack camera

This a guide for using a 100 series pack film camera with pack film is for information purposes only since no pack film for these cameras is available.

Check out the How to guide for reference manuals.

Assuming you own a pack film camera, with a working battery, fresh film, a flash unit, and flash bulbs/cubes/bar if necessary, you're ready to try out your camera! Go through the following checklist:

  1. Install the battery in the battery compartment. If the old battery has corroded the contacts, you may need to clean them.
  2. Open the back of the camera and insert the film. Close the back and pull the big black tab all the way out.
  3. Set the camera to use the type of film you are using. On lower end cameras, there are only two settings accessible by a switch on top: colour and black and white. On higher end cameras, there are 4 settings accessible by a dial on the bottom: 75, 150, 300, and 3000. Use 75 for colour film, or 3000 for black and white film.
  4. If your camera has a bellows, extend the bellows and cock the shutter by pressing it down until it clicks and stays down.
  5. On higher end cameras, choose your aperture setting. When using colour film, you have a choice between outdoors only (larger depth of field) or indoors with flash/outdoors (smaller depth of field). With black and white film, you have a choice between indoors without flash (small depth of field), or indoors with flash/outdoors (large depth of field).
  6. If you are taking a picture with a flash, mount the flash unit on the camera, plug the flash cable into the receptical on the lens body, and insert an unused(!) flash bulb or cube into the flash unit.
  7. Look through the rangefinder or image sizer and focus by either lining up the two images or pointing the to number of feet you are away from the subject. Focusing is accomplished by moving the scissor type levers back and forth or in the case of plastic bodied cameras, turning the lens to the correct focus range.
  8. Hold the camera steady and slowly press the shutter release to take the picture.
  9. Pull the white tab out, then the larger yellow tab and time the development of the picture, then peel it apart. Check out How to use the film for more details and pictures.