As I was growing up, I remember my aunt being what we would call today, an early adopter. An early adopter is a person who is one of the first to go out and buy technology when they first appear on the market. Well she was one of the first persons that I knew that purchased a Polaroid Land Camera back in the early ’60s. It was pretty cool, she would take it on vacations and we would be able to see the photographs within seconds (60, to be exact).
Sure the camera was a bit big and clunky by today’s standards, but it was cutting edge technology back in the ’60s. My aunts camera was the Model 100 which if my research is correct, was introduced in 1963. My dad had purchased a Model 335 somewhere around 1969 and my aunt purchased another camera, the Model 440 around 1971 to replace her 8 year old camera. I happen to know all the model numbers because I was given all three cameras in my late teens or early adult years, and I still have them today. They aren’t worth much, maybe $10-$50 on eBay, so I’ll just hang on to them for a little while longer.
Here’s the steps needed to take a picture with one of these Polaroid cameras:
- You would flip open the plastic cover
- Depending on the model, you would flip up the viewfinder
- You push down a mechanical latch to release the lens bellows and pull it out till it locks in place.
- Then you would take the picture, right!? Nope, not yet, you still needed to use that same mechanical latch that you used to unlatch the bellows, to adjust the focus on your subject.
- Okay, now you’re ready to take the picture using the button on top of the camera. But wait there’s more!
- After you shoot the picture, you push another lever down to reset the shutter release for the next photo.
- Then you pull out the film from the right side of the camera.
- Ohh, not through yet! You had to wait 60 seconds or so.
- Then you peel the development backing off the print.
- Then you use this applicator to apply a goopy mixture on top of the print, I guess to protect it, I believe this was just for black & white prints though.
The procedure wasn’t actually that bad once you got the hang of it.
The Model 100 didn’t have an automatic timer built in, like the subsequent models, so you had to time the film processing on a watch, clock or counting to yourself, 1, 1000, 2, 1000, 3, 1000…
After you peeled the backing off the print, you would shake or fan the print in the air to speed up the drying process, because the print surface was sticky. These early Polaroid cameras were the start of habit that many people can’t ‘shake’ (excuse the pun) today.
Even with the advent of the modern day Polaroid cameras that don’t use the peel apart film, you still see some people ‘shaking’ them as if they are drying them. I guess old habits never die.
I dusted off my model 335 Polaroid Land camera that has been sitting on a shelf for many, many, many years and took these photos with it. I had to buy fresh film for it, but I was shocked that the battery was still working.
Here’s a web page I found from 2004 from CNN, that talks about shaking modern day Polaroid films, and the affect it has on them:
Giant Polaroid Camera–Can you picture waving one of these prints around? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/011120.htm