By Chris Gampat
on 6.25.12
Photo by Chris Gampat

Looking at old Polaroids evokes a certain feeling. Childhood galavanting and family road trips come to mind. In the modern era of megapixels and digital cameras though, Polaroids still take awe-inspiring photos (look what’s inspired Instagram filters). Browse through Craigslist, eBay, your local thrift shop, or KEH.com and you’ll find lots of older Polaroid Land Cameras: some of the best are still out there; like the Polaroid Land Camera 210

Continues after the jump.

Though not as popular as the SX-70 series of cameras, the Polaroid Land Cameras have one particular advantage: they shoot a larger negative while remaining almost as compact. That means that if you’re going through a night of party hopping or just feel like being creative, you’ll be able to have essentially a medium format photo in a compact package without the fret of someone spilling their solo cup on your $20,000 Hasselblad. To boot, they’re also designed to have their own case built in.

Flip the front hood of the camera off and you’ll be exposed to a bellows system that collapses in and out. Each Land Camera is conveniently marked with a labels 1-2-3-4 explaining how to operate the camera.

You’ll need to ensure that film is loaded and your shutter is cocked. Luckily, Fujifilm still makes film for these cameras in ISO 3000 Black and White and 100 Color.

Land Cameras focus using the same rangefinder system that you find in Leicas or Mamiya 7IIs. The 210 is a bit different though. It has a whole distance scale system and lines in the viewfinder. Want to take a photo of your girlfriend? Ensure that her head is in between the top and bottom line as you focus in and out. This isn’t a zoom lens, so you’ll need to move back and forth to compose.

Now just focus, shoot, and pull the shot out carefully so that the rollers can evenly distribute the chemicals and your image can be properly processed. Don’t pull the image off of the developer just yet: wait a bit. Depending on the temperature of your surroundings, you may need to wait anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes for the film to develop. When the time has elapsed, pull the image off of the developer and you’ll have a tangible instant memory. We recommend skipping the Outkast “shake-it” moment.


If you’re absolutely set on autofocus, Polaroid made specific cameras that focused using, wait for it, sonar. Good luck getting your hands on these in operating condition.

As a perfectly self-contained camera, the Polaroid Land camera 210 is a great summer camera. Ensure that any one that you purchase or find has a working meter as all of these cameras have electronics built in and need batteries. The Impossible Project sells them but you can also find versions that have been modified to take double A batteries. If you want to purchase one, ensure that you ask the seller beforehand about it and also remember to check the insides of the battery compartment. Many owners over the years left their cameras by the wayside and the batteries corroded the compartment.

If you find one in spiffy condition, then take it and run with it.

Resources

Flickr Group Gallery
Fujifilm ISO 3000 Black and White
Fujifilm 100 Color.
eBay Search
Impossible Project

Polaroid Land Camera 210 Gallery


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