(Crossposting' this from elsewhere)
Instant film photography isn't quite dead.
There are piles of old Polaroid cameras in junk & thrift stores, and almost all of them are totally, utterly useless. The remaining stocks of Polaroid film are well into expiry by now, and being sold for preposterous rates. There is no non-Polaroid source of 600 film, the press-button/picture-spits-out kind that is most familiar. However, the Polaroid packfilm cameras are worth saving, because Fuji still makes color and black-and-white instant packfilm that is compatible with Polaroid cameras and backs with a few minor adjustments.
If you want to get into instant photography you can often find these packfilm cameras quite cheap. I got mine for $20 apiece from a thrift store; one came with a case and filters. The Land List
has a basic rundown of all Polaroid and some other instant-film cameras, so you know which ones you can get film for.
There isn't much difference between the two that I have, except one - the Model 330 - only has two film speeds (ISO 75 and ISO 3000), one aperture apiece, while the other - the Model 230 - adds two more speeds and two apertures per speed. This one I bought second, and I bought it mostly because while Polaroid's packfilms were ISO 75 and 3000, Fuji's are ISO 100 and 3000. Having a built-in ISO 100 settings makes it a lot simpler to use Fuji's film, as these cameras both use automatic exposure.
They are in good shape, but they need to be modified to use modern batteries. This is the type of battery they were designed for:
It clips into a holder and the leads snap on to the terminals. However, these batteries aren't made any more, exist only in back stock and are offered through certain retailers, and are alkaline, so they don't last as well. That battery was bought in 1978; it still has enough voltage to power the meter and shutter, but for how long?
I'm converting the cameras to use lithium AAA batteries. The batteries and holders are easily available from the grocery/Radio Shack, and since they are 1.5 V each, it is simple to make a 3-volt setup for the 330 and a 4.5-volt setup for the 230. Also, I could only find holders for lithium 123 batteries online, and hell if I am going to pay $11 shipping for an 80-cent part.
In order to fit in the new batteries and their holder, I first have to extensively landscape the battery compartments. They aren't terribly big, and there is a lot of plastic already in there to form the battery clips.
Thankfully, it's 1970s plastic. When it isn't soft, it's brittle, which is great because the first step is to rip all that out.
I started with that much, but decided to be safe rather than sorry and pulled out a little more, including the molded posts.
With the battery compartment squared away, the next thing was to work on the battery holder. The four-cell holder I needed for the 230 was too big, and I needed to size it down anyway because the batteries are connected in series. So I chopped out cell #4 (the one connected to the negative wire).
Doing this caused the negative terminal in cell #3 to fall out, which was just fine. The black wire with cell #4's neg terminal goes there to replace it.
This proved to be the most obnoxious part of the whole process. The manufacturers never intended people to move the terminals around on their cheap plastic battery holders, so every aspect of this was a chore. The terminal couldn''t be uncrimped sloppily, couldn't be inserted into the new hole without a lot of enlarging, and couldn't be securely re-crimped. I'm counting on a lot of CA glue to make up the difference.
With all the carving and gluing done, I snipped and stripped the wires, braided them together, put in the batteries, and tripped the shutter to make sure the camera's wiring was all good. It was - IT LIIIVES!
The holder, all tucked away:
That's one Land camera saved from needless oblivion. I just have to hard-connect the wires, buy some film, and do a few minor tweaks so the Fuji pack will work in a space made for a thinner Polaroid pack without wasting half of my shots.
I'm pretty stoked to be able to give instant film a try, since I've never shot with it before.The 330 and 230 pose with 'Grandpa' Model 95A. The 95 is a rollfilm camera and the film is no longer made, so I don't know what I'll do with it yet - convert it to packfilm, convert it to regular film, cannibalize it for other projects, or try to sell it as-is.