Saturday, June 19, 2010

POLAROID BURN: Polaroid Obsession & Its Dangers

Polaroid Pack Film

I loaded my (recently acquired) 1963 Polaroid 100 Automatic Camera with a pack of Polaroid 690 film (actually re-boxed Fujifilm FP-100c! – read on), set up my shot and fired the shutter. Great shot!

Polaroid Automatic 100 Land Camera

I pulled the white tab only to have it “snap” rip, leaving me dumbfounded. (You see the magic of Polaroid pack film occurs when you pull the film out of the camera through the internal camera rollers that releases the developer onto the print. The one and only “lifeline” has ripped! What to do?)

Roller cleaning directions
photo by Flickr photographer Elijah /

I walked over to a dark part of my studio and gently opened the back of the camera. “If I could grab the other end of the ripped piece,” I thought to myself. I did manage to grab the ripped tail of the white tab, gently inch it out, close the back of the camera and pull.

Polaroid Pack Chemical Mishap

Two shots wound up coming out of the camera at the same time, oozing caustic developing chemicals all over the camera rollers, camera door and my fingers. Rushing over to my workbench, I “jacked open” the camera, ejected the oozy film into the trash bin and evaluated the situation. Evaluation cut short by the burning sensation on my fingertips.

Polaroid Chem Burns
Burned fingertips after washing them

Once I washed my hands I sat back down to establish the damage report. The developer chemical spill was isolated to the roller area. Unlike newer pack cameras, these rollers don’t pop out for a quick cleaning. I learned this the hard way when I thought it would pop out but instead a large cotter pin on one side of the rollers fell out of the camera, leaving one side of the rollers gaping open.

Polaroid Chem Spill

It took a good hour to ponder, repair and clean. An additional ten minutes to decide whether to load another pack of film.

I loaded a pack of Fujifilm FP-100c, set up my shot, fired the shutter, removed the camera from the tripod and headed back to the work bench. I ever so carefully applied an even (rocking motion) tension as I pulled the white tab to eject the first exposure. Success. End of Polaroid Burn #2.

Earlier in the day, I was in Fairfield, NJ and stopped into the Unique Photo Super Store.

The beautiful thing about visiting a Super Store is the joy of seeing lots of film displayed on the “floor” in isle displays. A glorious and rare site!

Unique Photo Super Store
photo by Henrique Couto /

I stocked up on Fujifilm FP-100c, FP-3000b as well as the discontinued Polaroid films 664 (100asa BW), 690 (100asa color) and 667 (3000asa BW).

I was going to purchase two packs of Polaroid 600 film as well but decided against it when the clerk kindly told me that each pack was $50. each(!!!) I said, “You’re kidding.” He said “No, the price was recently raised because our supply is so low.” Wow, that’s $5. per picture!

Goodbye Polaroid Fun

Hey, I understand and agree with free enterprise but I can’t help but feel that it’s wildly unfair to raise the already unfair (previous price) of $30. to $50. per 10 image pack.

Back at the studio, I compulsively stacked the film in my film shelf. I opened the Polaroid 690 film to discover that the film inside was actually Fujifilm FP-100c! That’s right…the box is a Polaroid 690 box and the film inside was a sealed FP-100c package of film. Flag on the field…foul play! Polaroid Burn #1!

Polaroid Saturday 6/19/2010

Ouch. Two burns in one day and some dodgy shenanigans by Unique Photo BUT…lets look at the positive side…I now know how to disassemble and reassemble the rollers on the 100 series of Polaroid Pack Cameras. That’s something, right!

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1 comment:

  1. Yeah - that whole Unique Photo fiasco is really shady. There was a really long discussion on it here:
    I personally think it is quite unfair.
    As for the ripping problem - that happens sometimes with certain packs. You might need to unlock the back and ever-so-slightly open it to loosen the pack as you pull out the first or second print - after that it should be ok...
    Here's a discussion on that:

    Best of luck!