Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Polaroid Super Swinger Shooter?

Not sure what to call the newest creation. There is already a Big Swinger, and a Super Swinger, and a Super Colour Swinger. So maybe I just take out the "u" for my own version, the Super Color Swinger. Big Shooter? Super Big Color Shooter?
What the hell am I talking about? Well, for a while I've wanted to run color film through the Big Swinger 3000. Problem is, the shutter speed is fixed at about 1/200, which is too fast for color film, and the aperture only opens so wide. I tried it once, and there was an image, but it was very dark.
Fast forward, yesterday I'm messing around with a Big Swinger 3000 (I have a few) and looking at the lens and thought, hey, why not just put this lens on a regular pack film camera? Then I would have the exposure controls along with the crazy Swinger lens. So I did just that, converting my Super Shooter, and will show all of you my steps, as always.
The first task was to get the lens out of the Big Swinger 3000.


The Swinger has a single plastic lens, and it is held in place by the black ring on the front of the camera. This was a little bit of a pain to get off, and unfortunately I bunged up the front before I figured I could just tap it off from the back, after removing a couple screws to get the shutter off. Though the shutter mechanism was very much intertwined with the front and I doubt I could get it back together properly after the stuff was disconnected. The ring had plastic tabs that were melted over the slots to keep it in place. Easy enough to pop out with a hammer and screwdriver, though. After that, everything just falls apart.


The fancy silver background of the Big Swinger is just paper. The plastic cover makes it look cool. The lens is a very simple piece of plastic, and it actually looks a lot like a Holga lens (with a different focal length, of course). So the next task is to get the lens out of my Super Shooter. This was a bit more work.
First up is removing the silver focusing ring, which is held in place by two tiny tabs. It's easy to remove, but not easy to remove without bending the heck out of (which I did a little bit).


Next up is the clip-on ring that connects the silver ring to the actual focus ring (and prevents the ring from unscrewing completely).



And the last part just unscrews. Note: all that red dust that looks toxic (and probably is) is from the case the camera was stored in when I got it. It had a red "velvet" lining that had rotted to dust and managed to find it's way into every part of the camera.


At this point, I think, oh...it's a twin lens. I decide to put the Swinger lens on top, though I know what the results will be, since the single lens won't be able to focus through the second lens. But...just in case. The Swinger lens was smaller, so I used a bit of double-sided tape to hold it in place, then just screwed the ring in place.




And the results were predictable (using Fuji FP-100C).


This was actually my second shot. On the first shot, I hadn't realized I had the rollers out of the camera. A nice WTF!? moment.
So I take it apart again. The next step is to remove that second lens. This was the toughest part of the whole shebang. It was basically molded into place inside of a hard plastic ring. SO I just pounded the heck out of it until it broke free...then I had two plastic rings to cut out, which was painfully annoying. I didn't want to mess with the screw threads, so i had to slowly cut them out with an exacto. You can see my not-so-pretty results. But this part will be hidden anyway. Also, when I got the second lens off, what do I find? A THIRD lens. What the? Now you know why the hardcase pack film cameras have such fantastic depth of field. So...okay I'll do the same thing, even though I know what the results will be. It took two pieces of double-sided tape to hold the lens in place.



I know exactly how this is going to turn out...


Okay, so I have to get that third lens out. This lens is inside, so now I have to remove the camera front and pull everything apart. This has the potential to be a pain, but I got lucky. Some pack film cameras have bolts, some have screws. This had screws...three. And they unscrewed very easily. Nice. I've done all this before when switching pack film fronts (my very first Square Shooter 2, in fact, on which I put the Colorpack II front so I could use the 75/3000 switch).


Four screws later, the shutter mechanism comes off.


And in case you were wondering what's inside a pack film camera, here it is:

video

So I pop out the third lens and put it back together. Note: when putting the shutter back together, there is a small switch in the upper right that you need to press downward on while replacing...this goes above part of the shutter button. If you don't press down, it will be below the tab and not work properly. Here is the camera without any lenses, let alone three.


Put it all back together (just one piece of double-sided tape this time, with the focusing ring in place). Oh yeah, and even though there is a focusing ring, this thing is fixed focus, just like the original Big Swinger.


Okay, so let's take it out back for a test shot!


Success! Boring, but a success! Another shot, of the self.


Obviously within the focus distance. But I get an image and the exposure works! Fantastic. But...suddenly the camera shutter started acting wonky. It was doing the same thing my Colorpack III was doing Japan. In bright light, the shutter won't fire, but it will in low light. Here, I'm messing around trying to get the thing to work.


The only thing I can think is that I just pounded on the camera too much and knocked the thing out of whack. Probably the equivalent of continuously dropping the camera on the ground. So what to do? Well, all hardcase pack film cameras are basically made up of the same parts, 80 and 100 cameras. I still have the original Square Shooter 2 front that I pulled off my first modified camera...so I just replaced the malfunctioning guts in the Super Shooter front (full circle!). Everything is exactly the same, and I retain the ability to use the 75/100 switch on the Super Shooter. Test the shutter and exposure before putting film in, works beautifully. Let's try this thing out for real! Within a 50-foot radius of my home, of course (until I get a chance to go out to shoot again). Check this out...


Now that's what I'm talking about! Check out that lovely focus and blur along the edges! It seems to have a sweet spot, in the center 2/3 of the lens, about 5 feet from the subject matter. This is what I wanted...that great Big Swinger warped effect with something besides 3000-speed film. This is pretty much what I've been looking for in all of my Polaroid/toy camera combos. Soft edges, sharp in the middle, full coverage on the film, no blown out areas, etc. The camera does what it is supposed to do and the lens does what it is supposed to do...perfect!
A few more shots using ID-UV, expired 2007. Not a lot of exciting stuff to shoot directly around my pad, but I can see the potential. The yellow truck (belongs to a retired firefighter) is the most interesting thing within 50 feet of my front door, so I always take test shots of it.





So the ideal is to have something in the foreground, and something distant to take advantage of the warp and blur (like the hydrant shot and the yucca/parking lot shot). And if it is all close up, then something with texture to show the effects (unlike the side shot of the truck above, which has nothing to really differentiate the middle from the edges), like in this shot of some bushes.


But not too busy!


Nice thing is, I can use 664 for black and white, and I can still use 667 or FP-3000B because of the switch. So it really is a Super Big Swinger!


So that's it! I just need to secure the lens in place a bit better so it doesn't fall out in the field, and I'm ready to head out and shoot at some point! Fun stuff.

10 comments:

  1. I'm impressed, what else to say!

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  2. Lot of work, but great results. Nicely done. Can't wait to see some more serious work with this.

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  3. You are a handy mf'r that is fo sho. Brilliant by design. Bravo. Now let's see what you can do with a Polaroid Big Shot!

    bex

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  4. yeah i've been meaning to pick up a big shot to tear apart!

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  5. I'm taking it out to the Salton tomorrow to test her out. Super excited :)

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  6. Good job! I have a Big Swinger and an Instant 10 pack film camera ,beside others. I also want to build a hybrid (or two)starting from that. My big swinger was a complete mess when I first laid my hands on it. Completly rusted because the previous owner left the batteries inside. And the batteries were some 20 years old.This resulted in rendering the spreaders useless. So....my ideea is to use the rollers from the instant 10 Land camera into the big swinger(BS). Do you have ay ideea -could that work , or is it possible to wreck a film pack for nothing.
    After that I oppened the BS and managed to clean the rust, repair the spring that pulls the shutter back up whitch was broken, by pulling it a little bit more and replaceing it into its original position. Next , I reapaired the little contact that makes the flash bulb work when it is engaged by a little hamer-like switch. This thing was broken and camed off from the metal plate. I glued it back with some epoxy glue. The bigger problem was with the two obturator blades. Those two were badly corroded and fused togeder by rust. I mannaged to separate them and brushed the rust away with a fine wire brush.After that I tried to level back the irregular surfaces with some fine grade sand paper. I managed that but some parts of the blades surface was shiny now . So I tried to put some black paint on them, but that resulted in a complete blockage of the blades, even with the paint complety dried, and in a fine layer. So I dropped the ideea and stripped the paint off with a strong solvent. Another ideea is to blue the obturator blades but I am afraid that this could make them warp. So I leaved them just in that condition,though I suspect that this fact would conduct to some kind of glare inside the camera. After that I used a solderig gun to remove the lens ring fom inside out. Contrary to my initial believe, it worked just fine. I did that because the lens was surrounded with acid cristals and metal oxide from the batteries. I cleand the lens and ring and washed them with soap and water. I removed the front aluminium paper ( it was wrecked by the acid), replaced it with some new aluminium backed plastic foil, and put a strip of red paper on the lower part.Looks great , only the logo is missing. I mounted the lens back, put the obturator blades back, fixed them with their rivet, put the little wire spring that closes the obturator blades. After that I disasembled the wiew finder and rewired the little light bulb, and suprise ...it worked , after more that 25 years. I had a problem puting the wiew finder back together , but finally it worked. Then I had to work some kind of replacement for the shutter knob that was missing. So I tooke a knob from a ball point pen and attached it through the red sliced outer shell of the shutter to the little metal rod inside. When I pulled the plastic replacement up , the little bulb inside the wiew finder lighted up. Hurray! Then I assembled the two metal plates back together with the two screws,put the black plastic cap and mounted the whole assembley to the body withe three screws. A final check and is working. I can't wait till tomorow to buy some 3000 fuji film to try it.
    P.S. Sorry for my english...

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  7. Anonymous4:57 AM

    Hi! Maybe you can help me with something... I found a very cheap swinger 20 today on a garage sale. I couldn't test it so I just bought it, but I'm pretty ignorant on these type of cameras. Still haven't bought a film and don't know if I should because when I press the shutter button the blades inside don't open. Supposing this isn't normal, do you know how I can fix it?
    Joana

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  8. you need to put batteries in the camera. if that doesn't help then it probably doesn't work. but finding type 20 film for the swinger 20 is near impossible!

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    1. Anonymous7:30 AM

      Thanks for your reply! I had been hoping that for a camera which was so popular I'd still find batteries and film!
      Joana

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