Thursday, October 22, 2009

Polaroid copycat: Keystone 60 Second Everflash!

Okay, quicky review here for fun. I bought this thing for $4 on a whim. The Keystone camera was made by Berkey, which seem to be an electronics company that made calculators and cameras (film and movie). Not sure who was on the design team, but Keystone cameras are some of the ugliest available. Some are so ugly, they aren't even "cool" ugly...they are just ugly! The biggest 126 camera ever is a Keystone.

So...Polaroids. They must have had a license with Polaroid to produce what are basically ugly copycats of Polaroid products. Check out this horrible 600 camera. The camera I bought is known as the 60 Second Everflash (also sold as the Rapid-Shot with no flash and red trim instead of blue).

Now, sure it's not attractive...and it's an obvious mockery of your typical hard case Polaroid - your Super Shooters and Colorpacks. But! It's actually quite an interesting bit of plastic. It's kind of a combination of various ideas from different Polaroid cameras. Above, note the button to open the back instead of the metal/plastic bar most Polaroids use to keep the back shut. And I love the pleather back. Maybe it provides padding for your cheek and nose.
Okay, the shutter system. A Polaroid hard case shutter is just one single button that does it all. The Keystone has a two-step shutter system like the folding Polaroids.

Step 1 is to cock the shutter. Step 2 is focus (there is a 2 above the lens). Step 3 is press the blue button! Wheee!
Next up is the obvious flash unit on top of the camera, like many of the 600 Polaroids. This is actually a great idea. The name is referring to the flash being there forever, but not sure what the 60 seconds means...60 seconds to charge? And an Everflash is a great idea....except it doesn't work. Not at all. No powering up, the test button does nothing, no flash. Not ever. The bulb must be burned out...not sure if this is something that can be fixed?
Then we have the electronic timer on the side. Only a few Polaroid cameras feature an electronic timer.

Another great idea! doesn't work. The red light stays for awhile after you pull the film, but nothing happens. I assume it works much the same as the electronic timer on some of the folders. You set it and it activates when you pull the film from the camera.
And speaking of batteries, this camera takes three AA. I assume to provide ample power for that flash and timer. That don't work. But they control exposure, as well, so they have to be there.

The battery compartment is on the underside. The Keystone has two exposure settings: Color and B&W.

Color means ISO 80 and B&W means ISO 3000. Also present is the lighten/darken knob, and it focuses the same as every hard case Polaroid.
One thing that kind of bugged me when using it was the placement of the viewfinder. Not sure why, but I kept going for the left side, but the finder is on the right! does it work? Was it worth $4? Even with all the broken bits? Yep. Check out some shots from the camera (with Type 669, expired 12-2003, except for a single Fuji FP-100C shot)...

Very similar to the hard case Polaroids! But somehow different...maybe because it has a glass lens? But the depth of field is fantastic, and the blur is super silky. It has some of the same exposure issues in lower light that my Colorpack III has, where it can't decide whether to expose light or dark.

And the parallax is off and aims more towards the ground like most cheap cameras, so it's easy to lose what you were aiming for at the top...

But, overall a fairly competent (and ambitious) camera!

I'll be back soon enough with some more interesting stuff I have in the works. Adios!


  1. I've never heard of this camera before, but really like the results! For a $4 camera it is incredible. Was it distributed world wide?

    1. yes it was distributed worldwide, I have one that my grand pa left me. He bought it in germany in 1976

  2. made in the USA is all I know (because it says so on the back). but i wouldn't be surprised if some were exported...

  3. It's kinda cute and clunky in its fugliness.
    Glass lens? Nice. Admirable camera. Thanks for introducing us to it. Never heard of this brand!

  4. Ah it should be called the NeverFlash! Nobody hear of Keystone? No longer around but they have been making cameras for a long while now, a number of movie cameras as well. My oldest keystone movie film camera is from the 1940's.

  5. even though a bit on the fugly side you still manage to take good shots with it...nice dof in the third and fourth ones up and lovin' those letterboxes!

  6. I've been using a very similar Keystone Everflash (it has a more basic timer) as my main packfilm camera for a few months now. I wasn't sure what to expect from it at first and was surprised by the ground glass lens. The sharpness and depth of field are fantastic! So much so that I've had to go back to fleabay to get a plastic lens cam for dreamier shots...
    Got it in the UK, so some did definitely go overseas.

  7. Never heard of this camera before. Good to see your feature, and lovely pics, too!

  8. I just bought the Keystone Rapid-Shot. I can't wait to try it out.

  9. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Great post. I just picked one up. One thing I noticed about this camera is that the photos come out a little dark (underexposed?). Easily fixed by adjusting the exposure with the light/dark knob. A great addition to any Polaroid collection.

  10. I just bought the Keystone 60 Second Everflash, as well. Mine was only $2 at a thrift store in Oklahoma, but it's kind of irrelevant, is it doesn't work. Unfortunately. I've tried to use it with expired film, as well, and it just won't shoot. I've gone through the three steps, but nothing is happening. Such a shame!

  11. I've Just bought one of these from ebay, based on your recommendation/this post. It's been tested and the flash works, and I can't wait to try it out. Carrying around the #268 flashgun and a packet of bulbs sure is annoying!

  12. Meagan2:10 PM

    Any film suggestion? I'm having so much trouble finding some that will work in this camera.

  13. any type 100 (669, 690, id-uv), as well as fuji fp3000, fp100, fp100c, etc. ebay or online photo stores...

  14. Anonymous10:21 PM

    I just bought one, how much is it worth?

  15. I just got the same camera (Keystone 60 Second Everflash -Model 800)in perfect condition from Berlin/Germany. It was given to me for free but decided to pay €5 (about $7) as a token of my appreciation. It works with all features and shoots perfect images :)

    They also have a shop in Berlin that sells refurbished Polaroid cameras and film exclusively!

  16. My buddy Jeff just rescued a Keystone 60 Second Everlast from his parents house. He kindly gave it to me. I stared at it for a good 60 seconds in disbelief. A Polaroid "knock-off?" Could this be true? Fantastic. Keystone was right here in Paramus, NJ! Can't wait to fire it us!

  17. Ah, I had a Keystone screen. But it was not as funny as the camera. The screen was very large, high resolution and very fast but hard as a rock.
    I admire what you've brought out the photos. Bravo!

  18. Anonymous6:57 AM

    Older post but figured I would add my 2 bits.

    I just picked an 800 up from a garage sale. The nice lady told me after 3 days no one showed any kind of interest in it or the 3 boxes of flash bulbs sitting next to it so she just gave them to me. It was pretty dirty but cleaned up nicely.

    It works great but when it came to the flash I had problems with it taking a few minutes to charge enough to activate the flash ready light. I pulled the alkaline batteries out and replaced them with rechargables nickle cadmiums and found that the flash charged much quicker and functions perfectly. So if you are having flash issues try that to see what happens.

    I used rechargables Ni-Cads for my flahes in the old days for fast recycle times while shooting weddings and other events.

  19. Great shots!!

    Thought I'd take a moment and add my two cents in here, too.

    I bought an Everflash 800 a short while ago and found the same issues with the electronics. I believe the problems with my flash stemmed from corroded electrical contacts on the flash switch. After shooting it with some quick-dry contact cleaner and fussing with the switch a bit, my flash is firing up every time.

    Great little camera when stacked up against my Super Shooter, and sure beats carrying around flash cubes!!

  20. Anonymous1:06 AM

    That flash looks vicious. Cool find, cool camera.

  21. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Mine just arrived with everything working. Glass lens! I tested the camera with expired film and got a perfect picture using the flash.

    Jesse Cable, Atlanta GA. 9/7/2013