Monday, May 05, 2008

The Polaroid "Continental"

Wot? Two posts in two days?! Yep, I'm done with school. I still have other stuff to do (like find a job), but I have muuuch more free time.
A few posts back, I was trying to merge a Polaroid with a Diana. The results were disappointing. The focal length of the Diana is just to small to cover the entire Polaroid frame. Plus, I was having exposure problems. Well, working with a different toy camera, I solved both problems.
The camera I used instead of the Diana was the "Continental", probably the crappiest camera I've ever used. I got it at Savers for $3. The shutter was really inconsistent, sometimes firing, sometimes not, sometimes staying open. I figured I wasn't ever going to use it again. So, looking at it, I considered the fact that it made such large exposures on a 120 roll, the image should spread further across a Polaroid print. The focal length is 88mm, which is less than a Polaroid camera, but more than a Diana.
What the heck, might as well try, right? So I tore it apart (which really only involved removing eight screws from the front). I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get the shutter working properly. Eventually, I just bent up a little piece that seems to be catching on another little piece. That fixed it! I still have to push it firmly and quickly, or it will lag, but it works. I had to use some cardboard to bring the focal length to 88mm. Conveniently, the last one I had made for a pinhole was exactly the correct length (!!). Nice. Taped it all together with my Propack back, simple, but effective. So, may I present the very ugly "Polaroid Continental"...

Hideous! Owell, no beauty queen, but still has hillbilly charm. Here is the back of the camera. You can see the ultra large image frame. I'm probably going to turn this part into a 127 film slicer this summer.

First film I tried was UV-ID, which has an ISO of 75. This is the same color film I tried in my Dianaroid, but it wouldn't expose properly. Same problem with the Continental.

Okay, so I went to the opposite extreme and used Type 667, which is ISO 3000. Overexposed, of course. Though the goop actually worked well.

So you notice that YES, the image does cover the entire Polaroid! And it is generally in focus, as in not a complete blur. Success! Sweetness. But that darn exposure. Well, how about 667 inside? Maybe less light would allow for proper exposure.

Guess not. That was the last shot on that pack, so I grabbed another black-and-white pack that I had in another camera. I thought it was 667. Took it outside, figured I'd try again, in case it was just the shutter acting funky. This is what I got:

Yipes! That's not 667! That's 664! Type 664 has an ISO of 100. Well, there you go. And it makes complete sense, as most toy cameras seem to have a shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second. Problem solved. I now have a working toy Polaroid camera.
So, today I wanted to use this bad boy. Drove to the west side of Phoenix, to the White Tank Mountains. I had dreams of hiking up a mountain and shooting with my different cameras. Bugs! I mean, seriously. Bugs. There were soooo many gnats, I made it about half a mile through the desert before I had to turn around. I was pretty close to flipping out. I would have taken slow, deep breaths to calm down, but I would have sucked a bunch of gnats into my lungs. I was covered with the things. Here is a shot of them on my truck (shot with my SX-70). These were the smaller gnats. There were really big gnats sticking all over my arms and legs...

So much for that idea. I did get a few shots, and I did drive around for a couple of hours taking pictures of the fields and desert and such. Probably got around 10 shots from the Continental. I think it works exceptionally well. It definitely has a sweet area of focus...around five or six feet. After that, all is a blur. Still get some nifty blurry distant shots.
Enough talk! More pictures!

Very nice. A bit of warp, a bit of vignette and blur. It has a much wider angle than a normal Polaroid lens...almost pinhole-like, except with blur. Very toycam. Here are a couple shots from beyond the realms of focus.

It's almost impossible to shoot a level photo using the Propack viewfinder. It always tilts. I've read some other complaints about this. I may just pop out the glass and use the plastic frame as a viewfinder, maybe make crosshairs.
Still, I'm thrilled that it works. They have a nice, vintage quality to them.
The next step may be to make it a bit sturdier. Build a better frame and seal it with something better than electrical tape. I want to try some 100 ISO color film in it next...690 or Fuji FP-100C.
I just got a Polaroid 102 in the mail....and a correction from my previous post: all of the folding Polaroid cameras focus. It's the same style as my 195, with the slide bars on top of the bellows. I'll post more on the 102 after I get some batteries working in it and shoot some with it. Until next time, doods.


  1. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Awesome! It's definitely a keeper, the shots are sweet!

  2. Anonymous8:14 PM

    "no beauty queen, but still has hillbilly charm" best sentence ever.

  3. I found your blog a few days ago, and now I'm obsessed - all I can think about is buying junk cameras and tearing them apart to make new hybrid monsters. Anyway, just wanted to say that your blog has been very inspiring! :)

  4. You think this camera is hideous? I think you will get a lot of new friends if you go out with that thing. Better than digital cameras with an artificial shutter sound. Hate those!