Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Box o' Polaroid

I work nights now, so my sleeping schedule is all wonky. So last night I'm trying to sleep because I have a work-related class in the a.m., but, of course, I'm wide awake. And with a headache. So...I made a camera. Makes sense.
In my continuous pursuit to make the coolest, ugliest Polaroid camera ever, I've done the pinhole, and I've done a few different Diana-roids. I did the Imperial Continental Polaroid. Time to move up and onward.
I bought this old box camera for $8 at an antique mall...

Open it up and find this huge spool inside.

Not 120. It's a Kodak No. 2 Brownie. So, okay, a camera I can't really use. It was cheap, and I just let it sit on a shelf. So, last night, feeling all crappy and with insomnia, I get the sudden urge to make a Polaroid camera out of it. Again, makes sense. Pain breeds creativity. That's probably not true. Anyway, so I pull the box camera apart. Very, very simple. The front is attached to the inside spool holder by four small nails.

Takes me less than two minutes to take it apart.

What to use for a Polaroid back? I have my old ProPack back, but I decided to use my Polga, which is the back for a Holga. Pretty much very disappointed with the Polga. Overexposes square film and I just don't much like the Type 100s in it. I'll have to mess around with it some more, but it is kind of a piece of junk. The film gets stuck in it a lot, and the rollers gunk up after just a couple shots. So let's use it for something else.

Kind of cool, it is the exact same size as the box camera.

So I measure the focal length...

Which is about 118mm...take away about 4mm to adjust for the film place being set back a bit farther in the back. Then I cut out the sides using mailing boxes.

Amazing, the back is the exact same size as the box camera top... so they fit together perfectly.

For some reason, I didn't take a picture of the camera all taped together, but it looks like that with black tape all over it. Because I did this at 3:30am, I couldn't try it today after my class I took it out front and shot a shot, a shot I say. Using expired Type 679.

Well, looky there! That is pretty sweet! Big question mark, though...why the black box? Looks like 600 in reverse. I took one more shot, of myself, just to verify that something funky was going on. I looked so rancid that I gave myself George Harrison hair, because no one was cooler than George Harrison. I think it works. I look like a rock star. A rock star found dead on a bathroom floor in a pool of his own piss and vomit.

Moving on...why the black box? Pull the thing's the problem.

Stupid Polga has a frame in it. Why? I don't know. It shouldn't matter if you are using a Holga. The frame isn't going to extend beyond the frame of the Polaroid anyway. Junk, I say. Okay, so let's go back to my ProPack back. I also discovered that the body of my camera is slightly smaller than the width of a Polaroid shot, so I had to make it wider at the bottom. Fortunately, I already had a base from previous experiments. Tape it all together...the beast:

Take it out again and take the last shot on the pack of 679...

Well, that's some expired film. But! It is full frame! and it looks like it works! That black bar on the side happened because the print was crooked on the developer side.
Drop in a new pack, this time UV-ID, expired I think January of this year. Out to the pool, another shot.

Works! A bit overexposed. The shutter on the box camera is kind of slow and the aperture is very wide. I tried a shot using my 3000 filter.

Hmmm...that's too dark. I need something a bit brighter, maybe a 1-stop ND filter. Though I really like the overexposed look of the expired 679.
That's all I've done so far. I'm hoping to take a road trip this weekend. I'm still waiting for my 180, so if that shows I'll definitely go out and play with the polabox some more.
I am really tired. Until next time...


  1. Oh - You having kinda trouble with that box of yours! And... Those results! And you're happy! And it was 3am! My hero! lol

    Anyways, enjoyed your blog a lot. Its funny and got some cool stuff. And I wanted to get myself a Holga and you helped me sorting things out.

    Thanks a lot! :D

  2. Anonymous7:52 AM


    I'm Alisha from Wowzio, and I'm excited to tell you about our new widget platform that helps bloggers increase readership by providing engaging widgets containing your blog's rich content. You can check out widgets customized for your blog here:

    Wowzio Widgets for your Blog

    I wanted to reach out to you to ask for your feedback on these widgets (feel free to install them on your blog, if you feel they are a good fit). I'm sorry for leaving this message via a comment, it's not at all our intent to spam you ( which is why i'm leaving this comment on an older post and you can always remove this comment ). Again, we would love to hear your feedback.

    Alisha Wright

  3. I have one of those Swinger cameras collecting dust in my grandma's house. I'm not sure if I'll ever track down some film to use it though. I'm to lazy to mess with my Holga as it is.

  4. Anonymous5:49 PM

    man this is fantastic. i just stumbled across your blog through flickr and i'm enjoying your various photographic projects and experiments. keep it up. -hale/tiom

  5. chris: if it's a big swinger, you can use fuji fp-3000b, which is cheap (6.99 a pack) and readily available on the web. certainly less work than a holga (easier to get a print) and a very addictive format.

    and nice spumco style.