Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Impossible Project: A future for instant film...

For those that haven't heard, there is a new instant film producer in town...we hope. Florian Kaps, the man behind Polanoid and Polapremium (formerly Unsaleable), has started something he calls The Impossible Project. This is an attempt to re-energize and recreate the integral film market, which most of you know as Polaroid 600 film. The plan isn't to continue the Polaroid brand name or to continue existing Polaroid product lines, but rather to market a new brand of integral film, with new chemistry, for existing Polaroid integral cameras. According to this article, there will initially be two film types, one compatible with 600 cameras, and one for SX-70 cameras.
Florian and his associates have actually purchased the equipment from the Enschede, Amsterdam factory and leased the facility for 10 years. Along with a cadre of Polaroid experts, the plan is to produce a new integral film by the end of 2009, with probable release in 2010.
This is very exciting! I typically prefer peel-apart over integral (peel-apart was produced in Mexico and it has been suggested that the equipment has been trashed), but instant film is good in any form. I wish them luck!

You can help, too, by going to the site and filling out the form with ideas about whatever you feel you can help with. For me, the best way I can think to support the cause is to spread the word and continue to use and show my love for instant film. It may not be the most important issue facing us in these modern times, but I believe it is a just cause! Check out the site! There are some cool Polaroids of the location and equipment, and you can read about the people involved and the goals of the project!
These are a few of more more favorite integral film shots to wrap this up...

Peace through Polaroids!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

016-0306-000 C-30 Series Camera Adaptor Kit...

...for Tektronix 400 Series Oscilloscopes with 8x10 (0.8/DIV) Max Display, with C-30A Camera and C-30 Series Camera Pack Film Back.

Ummm...yeah. What he said. What did he say? Basically, this:

I grabbed this nifty piece of industrial technology for a scant 99 cents on eBay. It was super dirty, but underneath the grime I found a minty camera! So what exactly is this camera for? Well, oscilloscopes, of course.
So lemme go grab my oscilloscope and hook this baby up. Oh, what? I don't have an oscilloscope? what good is this thing? Lots of good...lots. of. good. As it turns out. See, the interesting thing about this camera is that it is built to take photos of a screen that is seemingly microns away from the front of the camera. This means that it takes pictures of things really close to the front of the camera...anything that is super close to the camera. Close= macro. So I have a 99 cent macro Polaroid camera! Nice.
Anyway, let's check out the camera. I'll break it down for you. First of all, this thing is big and heavy. All that blue? Top-grade cast metal. Total machine shop quality gear here...straight outta shop class in high school. Compared to the Colorpack III, it's like Frankenstein's monster.

No plans to strap this around my neck and ride around on my bike. But plans change, baby. Okay, so it's huge and heavy. How does is work? You can see it has a Polaroid back on it...

The back comes apart from the rest of the camera. (Doh! I totally had film in the camera when I opened this up. Dumbass.)

Interesting to note the cast for the Polaroid back includes an indentation where a shutter button would normally go.

The camera body is made up of a few different sections. The back end obviously hooks to the Polaroid back, and has a locking mechanism (or latch) on top, and a tripod mount below.

Fun to see the inspection date. Probably the last time it was used, as well? There was a dried-up pack of Type 107 in the camera when I got it. Dried-up as in didn't work. But I get excited even if I get a pack of non-working film. It's old film! Can't help it!
So there are two sets of bellows. The shutter itself is in the middle of the body, not the end. The front of the camera is just a large open area, where you would attach it to an oscilloscope.

The shutter has both f-stop and shutter speed settings. The aperture goes from 2.8 to 16... so it opens quite wide. You can also see the shutter release and a spot for a release cable.

The shutter speeds range from Bulb to 60.

In the above shot you see the other features of the camera. There are two separate bellows. The rear bellow is for magnification, and the front bellow is for focus (with a focus lock to prevent drift). The magnification settings are from .7 to 1.5, with a diamond shape between .8 and .9, which seems to be the point at which the edge of the camera isn't visible in the shot. I would imagine that the numbers mean exactly what they say...that .7 is 30 percent smaller than the actual image, while 1.5 is 150 percent larger. The focus makes less sense to me. The numbers are from 1 to 10. But when you have the focus set at farthest away from the image (bellows short), it sits at 7, and fully extended, the knob turns a couple times around. So I have no real frame of reference for what these mean. It's even tough to say "I had the focus set at 8," because there is 8, and then there is 8 again when you turn the knob around past 7 again. So I basically use a bit of guesswork and intuition when focusing. It's not all that important anyway, for reasons I will explain when I show some output images.
Here is the camera at lowest magnification and closest focus...

And highest magnification and furthest focus...

And, just because, here is the bottom with some mystery port.

Okay, so how do you use this camera? I thought that I would have to waste a bunch of film trying to figure out how it works. I figured I would have a bunch of outta-focus photos. I discovered in one shot that you pretty much just have to make sure that whatever you are shooting has to be somewhere within about half an inch from the front window on the camera. This was my first shot, using Fuji FP-100C. I set the shutter speed at 60 and the f-stop at 8.

Wow, loverly! Some massive depth there. Nice pinpoint focusing on the leaf tops and then it just fades in the distance. I made a serious attempt to keep track of my magnification and focus settings for all of my experiment shots, but it got really difficult with the odd focus numbers. Here is one shot at the smallest magnification (.7) and the furthest focus (the 7 that is 'point zero').

What you are seeing is the metal frame in the shot. But it most definitely has a wider focal depth. On the magnification bar, there is a diamond shape between .8 and .9. This seems to be the point at which the metal frame isn't visible in your shot (though if you pull the focus all the way back, you can see a bit of it). I really wanted to tell you the settings, but in the end I don't think it really matters. The results are generally similar regardless of magnification, outside of the two extremes. Here is magnification set at 'diamond' and focus furthest away.

And focus at maximum.

Other than the frame edge, it's really hard to tell the difference. There are so many variables, particularly with how far you actually are from the objects. And because the camera is open on the end, stuff like leaves and such can actually sit inside the camera. I found the best results generally came from setting the camera at 'diamond' and the focus at 7-8 the second time around (I guess you could call it 1.7 or 1.8). It's hard to 'mess up' a picture. If it's somewhere near the front, it will be in focus. Everything else will be blur. A couple more shots with the Fuji FP-100C.

And one shot of me. I just held the camera up to my face.

Neat shot, but it illustrates one of the main problems with the camera. It's so big and the lens is set back so far that it tends to block the available light. I had to try and position the camera so the light was shining from behind and to the side, or all would be in darkness.
I tried some Fuji FP-3000B, as well. I think that those that take photos of oscilloscopes mostly use 3000 speed film. It was a lot tougher to use than the 100 film because of the limited aperture and speed settings, which are mostly slow and wide. I just found it a lot less forgiving and the balance between under- and overexposure was pretty slim. Pretty much anything I shot outside was overexposed. Here are a couple attempts with indoor lighting.

I also threw in a pack of ID-UV and wasted a couple shots. Nice tones, for sure.

So a neat camera, eh? How I use it in the future remains to be seen. I've never been a huge fan of macro. There is some interesting stuff, but, really, how many shots of leaves and flowers do I want to do? So I need to think about how to use it without falling into the usual cliches. A leaf or flower shot every now and then is okay, maybe a bug if i can get one, but I want to maybe be a bit more original. The rusty gears are grinding away.
Just because, here are some different oscilloscope Polaroid cameras. All of these images were nabbed from eBay, just so you can see some design variations. The roll film back is interesting.

What's next? Well, I did a little comparison between my two high-end Polaroid cameras, the 180 and 195.

The results were less than surprising, but still somewhat interesting. More on that later. I also picked up a Fuji Instax 200, which is wide-angle integral film. The camera is built like a Fisher Price camera for adult hands...huge and goofy looking. But it might be fun.

Also got a Polaroid SLR 680 SE to talk about....see how it compares to the SX-70. All that and more, soon! Later, doodz.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Girls of Polaroid + Dippits! Yummy!

Okay, I've obviously been single too long, because my first blog post of the year involves checking out all the cute girls in vintage Polaroid instruction booklets. I've even named all of them. Ha ha...just kidding (shhh, Brenda and Janine, you know I don't mean it). A nice nonsense way to begin 2009.
I am honestly curious what the marketing scheme was behind naming a camera Swinger. I assume it's because the original was the first hardcase Polaroid (for Type 20) and sported a handle that would allow the camera to swing at your side. That's the smart answer. I prefer to think that it had something to do with using the cameras at swinger parties or some such. We all know Polaroid cameras make great orgy cameras. Anyway, the Big Swinger 3000...aptly named because it was bigger than the original Swinger and took only 3000 speed film.

Dude, get out of the shot...yer ruining the vibe. I think she is looking at the YES.
This lovely lady is holding a Colorpack II.

And her lovely friend.

They are both so...lovely.
This woman is holding a generic folding camera. Theoretically an M60, but I guess she must appear in multiple booklets for various cameras. Here, we see her vertical and, ahem...horizontal. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

A rather smart-looking chick and a Square Shooter. She must be shooting a short person.

And another with a Square Shooter 2. An equally attractive lady with a more attractive Square Shooter (I think the original Square Shooter is one of the uglier Polaroid cameras, only slightly better looking than a Spectra).

She's just as cute as a button. A cute button, of course. Not one of those ugly buttons.
This hottie with a Super Shooter is just downright shekshy, with her sculpted eyebrows. Get a firm grip with your left hand? Please do.

What are you doing now, my lovely Super Shootress? Besides being 35 years older. Bet you haven't aged a day. Maybe 35 years, but not a day.
I only have one lady with an SX-70. And by lady, I know what I mean. Wink. Nudge.

I guess the SX-70 was already sexy enough without female presence.
This is my own personal addition to the storyline, a friend and a Super Shooter. I'll keep it clean for her.

Check this out. Some hot developing action (clean didn't last).

Oh yeah....pull that tab. Uh huh..don't stop. You know how I like it...

Man, those are some excited Polaroids. They defy gravity.

And peeeel.

Whoops, got a little excited there, made a mess with my developing goop.
ANYway, I guess that's enough of that. That certainly was spicy. On a funny side note, I saw this in a Square Shooter booklet.

I'm all like, ummm...what type of film is that? I've never heard of Type 75! So I'm looking all over the Web and eBay. Well, duh, I realized it's the ISO. Film Speed. Oh. Ha. Dumb!

And while I'm talking about complete nonsense, I made the most pointless Polaroid purchase ever to start the year out. It was only 99 cents, so it didn't break the bank or anything, but...what the heck am I going to do with this stuff?

Dippit. So, what is Dippit? A couple posts ago I talked about a couple rolls of Type 46 I had obtained. Well, this is the stuff you dip your Type 46 slides into. Fixer, basically. Well, not basically. It is fixer. Open up the case and we find four boxes of the stuff. Nice stains. Maybe I should be wearing gloves. Nah, what's a little finger cancer.

Someone obviously didn't store this end up. Let's check out one of the boxes.

And inside...

Those chemicals look tasty and expired. This is encouraging:

Old (hey, only 34 years), flammable, possibly unstable chemicals. I think I'll store them next to my bed, close to my pillow. I may open these up at some point and rinse out the chemicals. Or make a cocktail.
So the name implies that you dip the slides into the Dippit. The instructions explain it better than I could.

Simple enough. Heh. Be sure the lips of the Dippit are clean. Heh heh. That's what she said.
I'm not going to use it, of course. If the Type 46 magically works, I'll probably just use regular fixer. If that .01 percent chance that it will work actually occurs.
Dippit. I buy it so you don't have to. Ugh, it feels like my eyes are burning now.

Last shot, a funny photo from a Polaroid booklet, explaining that all of your subjects should be lined up and looking away from the flash (spare the eyes). And at least one should have funny hair. I took a photo of the photo with an SX-70.

A few things to talk about in the future. I bought a special Polaroid for shooting oscilloscope screens (for 99 cents, even). Should be interesting. Also, I'll be heading to Japan for a few in March, hang with the famous Skorj. Need to figure out how to get a bunch of Polaroid film over there. I figure I can buy Fuji FP-3000P when I'm there. Should be some good times.
ANYway, talk later.