Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Polaroid J66

21

Once in a while someone finds my blog and my old-camera posts and offers me their old gear. Such was the case with a fellow in Madison, Indiana last year. It turns out he and I have an acquaintance in common, and the next time she made a trip to Indianapolis she brought a big box full of his old cameras. This Polaroid J66 was in the box.

Polaroid J66

Produced from 1961 to 1963, the J66 was made in large numbers probably because it was less expensive than other Polaroid cameras that used the old instant roll films. That’s not to say it was a low-priced camera – its 1961 $89.50 price tag is equivalent to about $690 in 2013 dollars.

The J66 is enormous. Check out how small a roll of 35 mm film looks next to it.

Polaroid J66

The J66 takes only Type 47 Polaroid black-and-white roll film, which along with the other 40-series films was discontinued by the early 1990s. If you search around the Internet, you’ll find that several people have converted their J66s to use regular 120 non-instant film. Heaven knows why, as this camera isn’t particularly well specified. It packs an f/19 plastic meniscus lens mated to a pneumatic rotary shutter that operates from 1/15 to 1/1000 sec. It uses a selenium cell to set exposure; there is no manual exposure control.

Polaroid J66

My J66 came with its instruction manual and a very nice guide to taking beautiful Polaroid photographs. From them I learned that this camera was anything but simple to use. But I suppose that in 1961 it still seemed remarkable that instant photography was possible at all.

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21 thoughts on “Polaroid J66

  1. Lone Primate

    Well, Jim, you’ve certainly shown me the strangest-looking camera I’ve ever seen. It looks like a camera sticking out of a camera… like that mouth-in-a-mouth setup in Alien or something. :)

    Ninety bucks in ’61 is 700 today? Good grief! O_o

    1. Jim Post author

      It is an odd-looking duck. Check it out when it’s all opened up:

      Polaroid J66

      So complex. Thank goodness Polaroid kept working to simplify instant photography.

  2. Jennifer S

    I know very little about cameras, but I’m always very excited when any mid-century find (stereo, radio, car) comes with its original owner’s manual. I don’t know why, but it’s just really interesting reading.

    1. Jim Post author

      I agree. I also like seeing how typography was used in those old manuals, plus the styles in any photography in the manual. My J66 came with its user manual plus a really neat 8×10 booklet called “How to make better Polacolor pictures” that is chock full of great photos. I should have photographed them for this post.

  3. ryoko861

    For a minute there I thought I had that exact camera, but it turns out I have the 320 which was only out for 2 years (’69-’71). I kind of think it’s pretty. I love anything mid century!

  4. renée a. schuls-jacobson

    Have you taken any pictures with it yet? I’d love to see what they look like, compared to digital photos. Cool beans, Jim! Hey, and thanks for stopping by my place today. I think you should have cooed a little about your cool new toy! ;)

    1. Jim Post author

      Oh, unfortunately film hasn’t been made for this camera in 20 years. And I buy so many old cameras that it’s a fairly routine occurrence anymore!

  5. pesoto74

    These old Polaroids seemed like a wonder when I was a little kid back in the 60’s. It is funny to see the sometimes high prices that people ask sometimes for these in the antique shops. Not sure where they get the idea that they are rare or valuable. I too have read of people doing conversions with these, however I agree that it is probably not worth the trouble.

    1. Jim Post author

      Ted, yes, I see these offered at ridiculous prices from time to time too. The J66 was extremely common and therefore is hardly worth anything.

  6. Alex

    hello, in Spain use a Polaroid 600, now I live in Indianapolis Indiana, last week cleaning the garage I found two polaroid one is J66 and the other is Polaroid reporte land camera film 107C, i know that J66 uses film 47 is very difficult to find and do not want Converted, you know if there is any current film compatible?

  7. windowslover6767

    The J66 came out in 3 different versions though. The 1961 model had a yellow dot on the light/dark ring, close to the red dot. The 62-63 versions had a blue/green dot. I have the 61 version, and i actually still have the original Duracell battery, which is completely corroded. But still a nice piece!

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