Cameras

Polaroid J66

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.


Do you like old cameras
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34 thoughts on “Polaroid J66

  1. Lone Primate says:

    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

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  2. Jennifer S says:

    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.

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    • 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.

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  3. ryoko861 says:

    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!

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  4. 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! ;)

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    • 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!

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  5. 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.

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  6. Alex says:

    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?

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  7. 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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  8. Jorge Moran says:

    Hi people over there…..like a year ago bought me a J66 , just because I like mid-century staffs, but yesterday I got another camara from Kodak instamatic 304…wow. the first one got in a garage sale and the other one in goodwill…and now Im here searching information…greeting to all of you guys.

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  9. john want says:

    Great site. I just now started collecting cameras that i grew up with in the 1960s but of course it is now branching out to other era cameras.

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  10. WL says:

    Hello everyone, thank you for sharing your history about J66. My uncle carried this camera around to photograph a lot of interesting locations around the world. He passed away a few years ago which has not published any of his photos. I own two of the Polaroids today with his accessory bag, instructional manual which of course also has the original flash bulb boxes attached 5 pack.

    I display it on my mantel with many other cameras of 40s to today. Sadly, can’t find the film as you mentioned unless modification is possible. It all about history and where the camera been there, done that! Story. Thank you all for sharing it greatly gives me a story to tell my friends and family.

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    • What a great camera to display. Sadly, the J66’s picture-taking days are over, at least as an instant camera. If you search around the Internet, you’ll find people who have converted their J66s to take 120 rollfilm, which must be processed.

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  11. Wow, great info people. Just picked up my J66 at a garage sale for 1 dollar U.S. along with a Model 320, also for 1 dollar. I’m dissapointed to learn i wont be able to find film for this puppy as i really wanted to test it out. I dudnt think it was that old only because of that little panel thats next to the shutter which looked like a solar power panel and since it didnt come with the correct manual (it came with a manual for a model 95B) i ‘m not sure what it’s for. Thank for the info

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  12. Shy-Ann says:

    I just bought one of these at a yard sale, I only paid $5 for it and I want to know more about it. I don’t know if I should keep it or try to sell it, I don’t even know what’s it’s worth. And help would be awesome. :D

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    • I’m sure it’s not worth much more than what you paid for it, but the best way to know for sure is to go to eBay, type “Polaroid J66” in the search box, and on the page that results find and check the “Sold Listings” box. You’ll see how much these sold for recently.

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    • The value lies in it’s condition and whether it has been modified for 120 Roll film. Unmodified, it is worthless as a camera, but in mint condition looks good on a shelf in the livingroom. To coin a phrase from the various reality TV shows depicting collectors and dealers, “if you find the right buyer” it may fetch 20 bucks. Sadly, most old cameras that were mass produced are worth very little.

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  13. Aiza Mahmood says:

    Hi, I just bought J66 and I have no clue how to use it, as I cant find the film for it so is there an alternate fuji instant film that can be used? and Idont understand the battery either. It would be great If you could guide me a little because I am a starter and I am excited for it to work.

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    • I bear bad news: film hasn’t been made for the J66 in many years. Some people have adapted the J66 to take 120 roll film; there are instructions on YouTube. But it seems like more work than it’s worth.

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