I’ve decided I’m done with integral-film Polaroid cameras. Pricey film and meager results — not enough pleasure for the cost.
So I listed all of my integral-film cameras on eBay — except for my SX-70, which I still find enormously fascinating, even though I will almost certainly not shoot it again.
One last pack of expired 600 film lurked in my fridge, so I put it into my OneStep 600 (pictured) for a final hurrah. I burned through the entire pack in an hour.
Despite storing this pack cold, it deteriorated heavily over another pack I got at the same time but shot in late 2012. Much more of the photosensitive material had pulled away from the corners, and colors had shifted badly. Compare these photos to photos from the other pack here.
My favorite shot from the pack is this one of a Panera Bread store, because the green corners frame the building so well.
I was out for a haircut; the fellow who cuts my hair works in this strip mall.
I shot the rest of the pack close to home. Here’s my front stoop. We’ve had a little snow.
My neighbor’s gable isn’t truly the same color as the sky, but this film sure couldn’t tell it.
Meet my front door. I really dislike the sailboat door knocker. You’d think that after living here 7½ years I’d’ve done something about it.
Here’s another entry into a small collection of “Why didn’t the shutter fire….Drat” photos of my forehead. Unfortunately, this used up the remaining bulb in the flashbar that came with the camera.
So long, integral-film instant photography. From now on, when I have a hankering for pronto prints, I’ll put a pack of FP-100C into my Colorpack II. I’ll save money and get better images.
Polaroid introduced its 600 film in 1981 as a higher-speed variation of the original SX 70 film. These are both “integral” films, the kind where the picture shoots out of the camera and develops before your eyes. The Polaroid OneStep 600 was the first camera made to use the new film.
The OneStep 600 comes with a plastic (probably), fixed-focus, single-element lens said to be 116 mm at f/11. The camera couples some sort of light meter to an electronic shutter, which can fire from 1/4 to 1/200 sec. Flash is via a “Flash 600” bar, a strip of ten flash bulbs you plug into the top of the camera. They were designed specially for these cameras, and thus haven’t been made in ages. My camera came with one that has one unused bulb on it.
There’s nothing to using the Polaroid OneStep 600: frame the shot, press the button, done. While the button slides easily, it is in a somewhat awkward place. Fortunately, the camera is easy to hold steady in your hands while you shoot. And shoot I did with some 600 film expired since 2006 that I had lying around.
But first, if you like Polaroid cameras also see my reviews of the One600 (here), the SX-70 (here), the Automatic 250 (here), the Big Swinger 3000 (here), and the Colorpack II (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
This is my favorite shot from the pack. I learned while researching this post, after I’d shot the whole pack, that the lens is sharpest at four to five feet. Given that Polaroid cameras were positioned as the ultimate fun camera for taking pictures of friends and family, I guess that makes sense. This traffic barrel of in the middle of my street was right in the lens’s sweet spot.
Most everything else I shot was much farther out than five feet, which resulted in softer focus. Not that this lens is ever pin sharp.
These photos don’t look any different to me in terms of color and sharpness than the shots I got from my One600. Photoshop Elements made these scans look way better than the actual photos, in which all colors looked brown. Even though Polaroid integral prints always had muted, off colors, the brownness of these prints (and the black corners where the emulsion has eroded) has got to be because the film is so long expired.
Polaroid’s integral-film cameras were popular when I was a kid in the 1970s and 1980s and I always wanted one. Even now I’m charmed when this camera shoots out a print which develops before my eyes. But as I look at each of these photos I keep thinking that I could have done so much more with these subjects using pretty much any non-Polaroid camera in my collection.
If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here! To get Down the Road in your inbox or feed reader, subscribe here.
Unwanted cameras sometimes make their way into my hands. Not long ago, a Polaroid One600 became a permanent resident at the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras.
Polaroid introduced 600-series film and cameras in 1981. One of Polaroid’s signature moves was to create a whole line of cameras out of a basic body by varying features – one model might have a close-up lens, another model might have a self-timer, a series of models would have autofocus, several models would have a built-in flash, and so on. Polaroid created five or six basic 600 bodies over a 30-year period. The last basic body came out in about 2001 – which was the year Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt. The One600 uses this final body; it might be Polaroid’s last gasp.
At least the body’s design is clever. When you press a square button on the back, the camera opens up. The fixed-focus 100 mm lens, which is almost certainly made of plastic, is on the wide side. The built-in flash is common to all cameras with this body.
Around back the One600 has a feature not seen before this body: an electronic frame counter. It’s the little LCD window next to the viewfinder. It shows the number of shots left in the film pack.
This One600 came with four packs of 600 film. They all expired in 2006, but I was glad to get them. The post-bankruptcy Polaroid Corporation stopped making film in 2008. You can buy expired 600 film on eBay, but it’s not cheap. You can buy new films for 600-series cameras from Polaroid Originals, but they too are expensive and are quirky to use.
Each 600 film pack contains a battery that powers the camera, a great Polaroid idea meant to ensure that their cameras never ran out of juice. Of course, Polaroid Corporation didn’t count on going out of business. Unused batteries fade away with time. It won’t be long before all expired Polaroid integral films will be useless, and our only option for shooting these cameras will be to buy from Polaroid Originals.
If you like Polaroid cameras, also see my review of the One Step 600 (here) the SX-70 (here), the Automatic 250 (here), the Big Swinger 3000 (here), and my favorite, the Colorpack II (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
Expired film can yield good images for years if it’s refrigerated. Unfortunately, this expired film was stored in a closet, and it delivered poor results. The colors all tended toward brown, and the photo-sensitive material had pulled away from each print’s upper corners. Fortunately, the software that came with my scanner worked wonders on these images, bringing out truer-to-life colors. It couldn’t do anything about the corners, though. It also couldn’t overcome the softness of the One600’s lens, although I suppose I could improve that a little in Photoshop.
I was surprised to find that the One600 is cumbersome to use. The viewfinder throws a fisheyed image that left me feeling disoriented. And with the camera at my face the shutter button is right next to my cheek, making it awkward to press and making it necessary to steady the camera entirely with my left hand. So I tended to just get the shooting over with as quickly as possible, leading to a whole bunch of poorly composed photographs. This, sadly, was the best photo of the two packs I shot.
But the point of Polaroid cameras is not fine art but fun snapshots. Even with its weird usability, this camera would be fun at a party. I showed it to my sons and they were as wowed in 2012 to see the picture shoot out of the camera and develop before their eyes as I was when Polaroid’s first integral-film cameras came out in the early 1970s. My older son thought it was so cool that he had to try it for himself. I just wish he had chosen something other than a sink full of dishes as a backdrop!