52 Cameras: # 105 — Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 104

Not much to show for finished images. I shot three Fuji FP-100C frames but the last one was a test to see if I’d found the problem with the intermittent connection and it’s completely black. I have to be frugal since Fuji has discontinued the last of their pack films.

<DAVE RANT>
How can you have a global monopoly on pack film with millions (tens of millions?) of cameras still in use and not make enough money to bother manufacturing it any more?

Seriously, how much profit margin does Fuji need? They don’t have any engineering costs to pay down, it was Polaroid’s design. Maybe a little bit to improve it over the years but they didn’t eat billions (in today’s dollars) like Polaroid did to invent integral film from scratch.

We’re stuck with Instax (a derivative of Kodak’s instant film) for now but if anyone figures out how to mirror-image Impossible film or shoot it through the back, I’m done with these greedy, fickle [bleep]s forever.

Seriously, sell the manufacturing equipment and put the film formulas into the public domain. If you can’t make money with a monopoly, you’re the problem, not the product. Let someone else have a go at it.
</DAVE RANT>

Sorry, I had to get that out.

I tested this camera after cleaning the battery compartment and contacts and the shutter opened. To get some justice from the battery that crapped up the camera, I removed the snaps from the ends of it (the 3V batteries have larger connectors than 9V batteries) and soldered them to the ends of a CR123 lithium battery.

I’m glad I tested again before loading because it stopped working. That’s when I traced the battery wire to the shutter circuit, re-soldered the battery connector, and replaced the foam.

The old foam was fugly and getting crumbs in the working bits.

The old foam was fugly and getting crumbs in the working bits.

Foam from Michael's and white glue.

Foam from Michael’s and white glue.

The shutter was working consistently now so I loaded film and got a late evening image that was back-lit and too dark.

Still cute though.

Still cute though.

Try again with the flash gun.

Dammit!  No flash.  I even wasted a bulb making sure the 268 flash was working.

Dammit! No flash. I even wasted a bulb making sure the 268 flash was working.

I opened it back up and started doing continuity tests. My meter has a nice diode check function that beeps if point ‘A’ and point ‘B’ are connected. I’d get BEEEEP-BE-BE-[silence]-BEEEEP-BE-BE… Argh! Nothing is a bigger PITA than intermittent connections.

Quote from Brian R: Sometimes it’s intermittent but not always.

I guess was cheaper to manufacture but seeing ribbon cable instead of a proper circuit board made me sad — it can melt before solder becomes liquid and it gets brittle with age. It lasted 50 years so I guess I shouldn’t complain but I am because it made me think and work.

At least there were only seven lines from the photocell side to the shutter side.

At least there were only seven lines from the photocell side to the shutter side.

Spiffed up with colorful telephone wire.  The last power wire isn't connected yet.

Spiffed up with colorful telephone wire. The last power wire isn’t connected yet.

An Instax Wide cartridge is a tight fit vertically but it fits. Side-to-side, I eyeballed the spacing with an empty cartridge and did it by feel with a partially used cartridge in the dark bag.

About a pinky width.

About a pinky width.

The last bit is unscrewing some parts in the Polaroid so the back will close over the Instax cartridge.

Don't have to drill any rivets yet.

Don’t have to drill any rivets yet.

Converting from ISO 800 Instax to 100 for the camera is done with a minus-3-stop (ND8) neutral density filter.

I didn’t adjust the exposure and the image is a little dark. The cell being 50 years old might have something to do with that too.

Herbs in pots.

Herbs in pots.

My dark bag can’t hold a pack film camera and an Lomo Instant Wide with room to work. I transferred the film from the Lomo to a film box in the bag, opened up and swapped the Polaroid in, loaded the film, took the picture, moved the film from the Polaroid to the box in the bag, swapped in the Lomo, loaded the film, took the Lomo out of the bag, and took a shot with the lens cap on. Somewhere in that convoluted mess, I got a light leak.

There’s a video on Youtube where a guy loaded the Instax into a pack film cartridge and shot into the front of the Instax film. I may have to play with that but that’s not how it’s made — just look at how the film is oriented when it exits your Instax camera. Like the Kodak instant film or any camera without a mirror between the lens and the emulsion, you have to shoot the back or you get a mirror image. I’ll update this post or do another one with the optics involved so you can see I’m not full of beans.

I can’t bust his chops too much — he has a calico.