View Full Version : Modified Polaroid 110B User Feedback

Mark Carstens
29-Sep-2006, 09:24
I'm intrigued by the idea of a relatively inexpensive handheld 4x5 camera and have read, in the verey few threads I could find, that a modified Polaroid 110B makes for a nice setup.

I'd like to hear from those of you who use them regularly is the good, bad and the ugly of your experiences, and find out if it's really worth my while. I would use it to make images of my three year old son and take it into the field to make exposure/composition checks for 8x10.

Thanks in advance for your input and feedback.

~ Mark

Chris Pandino
29-Sep-2006, 10:36
While I have not used them modified, I have used the 110A and 900 handheld and loaded with a sheet of 4x5.

I would recommend just buying a standard 110A or 110B ($30-$100) and trying it with a single sheet first just to get a feel for the camera itself.

While they are great cameras with sharp lenses, I really don't the ergonomics of the shutter release and focusing. The vertical tripod mounting hole is awkwardly placed as well. It would be a shame to shell out hundreds of dollars just to discover it doesn't work for you.

Personally, I would much rather shoot handheld using a Crown Graphic w/ working, coupled RF. I don't think there is much, if any weight difference. A modified 110 might actually be heavier, though more portable.

Oren Grad
29-Sep-2006, 13:19
Mark -

Based on limited experience with a Dean Jones "Razzle" 110B conversion, I'd say a few things:

I find it readily hand-holdable, though not for extended periods. Weight is about a pound lighter than a 4x5 Crown with spring back, and the advantage would be greater compared to a 4x5 Crown with Graflok back, which most users seem to prefer. Other 110B conversions may be heavier than this one - Dean's been at it for a while and has been gradually refining his design.

The combined range/viewfinder is very nice, and for smooth handling and quick response it's an advantage compared to the separate range/viewfinders of a Graphic or other press or technical cameras.

The shape is a bit unwieldy, and whether the grip and the shutter release are comfortable will be a personal thing.

The front standard seems a bit dainty compared to a Graphic or a metal-bodied technical camera like a Horseman or Technika. I don't know how well it would hold up under heavy use. OTOH, the fact that these things are still usable after 40 years is a good sign.

The standard lens (127 Ysarex) is a mixed bag. Coverage isn't quite adequate for 4x5 at wide apertures and distant focus. I'm not thrilled with the bokeh, either - although the lens is a Rodenstock, the rendering bears no relationship whatsoever to that of a late-model Apo-Sironar - but that's a matter of personal taste too.

It can be used effectively for candid snapshots, but not of subjects that can't sit still. A 35mm camera would be a much better match for a 3 year old.

I don't see any value in using it for exposure/composition checks for 8x10. In general, I don't see benefit in doing composition checks in a smaller format because for me, composition for the small format is different from composition for the large format. And specifically, the lens is sufficiently different in both field of view and image character from anything I'd use on 8x10 that even if the scale factor weren't an issue, the results wouldn't translate very well.

Hope this is helpful. Maybe Frank Petronio can jump in on this one as well...

Mark Carstens
29-Sep-2006, 20:23
Thanks, Chris and Oren, for your feedbaack. You both helped me put things in their proper perspective. There's nothing like the voice of experience.

Oren, you raise some good points, especially WRT the exposure/composition check for 8x10. It reminds me of what my dad used to say to me when I was chasing an idea that didn't make sense, "You're barkin' up the wrong tree, son!"

Anyway, thanks again for your input.

~ Mark

29-Sep-2006, 21:15
I am now the proud owner of two of these polaroid conversions made from 110Bs - the first one uses the standard Ysarex lens, and I had a Schenider 150mm Xenar placed on the second one. As a result of the new lens, I can't close the second camera all the way so I've been thinking of putting something in the camera so the lens isn't crushed - like a piece of styrofoam or something.

I use these cameras with grafmatics. I last used the first conversion camera (with the standard lens) on a trip to Rome and Venice in July. I carried aroud a few grafmatics in handy belt pouches and took something like 36 shots per day (I'm still developing them, 3 mos later!)

Nothing beats a large negative, and even though I have a super speed graphic, I find that the Polaroids are lighter and easier to handle.

My biggest complaint is about mounting on tripod heads. There are two holes for this. The one on the door is not really accessible since the focusing knob gets in the way. The wonderful guy who did the conversions has an adaptor and I'm supposed to give him the camera next week for installation.