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Thread: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

  1. #91
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    I use both, at different times, for different things.

    I know some find this hard to believe, but a converted Polaroid is smaller, faster, lighter, and has vastly superior vertical-orientation shooting ability over your garden variety Speed/Crown.

    One of these days I'll grab an old 90mm, a tiny one, and get it put on a 900 model I picked up from a friend for $25 (unless Ben finishes up his project first). With that and my 135mm model I'd be set for most anything I'd want to shoot out in the wild. I could fit both cameras and enough holders for any outing in a small messenger bag.
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  2. #92

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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedGraphicMan View Post
    Hear Hear!

    Too bad vintage Gowlandflexes can't take off as a fad!
    You could market them to the hipster crowd for thousands. Tens of thousands...
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  3. #93
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    I use both, at different times, for different things.

    I know some find this hard to believe, but a converted Polaroid is smaller, faster, lighter, and has vastly superior vertical-orientation shooting ability over your garden variety Speed/Crown.

    One of these days I'll grab an old 90mm, a tiny one, and get it put on a 900 model I picked up from a friend for $25 (unless Ben finishes up his project first). With that and my 135mm model I'd be set for most anything I'd want to shoot out in the wild. I could fit both cameras and enough holders for any outing in a small messenger bag.
    Sacrilege! Ban the heretic!

    I have used a 900 model as well, it was just not for me... To each his own!
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  4. #94
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Fair enough!

    Honestly shooting (handheld) vertical portraits is the biggest thing for me...trying to hold a Speed sideways and all that just never works for me. I cradle the 900 with my left and adjust focus with my right, and pop the shutter with my thumb. Works like a charm, even down to pretty slow speeds. The torque action of trying to do it with a Speed (with the FP shutter trigger) always blurs everything even at moderate speeds. Of course with practice I might find a better way but the 900 just goes and so I have no reason to bother...

    Of course this is all pointless with a tripod setup, but then, why even use a Graphic? Just grab the monorail or field camera and do it.

    I still find a Kalart RF vastly inferior to the Polaroid RF. But that's just me, maybe others feel it is the opposite.
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  5. #95
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post

    Honestly shooting (handheld) vertical portraits is the biggest thing for me...trying to hold a Speed sideways and all that just never works for me. I cradle the 900 with my left and adjust focus with my right, and pop the shutter with my thumb. Works like a charm, even down to pretty slow speeds. The torque action of trying to do it with a Speed (with the FP shutter trigger) always blurs everything even at moderate speeds. Of course with practice I might find a better way but the 900 just goes and so I have no reason to bother...
    You need a handle with an electronic solenoid! That is what I use!
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  6. #96

    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Yeah, they suck!



    Handheld, probably around 1/30th.


    You guys sound like you are talking about me so I thought I would chime in here and tell you my thoughts since I have actually built and used them. This is going to be long I think.

    I became interested in making a 110B conversion probably back in 2004 or so. I didn't have the money to buy one and wasn't all that serious about it at the time so I thought I would give a shot at building one. I didn't know squat about them back then but I picked up a 110B and had at it. First I tried to make the adapter for the back out of Delrin only to find out after routing and working it that you can't glue Delrin. Moving forward...... I saw a picture of the pack film conversion by Three Designs (I think they were called) and a lightbulb went off in my head. Why not use a Polaroid pack film back for the spacer between the camera and the film back? (Turns out I think this is how Littman does it but I didn't know at the time and I have never seen one of his cameras.) I had some laying around so I went to work and it fit right in with a little help. I eventually finished the first one. By that point a good year and a half had gone by and the poor thing had been built and rebuilt a few times at that point but it worked. In the meantime I had gathered a few other cameras to replace parts that I had ruined and thought, why not build one with a telephoto lens in it for portraits? After a bit of research I found out the Schneider 240 Tele-Arton would work and I started to cobble together parts to make it. Fast forward a bunch more time and I didn't want to put the effort into tweaking the rangefinder so I abandoned it and it sat there for quite a while. I had another lightbulb moment when I set down a 135mm Schneider Convertible Symmar next to the abandoned conversion. Why not? The result was a fine camera I still use. The rangefinder is from a 900, the body from a 800 and the bed is from a 110a. The back is from a Sinar Norma machined flat (Frank will appreciate that). It is a real bastard camera, but the focus is spot on. I built an absolutely beautiful/perfect one after this one for a friend to whom I owed a huge favor. I still have one left in me to build whenever I get the motivation and find a specific lens for it. Frankly though they are a pain to do and they take a lot of time.

    So why bother you ask? I think they are great cameras and I hate tripods. They are really easy to handhold if they are built right. I have managed sharp images down to 1/8 but the naysayers probably won't believe me on that one. It isn't an exaggeration. I usually act as my own tripod by resting the camera on my shoulder and shooting sideways. I also use a cable release.

    I can't see messing around with all of the homemade contraptions you see on most conversions out there. If done right the camera is very light, easy to focus and fast to use. With a Grafmatic mounted it is a great lightweight camera to carry around. A lot of people complain about the rangefinder going out of whack but I never have a problem with it. Personally I probably wouldn't like the conversions out there that don't have the facility of a graflok back. They just seem too awkward.

    People say that a medium format camera can be just as sharp handheld as a Polaroid conversion and I won't argue with that, but I use 4x5 for the tone and 120 doesn't equal a 4x5 in that regard.

    If we ever meet Frank I would be happy to let you give my conversion a whirl.

  7. #97

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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    It's the other guys, not me haha, maybe i could start an Army... I've owned two 110 conversions and several Graphics and Technikas, they are all good fun. For the money it is hard to beat a Graphic but I am sure one of the better 110s is great. I think upgrading the nice lens on them is silly and you are right that a Graflock back is good too.

    But... I don't want to shoot 4x5 handheld unless it can be fast and bright out. I think a good medium format rangefinder or even Corran's D800 is more capable and versatile when it comes down to getting quality pictures. Playing with handheld 4x5 is more for fun and novelty... which is valid too.

  8. #98

    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Frank, my "other" 4x5 is a Speed Graphic (stripped completely) with a reversed front standard which I would like to upgrade someday but I find it it fine for most things. Most movements are vastly overrated unless you want to shoot architecture. When I want to use a tripod for a long exposure I pull that out. I generally shoot a lowly (to the folks here) Leica but I feel if I am going to go through the bother of a tripod I might as well get a big neg for the trouble.

    Although I have never shot a gun in my life I use the sniper method to do longish exposures handheld. I have always found it to work great. I close my eyes too which helps, I don't know why.

  9. #99
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    I think a good medium format rangefinder or even Corran's D800 is more capable and versatile when it comes down to getting quality pictures. Playing with handheld 4x5 is more for fun and novelty... which is valid too.
    Now you've boiled it down to the real difference, capability and novelty.

    However, as someone who has recently come into the fold shooting full-frame digital, do you think that you get the same "feel" to the images from your D700 as from, say, Portra 400 in 135?

    I can honestly say I can spot your digital images vs. film from a mile away, in the small-format thread. It's not even subtle. But, maybe that's just those snaps, and that wouldn't hold true if you processed it differently. Of course, if you've got to spend all that time to emulate film...well...why not shoot film eh?

    This is best-case scenario, FF digital vs. 135. A big 4x5 negative vs. my D800? Yeah, I'll give you that in simple technical quality they may be close, but the film still looks miles away different (and in my opinion, better) than the digital capture. Aesthetically.
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  10. #100
    Ron Miller
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    Re: What is so great about a converted Polaroid camera?

    Being soneone that has a Rassle sitting for the past 2 years unused, I would have to agree with what Frank said. Sad but true.

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