Steven Brokaw Photography

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Polaroid 104 fully opened & ready to go!
Continuing my journey with film cameras I’ve purchased let’s talk about my Polaroid 104.  I bought this camera because I had previously bought two Polaroid “Land” cameras (a Colorpack II, and a Colorpack III) at Goodwill and love them.  I wanted to get a more “old school” Land camera, one with bellows.  I found a seller on eBay listing a Polaroid 100, 104 & a 320 in a lot.  I jumped and bought all 3 paying less than $25 all in.

All 3 Polaroids appeared to work, but none had batteries.  This type of camera requires a battery to fire the shutter.  Yikes, the battery type is not easily found and I don’t think manufactured any longer.  I researched online about buying an equivalent battery or mod-up the battery compartment to accept AAA batteries.  For the 104 I decided to go the mod route as the leads were intact and the compartment clean of corrosion.

Closed with a self contained cover

Cover off, but bellows not yet expanded

Camera fully opened from the top
 The main feature of the camera is that it uses Polaroid 100 series film.  The film is also called “pack” film (instamatic) which is surprisingly still made.  Fujifilm manufactures the film and it’s readily available for about $14 per pack (10 shots).  Available in color 75 ASA (film equivalent to ISO) & B&W 3000 ASA. The cool thing about this film (unlike Polaroid film which is ejected from the front of the camera), this that it’s “pulled” from the side of the camera.  When developed you peel the film apart revealing the image.  Very retro!
 
Key specs of the 104 is that it’s lightweight, all-plastic, has folding bellows, automatic exposure through a Polaroid "electric eye", and it’s a quasi-rangefinder.  It’s focused by moving the bellows in and out slightly by moving the focusing knobs attached to the bellow struts back and forth.  There are focusing markers in the viewfinder, but I haven’t figured them out yet.

To get the camera going I cleaned it up, and went to my local Radio Shack to buy a AAA battery holder with wires.  I clipped out (with big fingernail clippers) the bracket that held the existing battery, and wired the holder into the existing battery leads.  I then added 2 AAA batteries to get the desired 3 volts, and jammed (literally) the holder back into the compartment.  I armed the shutter, did a test shutter release, and “click”, “click”.  The needed double click that told me the electric eye (light meter) was working.  Success!
 
DIY battery mod
I loaded a package of Fujifilm FP-100C and took a couple of test shots.  The first was out of focus on one of my cats (need to work on the focus) and one outside which came out fine.  I’m good to go.
 
Inside, got to figure out the focusing technique
Getting the hang of how to focus for a maximum DOF
Bottomline, a fun, retro camera that can be picked up easily online or at flea markets.  Most you buy won’t have batteries, but you can buy them online (expensive around $20, so do research first), or mod-up a battery yourself.  Film can be purchased at most camera stores or online camera stores.  Just remember if you buy a Land camera make sure the battery compartment is free from corrosion.  Have fun, I know I will.

Walking Dead – Broad Ripple Style

Nikon D600 - "Say Hello To My Little Friend"

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