DIY Thrifting: Polaroid Cameras

Dear readers,

Looking for the perfect graduation gift? Victoria from Second Wind Cabin shares a quick tutorial on how to find the perfect Polaroid camera and what you should look for before purchasing one.  This also makes for a great birthday or holiday gift. Learn about Victoria’s thrifting adventures at Second Wind Cabin, including her Maine Tour de Thrift 2012!

DIY Graduation Gifts: Polaroid Cameras

If you’re looking for a creative, unique gift for a grad or anyone else why not check out your local Goodwill store?

For graduates, a fun alternative to giving a new camera is to buy a cool vintage Polaroid to give instead. It’s easy to find these camera’s in thrift stores and by following a few quick tips you can put together a really unique vintage style present that will definitely be a big hit!

First, a little info about what’s going on with Polaroid cameras and film. Polaroid officially ended production of it’s cameras in 2007 and film in 2009. Since then there has been a concerted effort by many people to keep instant photography from becoming extinct.  While Polaroid is being re-organized, the film is still available from Fuji Film and The Impossible Project.

Polaroid cameras are making a come back and there are a lot of great website resources and how-to videos on YouTube. These videos show you how to check out a camera before buying, how to load film and retro-fitting new battery packs. Just search YouTube or Google and you’ll find some helpful resources.  Do a little research before you start your shopping and find out which model will work best for you.

Tip 1. Choosing the camera

There are many models of Polaroid cameras available at second hand shops.

If you want to give a camera that someone can use, consider the cost and accessibility of film, batteries and flash bulbs (if needed).

Some of the most common models found in thrift stores are:

  • Series 100, 200, 300, 400 (expandable bellows)
  • 600 series (plastic body)
  • Color Pack series (rigid bellows)

Visit these online resources to understand the different models of Polaroid cameras


Tip 2
. Checking the camera

First check the camera you are thinking of buying for obvious signs of damage to the body, bellows or scratches on the lens.

• Test the Shutter button
To test a 600 series camera you will need an empty film pack inside the camera in order to hear the shutter and film pack noise, some cameras will still have the empty cartridge inside so when you click the shutter it will sound like it is taking a picture.

To test an older 100 – 400 series camera you will need to have a charged battery in the camera. If the battery is still good, then you can cover the light sensor (small hole on front next to lens) with your finger and click the shutter button, listen for a click noise. After you hear the click remove your finger from the light sensor and listen for the second click of the shutter. If you hear two clicks you know it is working. If the battery is dead or there isn’t one you might still want to buy the camera as they are usually affordable ($5.00 – $8.00).

• Check Battery
Check the battery compartment and clean it if necessary. If the battery compartment is very dirty or has a lot of corrosion in it you may want to pass on the camera and look for another.

If the battery is no good you can either order a new one or if you are handy or know someone who is you can buy battery conversion packs to modify the type of battery used in the camera.

Refer to the battery chart at instantoptions.com to find out which battery your camera will use. There are good prices for batteries online, but if you live near a camera shop they may be able to help you also.

Tip 3. Buying Film

Fuji film is available in two types FP-100c (color) and FP-3000b (black and white). Amazon sells it for around $6.95 per pack, but do a search you may find some other deals elsewhere. Remember the new film comes in 8 shots per pack not 10 like the original film.

The Fuji Film can be used in the following models of Polaroid cameras:

  • Polaroid 100-400 series
  • Polaroid 600 series
  • Polaroid 1SX-70

The Impossible Project film is used with sx-70, series 600 and 100 type cameras. Though it is pricey (around $24.00 for an 8 pack of film), it is very good film and helps fund the effort to revitalize instant photography. As part of that effort, the Impossible Project has teamed up with Urban Outfitters to sell Polaroid cameras and film for $140-$180.

With a little bit of research and effort and at a fraction of the cost you can put together a hip gift and be part of the instant photography movement!

Tip 4. Finishing touches

If your camera doesn’t have a manual consider printing out a manual from the web to include as part of your gift. Another added touch would be to find a cool camera bag or case to package everything into. And if you really get into it – use an old Polaroid print ad to craft a hand made card!

Have fun – and happy thrifting and gift giving!

Polaroid Resources:

 

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