Jul 26, 2013

It ALL Started Here

Let me tell you about a story about a little girl’s fascination.  “What fascination?” you ask.  My fascination with cameras and photography. 

As far back as I can remember I’ve always been intrigued and interested in photography.  When my Dad was in the military, he bought a Polaroid 210 Land Camera.  When I was around seven or eight years old, it was that very camera I’d “steal” when my parents were out of the house.  I’d take a couple of photographs and then put the camera back.  (Oh how I wish I still had some of those photographs)  Since my parents didn’t use the camera very often, they never noticed one or two missing.  At least, they never let on if they did.

Here’s my first camera:

Technically, it wasn’t “mine” but it was my first experience with one.  It was manufactured by Polaroid between 1967 and 1969.  Retailing at that time for $49.99, it was the first color-capable Polaroid Land Camera to sell for under $50.  Over 1.5 million of these were sold.  Polaroid flooded the market with land cameras starting with Model 100 and ending with the 450.  Doing so gave Polaroid a strong footing in the photography market at the time.  Not so today.

The Polaroid 210 uses series 100/660-series pack film which is still available through Fujifilm, and The Impossible Project.  The film is approximately 4.25 x 3.5” and comes 10 to a pack.  The battery is still available also.

In order to take a photograph, there’s series of steps to go through. Luckily, the buttons and knobs are marked 1-4 as an aid.  First, the cover has to be opened.  Then a metal latch is pulled so that the bellows can be unfolded in order to put the lens in its proper position.  Then the white shutter lever is pressed down to cock the shutter.  Once the shutter is released, one might expect the film come popping out.  Not exactly.  After the photo is taken, there’s a strip of white paper sticking out on the side of the camera.  It has to be pulled and in doing so, the tab of the film pops out.  That tab needs to be pulled slowly out so the film goes through a set of rollers that squeezes developer over the frame and out the side of the camera.  After waiting a minute or so, it’s peeled apart.  It was/is truly the original Instagram.

I think it was this process that amazed me:  the little gray box, pulling the paper and film out and all of us standing around waiting expectantly for a picture to appear.

More details about this camera:

  The plastic gray front cover is detachable and the camera comes with a black nylon strap.

  Aperture:  f/8, f/42

  Shutterspeed:  1/1200 to 10 seconds

  Built with an imagesizer viewfinder that presents a parallax corrected viewfinder along with an arrow that points to the number of feet the lens is focused to.  The photographer needs to estimate the distance from the subject and focus the camera until the arrow in the viewfinder points to the number of feet.

  Battery:  No. 532 3.0v (PX24)

  Exposure can be controlled somewhat by manually turning the lens between the lighten and darken settings.

  It has a plastic two-element 114mm focal length lens which doesn’t offer crystal clear images but is capable of decent results with a steady hand.

My "Baby" Bro - Circa 1976
Me - 1972
My 9th Birthday - 1977

Me playing Atari - 1985

  It has two speed positions:  75ASA for color film, 3000 for black and white film.

  With the optional flash accessory, it uses M3 flash bulbs.  They can only be used once and need to be changed after each bulb is expended.  There’s an ejection button that pops the flash out.  One has to be very careful, though, because the bulbs are hot right after use.  The flash unit requires one AA battery.  Flash bulbs are no longer manufacturered, but vintage boxes of them can be found online and sometimes at yard sales or swap meets.  I haven't tried, but perhaps camera stores may still have them, but you’d probably have ask for them specifically.

  No tripod socket or timer.

There you have it…. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Polaroid 210 Land Camera.

Several years ago, my Dad gave me that camera he bought before I was even born… The very same camera that whet my passion toward photography.  Writing about it makes me want to buy pack film!



Kaisievic said...

Lovely story, thank you so much for sharing with us. Now we all know you a little bit better.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written. Always welcome a "feel good" story..

Donna in TN

Mouse said...

awwww and you looked cute back then :) and yes get a pack and see what they come out like now ... as you have a before photo ....
loved photography myself and started out on a box brownie ... :) love mouse xxxxxx

Berly said...

Wow, I remember taking pictures with my parents' Polaroid camera. It was amazing the way the pictures developed. Thanks for the walk with you down Memory Lane!

Sue said...

Hi sweetie! Loved this story; we had a Polaroid also back then; I was just thinking about that camera about a week ago. Butch was a photography buff himself; even developed photos in our walk-in closet at our first home. LOL....I have a box of polaroid shots in the closet...lol....mostly of Vicki when she was little. I really enjoyed taking this trip down 'memory lane' with you!!!! Nice photos too; loved looking.

Sue your SM

Lana said...

Trips down memory lane....fun! What a great story! Thanks for sharing!

Vickie said...

Sweet! That is great that you own it now. I think you should get some film for it.

Pam in IL said...

Love your story! Hubby has quite an extensive camera collection that he started when he was about 10 years old. I think has 50-75 cameras, most all of them being very old. He also collects antique radios. I think we have at least 20 antique radios throughout our house.

Thanks for sharing your story & pics.

cucki said...

Lovely story.., thank you so much for sharing with us..
Big hugs
Love cucki x

Melinda said...

This was a great read - Thank you for sharing - and also the great pictures from your childhood.

Anonymous said...

Loved it - learned a little bit of history today.

So sad that many of the companies that produce actual film will/have gone out of business because of the digital age but for those die hard lovers there will always be a love in their hearts for the "good ole days". But you know like everything it's goes in cycles - even though digital seems to be the way of the future I'm betting there will be a resurgence in the old fashioned way


Rhia Reynolds said...

One of my best friends is a camera fanatic. She did the photography for my wedding as my wedding present.
I, myself, am only camera crazy in that I take tons of pictures of my little boy and some of my cats.

Annie said...

Good story. I miss the old Polarids with everyone gathered around waiting for the pic to finish developing. Truly marvelous invention for the times.

Shelley said...

Thank you for the photography lesson...I love reading about other people's passions. The trip down memory lane was great.

Anonymous said...

Great story Meari, I really enjoyed it!

Jennifer M

Shelleen said...

Thanks for the story. I had a kodak, since my dad worked there. Took pictures all the time and took Photography in high school. Lots of photos when I was younger.

Anonymous said...

I think your passion for photography is wonderful. What better way to preserve our past but through pictures. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Betty in AZ (ILCS)

SueH said...

Crikey, I’ve not seen one of those for a long time.!

I can remember when I was young my big brother had one, not the same model though.

With his one, when you pulled out the picture after taking the photo, you had to sandwich it between two metal plates and tuck it under your arm to keep it warm while it developed. The colour wasn’t very good on them either, they always seemed to have an Orangey tinge to them.


htimcj said...

Great story. I love to hear how people's passions come about.

Akila said...

Loved reading this story