Polaroid Land 100
In 1963 for the whopping sum of $120ish dollars you could own the “The Most Advanced Camera In the World”…at least according to Polaroid. While the Land 100 didn’t have the cooperation of Zeiss as did the later models, it certainly is a good looking camera and ushered in the era of Polaroid pack films. A three element 114mm f8.8 does a decent job and combined with an ingenious fold away range finder, i’ve grown rather fond of this camera.
We took a 420 series Land camera with us on the set of Siglo to shoot portraits of the high altitude coffee farmers we were privileged enough to spend time with. The camera was perfectly up to the task as many of them had never had their portrait taken sowe could leave a decent size image with them, but I had also read about recovering the negatives afterwards. So I thought hey let’s give it a try!
The process is pretty straightforward:
- Shoot the image and peel apart as normal.
- Take the “goopy” side of the image and remove the paper tail
- Find a piece of glass and tape the negative, “goop” side down, around edges to the glass
- Pour bleach on the back of the negative to remove the dye and reveal the negative.
However as you’ll see below, you mileage may vary! I definitely found that the goop needs to be washed off the front once everything is done and if you ANY (seriously any) bleach under the tape, it’s all over.
Stainless body. Check!
Foldaway design to keep the rangefinder safe.
Check! The best camera in the world. TBD!
Gotta love photography By Numbers
Seriously this thing looks and feels great! But how about the scans?
Scanning the negative presented a challenge in and of itself. I taped them around the edges roughly in the center of my Epson faltbed using painters tape and put it in transparency mode. While we were trekking around jungle we has some trial and error attempting to protect the raw “negatives” from the volcanic dust and grime. At first I tried putting them in an album but quickly found they would stick and tear.What we finally landed on was to take the “goop” side and stick it to the plastic film of the album instead. This mostly kept them from getting too beatup, but as you can see, we still got scratched, dirt and in one case salt water on them.
Negative scan on the left. Original on the right – Uncle and nephew take a breather after dropping off the days harvest.
Negative scan on the left. Original on the right. The purple tint is from the leftover goop. I rewashed this negative in cool water and with some gentle scrubbing it went away.
Negative scan on the left. Original on the right. Rough, real rough.
While the good old Polaroid can do some amazing things, recovering the negatives is completely hit or miss. Fun, but not exactly practical. Here’s a few more successes and many failures below; all scans off of recovered negatives.