Polaroid conversions

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by thomas_hardy|1, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. I'm looking for a polaroid conversion (to 4x5) camera. Does anyone have a
    list of builders I may contact to inquire about these cameras?

  2. http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~razzle/
  3. Don't do it!

    They are clunky, inferior designs that will end up costing you more money than you think.

    You can spend your money on much better cameras.
  4. "You can spend your money on much better cameras"

    Any suggestions?
  5. Yes, but first you need to tell us what kinds of photos you want to take. Architecture, field, studio macro, handheld? What kind of budget do you have?

    If you search the archives under (newbie, first large format, newcomer), you will find lots of answers.
  6. Frank, I think that the comment that 'They are clunky, inferior designs that will end up costing you more money than you think' couldn`t be further from the truth.......A well modified Polaroid 110B is an extremely fast, lightweight and very accurate focusing 4x5. Plus they are far cheaper to produce than most alternatives. It`s kinda hard to hold a 4x5 monorail up to your eye and focus using a ground glass at the same time.
  7. Thomas:

    Try this:


    A very good camera at a great price.

    But: "What if? ...no more...".

    Yes, you will be in a Patent Free Zone, with no "reward" on your head, and more importantly, with a perfectly healthy left thumb because ... no more? ... red button!

    "What if?...", no, you will not get bitten by the Panther Gris that lurks around when you put your eye to the viewfinder.

    This camera has a "straight lens" that takes normal style photos, not a modified one with the depth of field behind the photographer and front struts built like cantilever bridges. Razzle is good, no dazzle!

    A handheld 4x5 is the best way to photograph most subjects with a 4x5. These are good overall cameras, not specialty cameras. Each situation requires a special solution, this camera is a very good compromise for most cases. Much better than the Graflex types.

    Unfortunately, my handheld 4x5 model is not for sale.
  8. Dean: I will have to stand by what I said. I love building cameras. But a graflok on the back of a 110b is awkward looking and the Ysarex is only a decent performer.

    Even Diwan calls it a "brick".

    But Mr. Hardy did not say whether he wanted to build or buy. Buying one is real expensive. Buying the parts to build one is now more expensive because everyone wants to do it and the prices have gone up (I just saw a 110b at a camera show last week going for $250 and that did not include the graflok back which can go for $100 in some cases). It is no longer a cheap way to get into LF.

    When you start talking that kind of money, I feel that there are other alternatives besides an expensive, clunky looking camera. And I never said those alternatives have to include a monorail for field use.

    BTW: I like your site.
  9. What I am looking for, or would like to do is a fair question. I would like a handholdable 4x5 or larger. I thought that with digital becoming popular I could get into LF (cheaply) like many are dabbling in MF now.

    So are there good alternatives to conversions and monorails which are light, and adds to spontaneity?

  10. I`d have to agree with you Frank, the Graflok is rather a clunky old outdated piece of kit.....that`s why I built the Razzlok.
    Much smoother, lighter and heaps faster. Trying to get a D/D into a Graflok is like setting a bear trap. Slipping holders into a Razzlok is smooth and quiet.
  11. Handholdable, light and cheap usually do not go together.

    A Crown Graphic will be about as light and cheap as you can get and still be practical. Speed Graphics tend to be a little cheaper because they are heavier.

    The 4x5 Fotoman is handholdable and light, but it is not cheap.

    Many old 9x12 European cameras meet the bill but the film is generally unavailable unless you cut down 4x5 film in total darkness.

    The nice thing is you can buy older decent equipment at decent prices and learn. Then you can re-sell later and upgrade. Avoid collector's items that drive prices up.

    My advice: start with a Crown Graphic with a coated 127mm Ektar lens. Get one with a Graflok back if you can (more expensive), but a spring back will do fine. Sell it after you have learned. Spend your time taking pictures and not building cameras.
  12. <p>I 'convert' the Polaroid 110's to 4x5 for the love of the
    Polaroid 110's, not for the love of 4x5.<p>I have all sorts of 4x5 cameras, and I like my
    Polaroids best.<p> And I've felt that way about them for thirty years.<p>They are
    snapshot cameras, but that being said, they are
    cameras and take excellent pictures.<p>If Polaroid still made the
    roll film, I'd use the cameras as is.
  13. Well Frank.....My all black powder coated, black leather covered 110A converted to a 110B with a Razzlok is a great little 4x5. It sports a coated Rodenstock Geronar 150mm f6.3 that gives pin sharp images at all distances from 3 1/2 feet to infinity due to the modified rangefinder. Although a one off, it only cost me around $400 to build, not counting a couple of days intensive work. It only weighs 3 pounds so I can carry it all day. Even though the Geronar is often overlooked, it is a brilliant little lens that easily allows the camera to fold up. I`ve always found the Crown and Speed Graphics a little outdated, cumbersome and slow in comparison to the Polaroids, plus I`ve never been a great fan of the Kalart rangefinder due to the tiny peephole windows. The big brightline finder of the 110B is fantastic and works well even in low light. The Polaroid cameras of 1960 were extremely robust and well designed, quite apart from the film they used, which I found a little messy. Converting these great metal cameras is a logical step if you want to use modern emulsions with excellent results. Even the original 127mm Ysarex stands up well, unless you want prints over 16x20. Perhaps you should take a closer look.......
  14. Frank:

    I started with a Graflex. Found that I needed three hands to operate it. Yes, the 127mm Ektar is a gem, but the RF is useless, therefore negating eye level focusing. It became worse than a 4x5 field camera. This one is not a brick, it is a suitcase. That is why this model went the way of the dinosaurs.

    Afterwards, I built my plastic 4x5 handheld, which turned out to be a superb photographic device. If the Graflok contraption is eliminated, then the weight is reduced dramatically. If the 110 is trimmed down and carefully put on a diet, it becomes a good camera an very useful one.

    Some people like some models for personal reasons. Myself, I prefer the all-plastic cameras as they are lighter. The 110 has that "retro" aura around it. It is good to see that all these obsolete bodies have been put to good use, same with the useless pack film cameras.

    I have noticed that an urban mith exists out there that every LF newcomer to LF "needs" a camera that will be able to be contorted as a shrunk pretzel. They better read the what and why movements are used. If one is going to do table top photography, then get a rail camera, forget the rest, ample bellows extension and more movements that one can use. Same for architectural and the like.

    For 99.9% of LF photography, the features offered by these cameras are not used, or very seldomly.

    My handheld camera gives me more time to do photography than if using any other camera, that is, for most situations, as I do not have to carry accessories (tripod, shutter release...). Why do Leica users do not demand camera movements? Because that camera is good 99.9% of the time for all purposes. Same with mine, except that it has all the advantages of the large negative.

    And yes, we get all these newbie questions of looking for a panacea for all photographic purposes. Personally, I do not recommend a Graflex for a beginner, as it is an impossible camera to use.

    The Graflex were used with the superpowerful flash, always set at f/8 and all the results look like "deer in the headlights" because of the dazzling effect of the flash, no tonalities and mostly overexposed highlights. This is a very little known fact of the use of the Graphics. The flash was used extensively due to the un-ergonomic design of the camera.

    I still do not understand why eveyone is advised to "get a Graflex". I would say, firt learn how to compose an image that has a valid visual message, instead of steering everyone towards equipment that they would not know how to use.

    The fact is: If a negative that has a good image is produced, the negative is by itself a good image, it will give a meaningful print. Conversely, if a boring image is produced, there is no darkroom or magic bullet that will save the banality of the product.

    Most of the reason for the darkroom artifices and gyrations is an attempt to save a bad image through technical tour-de-force.

    If I were a beginner, I would start by learning how to take good photographs instead of looking for the larger negative to solve all the creative and vision learning process that a beginner has to do.

    "I am a beginner and what camera should I get?"; the answer to this is, get a $7 grocery special and learn how to compose good photographs first. Later on, the LF equipment question answers itself and good results are guaranteed regardless of the equipment used.

    LF is just regular photography. LF has a larger negative, but that it where it ends, the rest is just good 'ole photography.

    ...Not "Graphy", just photography.
  15. Just as a heads up: Both Dean Jones and Noah Schwartz convert Polaroids as a side business. Both of them do wonderful work and have been very helpful on this forum. Dean even has a CD available with a bunch of tips on how to convert a Polaroid to 4x5 yourself. Both of them are good resources.

    Both of them are going to be a little defensive after my initial comments about converting; that is understandable.

    Sorry Dean and Noah, I was just sharing my opinion to a newcomer.

    I agree that the early Polaroids are robust and a marvel to examine; really nice engineering.

    Mr. Hardy: One of the best ways to understand cameras and photography is to build your own camera. If you have the talent, time and tools, I highly recommend this rewarding and aggravating task. You will learn so much as you encounter new problems and overcome them. There are lots of resources on the net, here is one of them:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=147 Heck, I even have a lens and film holders if you are interested.

    On the other hand, if all you want to do is try out large format film and see if it is for you, get a Crown.
  16. Diwan: The rangefinder on my Crown worked great, no problems.

    You did not answer Mr. Hardy's question of what LF camera he could get that was handholdable, cheap, and light. He did not say he wanted to build a camera. You also seemed to assume he was new to photography with your discussion on photography (most of which I agree with).

    My suggestion was a reasonable one for a newcomer. It is not a perfect camera for all purposes (no camera is). But it is decent performer at a decent price. And if he finds out he does not like LF, or he wants to upgrade, he can always sell it readily. Do you have a better suggestion?

    Mr. Hardy: Cheap is a relative term; providing numbers would help.
  17. Frank:

    Sorry, I should have made a new paragraph, so that my entire posting would not seem to be totally addressed to you.

    I see in forums that this same question gets asked repeatedly. Some people find an answer to it, both you and I did, as well as many others in a more or less ingenious way.


    As of today there are several hand holdable 4x5 cameras. There is the Fotoman, which is a true point and shoot, no RF. Then there is the 110B mod with the Graflok back, the 110B with the slimline low profile back, and the one with the Razzle back. There is also mine, which is not a 110 type and has its own back, this one is not available for sale.

    Readily hand-holdable and easily available at a reasonable price, maybe and perhaps a Graflex with top mounted RF, I may say. But I can state that I have a definite problem with its ergonomics.

    The other alternative is to do like Frank R, to find a box and fit an LF lens and some sort of back to accept 4x5, but this already gets you into building your own camera, and you may not desire to go this route.

    -- It seems to me that there should be more models available of handholdable 4x5 cameras. There are some, but the only one maketed and commercially available htat I know is the Fotoman with out an RF and the other Chinese made cameras. The rest are the handmade ones.

    As to reasonability of pricing, some are extremely expensive for what they are, others can be very reasonably obtained.
  18. The speed graphic was designed to be handheld. Millions of images have been shot with them, without any RF focusing problems. Something must be amock with folks cameras if your RF focusing is in error. Its wrong to assume that because one has a screwed up camera that other cameras wont focus. Many news photographers would roll in their graves if they heard statements that a speed graphic cannot be focused with its RF, or used handheld. <BR><BR>Ancient 1950's reason to hack Polaroids is that they were often worth little if used, worth radically less than a working used speed graphic. One might think as these broken, bent hunks as like a old aol disk, a dog turd, a 386 computer with a crash HDA and a 2400bps modem, yesterdays newspaper. Old Polaroids in many pawn shops were just a bunch of worthless crap, like a used leaky faucet, a gummed up old inkjet printer. When Ebay first started the higher end Polaroid cameras were still at low prices, until I noticed a new chap buying them up, and prices sometimes are 10 times higher. <BR><BR>Early conversions were just done because old Polaroids were just a few dollars. Today I could probably buy 10 speed graphics with 127mm ektars for what these higher end speciality Polaroid conversions go for.
  19. Kelly;

    You have made several important points. Yes, millions of photos have been taken with the Graflex cameras. Mine has an accurate RF, the problem is that I cannot see anything out of it, it is the side mounted Kalart. Yes, it is accurate, but faint and it is like looking into a peephole. Graflex provided the sports type viewfinder frame and this is for some reason.

    Maybe some people can handhold these suitcases, maybe most of the people can see through the little RF peephole, we need to have the experience with this type camera and user impressions documented. For all I know, the Graflex came with the super powerful flash, and there may be a reason for it also.

    The higher end Polaroids are just that, pure and genuine junk, and they still are, so are the lower end ones. They need modifications, surgery and adjustment to be reincarnated as something that they never were intended to be. The 110A has a pathetic RF/viewfinder combination. This got improved in the 110B. Otherwise the lenses that these cameras came with were very good.

    I have read somewhere, something like 140 000 of the 110 series were manufactured. There must be lots of them left.

    If someone is a fool enough to pay ten times their value, then so be it. Without extensive work these are nothing more than inefficient bookends, oversize paperweights or perpexling conversation pieces. If this person wants to spend his money on them, it is their choice. Perhaps one day he will learn the actual value of this camera, but the past has shown that it is not the case.

    There are also millions made of the pack cameras, the plastic ones, which are not even welcome in rubbish dumps. These seem to reproduce and multiply ad infinitum. Some of these have very nice RF/Viewfinder combinations that are the envy of the 110's and of the Graflex and many other cameras.

    But, as a teacher of mine once said; invent a new word, then find thirteen dimwits to believe in it, and you will become a philosopher.

    Again my question stands, why is there not any commercial production of a Graflex type camera or a copy of the actual ones that are handmade. To me, there is a need/desire out there for this type of equipment and no one is satisfying this demand, except with ludicrous claims for something that is not and will never be.

    I just finished printing some of my 4x5 negatives from my plastic camera, I am always astonished at the results that I get from it. Hmmm...I have to check my Nikon to see if the batteries have not leaked.
  20. Diwan; the "patch" of an RF often degrades with corrosion, outgassing, or cleaning. The semi-silvered mirror is often degraded, or the tinted window faded. New or rebuilt rangefinders can be focused vary fast. With the "focus spot" rangefinder one can project a beam from the speed graphics windows, and focus on an object in total darkness. Alot of old camera gear is worn and not really what folks used when they were mainstream.
  21. Diwan, who is going to fall off my admirable people list if he keeps being so silly, wrote "Again my question stands, why is there not any commercial production of a Graflex type camera or a copy of the actual ones that are handmade. To me, there is a need/desire out there for this type of equipment and no one is satisfying this demand, except with ludicrous claims for something that is not and will never be."

    Diwan, I just checked B&H's offerings. If you have the money, they'll sell you a new 4x5 Technika. They're a little more expensive than any of the Polaroid conversions I've read about, also a lot heavier, more robust, and capable. And they're a pretty good alternative to, e.g., a Super Graphic.

    Why do you carry on about about how horrible old Kalarts that need new mirrors are? Their mirrors can be replaced. Why don't you carry on about the fact that a Kalart RF can be adjusted for just one lens? They're not cammed.

    Diwan, I'm sorry that no one but you makes what you want at a price you're willing to pay, but this isn't evidence of a problem.

    Everyone else, who cares whether the original poster seems like a damnfool for wanting a "polaroid conversion (to 4x5) camera?" The objectives he's trying to meet are his, the money he might spend is his. We have to accept that he knows what he's trying to accomplish and the alternatives and that what he asked about is best for him. So let's stop telling people who ask for directions to builders, as he did, that they're wrong to want the things.

    Cheers, and a pox on all of you but the OP,

  22. Well. the curmudgeons have spoken.<p>I do these conversions, because I like
    these cameras.<p>I could use my Crown Graphic, my Speed Graphic, my Graflex, my other
    Graflex, my Graphic View, or an Aero Linhof for 4x5, but I use my Polaroid, just the way I
    for thirty years. <p>You don't have to like them. I like them enough for the both of
    us.<p>Format expanding Polaroid 110's to 4x5 gives you an infinite choice of films to use
    with them.<p>And if you haven't tried one of my cameras, with my LowProfile Back,
    interchangeable lenses and a hot shoe, you really can't compare ...
  23. Noah, I'm neutral. A Polaroid-based 4x5 isn't for me, but that doesn't mean I think no one should use one. Each has his own taste and budget too. These cameras are tools. I'm sure that for some users they're the best tools for some purposes. Who could want more than that?

    And a polite grumble to you too,

  24. Mr. Fromm:

    Please, do not drop me off your list, as I promise to cease the silliness.

    What I consider to be quite sad is that I am steadily losing my eyesight. I was advised by a close friend to watch out for the dust specs on my prints---what dust specs?

    I cannot see anything out of my Kalart RF. I can see something clearer out of the Zeiss RF. Replacing the RF mirror will not do the trick for me, as my glasses invariably get in the way.

    I am learning now that handheld ability and modest price are two incompatible things. Perhaps it is the rarity of the instances in which this type of equipment is needed. Conversely, anything desired can be obtained if one is willing to pay the demanded price for it.

    Yes, photography stores still offer top of the line equipment at their price. And yes, people tinker with some other equipment to obtain some other results, as how this results suit everyone, this is left to be decided.

    The only thing that I know is that I am very happy with my camera, of my own making and definitely not for sale, as it is mine, and I have obtained very good results with it, at least that is how they look to me. I only do photography as a hobby and only for myself, not for business nor for glory.
  25. Diwan, that you're losing your sight is really terrible. You must be devastated.

    An impolite question about y'r loss of vision. We all lose our near vision as we age. Is your problem worse than that? I certainly hope not.

    Go on enjoying yourself.


  26. Thanks for all of the suggestions. I will check into the Fotoman (as suggested) and another camera called Gaoersi.

    I still like the idea of the Polaroid conversion, but I think I may be a little late in my decision to buy since the raw materials seem to much more expensive than several months ago.

    If someone has one to sell, or offer to build please email me with the price.

  27. Mr. Fromm: It is age and tired eyesight. Thank you for the encouragement. Thomas: Do you realize that both the Fotoman and the other one are only point and shoot zone focus, no RF on either. For that price, I would demand some focus control, it can be available. ut, not to worry, you have been given enough information here as to where to find a camera that will suit your needs. Please keep us posted of your decision and later on, if you wish, of your results. Best of luck.
  28. Dear Dan, please remove the 'pox' you placed on all of us.........I cannot continue with any more Polaroid conversions until this spell is gone. I dearly love all my Polars, but they are now breaking out in a rash........
  29. Dean, a cold shower should wash it off. If that doesn't work, let me know.


  30. Mr. Bhathal, I had no idea the Fotoman lacked rangefinder control.

    I have seen some photos taken by the polaroids on APUG and a couple of galleries here (which I why I'm interested in acquiring one).

    I only have an enlarger which goes to 6x7cm.

    I should have bought that Durst L1200 a few years ago when I had the opportunity. But, scanning is a good option as you have shown.

    And I'm sure I could get a 4x5 enlarger if I looked hard enough.

    Well, I think I'll be contacting a couple pro builders from this forum in earnest about getting my hands on one of these Polaroids.

  31. What's wrong with this for a "walk-around 4x5"?

    Take a Crown Graphic;

    put in a 90mm/6.8 WA lens;

    lock the bed to Infinity only;

    use ASA 100-160 film;

    set the aperture to f16 - f22, and the shutter to 1/200-1/400;

    install some Pentax 67 neck strap lug studs at the balance points; [optional]

    use a Polaroid/Kodak or Fuji film holder and Readyloads or Polaroid film;

    compose using either the top mounted Graphlex optical viewer, or the action finder wire and swing-up eye-hole; everything from 4 ? feet to Infinity should be in focus - without having to focus!

    And things should be 'sharp', since the shutter speed is high enough to not cause any motion, and there is no 'mirror slap'.

    The thing was built to BE used hand held; the weight is not so heavy that most can't carry it; doing the above, the lens is short enough to suck back into the camera body so that the bed will fold up and down quickly and easily, and it becomes a true "carry around 4x5".

    Surely this is being done now?


    Perry [my next project...]
  32. Over the past six months, I have purchased on ebay, 8 each Polaroid 110A's,900's Using the rangefinder/viewfinder on the 900's to upgrade the 110A's to 110B status...Trying to buy a 4x5 graflok back by itself is expensive on ebay, but I have purchased a number of polaroid backed oscilloscope cameras that have the graflok back, a polaroid film pack back, and a fair usage lens, mostly in the 75/80mm size in Ilex shutters...all this for less than the graflok back by itself, when they show up on ebay.....there I have given away my secret, but I have finished making my purchases, Now I am going into the modification mode. I have yet to purchase the CD from Razzle, where he shows you how to do these conversions.....I will then put them up for sale on Ebay. hang tough God Bless

Share This Page