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Cambo Miniportrait 201

The Cambo Miniportrait 201 is a twin-lens passport camera for instant film that can utilize multiple exposures.

This is one of my favourite but most awkward to use Polaroid cameras, the Cambo 201:

Cambo is famous for their large format camera systems, but this is one of their smaller instant film capable products. They made a few variations of this camera, the most well-known of which is the 401 (Model 40), a quad-lens camera. The 201 has only two lenses, but like the 401 it has a good variety of controls. These cameras were joint products of Polaroid and Cambo engineering and were mainly used for passport photographs.

Features of the 201 include: three shutter speeds (1/100, 1/50, B), five apertures (8, 11, 16, 22, 32), a tripod socket, two cold shoes, a flash-sync socket, and a detachable back for quickly switching between different film packs (I wonder if I can adapt a roll-film back for it…). The 201 is designed for photographs on type-100 film (still made by Fuji).

Each lens is a Cambonar 125mm f8 that focuses to approximately 4ft. One of the interesting things about this camera is the central dial which allows the user to specify which lens is active: top only, base only, or both at once. It also takes multiple exposures, like these ones on ID-UV film:

The downsides: it’s quite a heavy camera and weighs about a kilogram. Most of the body is metal but, bewilderingly, the handle is made of plastic and doesn’t seem to be very secure in comparison. The viewfinder does have frame guidelines but isn’t very reliable.

The shutter can only be tripped by using a cable release (one can be stored out of the way inside the handle).

Despite these problems, I enjoy the creative freedom offered by this camera as most instant cameras (excluding instant large format and Frankencameras) don’t offer this level of control.

written by megalithicmatt

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