It’s a great feeling when you get a camera back to work even though you thought it was already unusable because its particular type of film is no longer in production. Here’s how you can do it with a Polaroid camera from the 80-series.
A few years back I came across a Polaroid camera at a flea market. I had lusted after one of those for years, so I was pretty happy with my find: only €5 and still in the original box! My happiness faded when I found out that my camera was one of the 80-series, for which film was no longer being made. So much for my Polaroid.
But long live the internet, and Instructables in particular, because a while back I came across an excellent tutorial on how to convert my Polaroid camera to take Fuji FP-100 film. All credits go to Instructables user Nano_Burger of course; but for your convenience, I’ll give my own personal account of the technique right here.
You’ll need a Colorpack 80 Polaroid camera, a packet of Fuji FP-100 film (Fuji FP 3000 will work as well), a pair of pliers, a metal ruler, and a sharp utility knife. Some super glue may come in handy if you break off too much of your camera (I didn’t need it, but you never know).
If you open the back of the camera and compare it to your packet of film, you’ll notice the film is a bit too long. There’s a bit of plastic in the way inside the camera. Locate the bit with the white letters where it says you´ll need to change the batteries now and then.
This is glued inside the camera, and if you grab it with the pliers and wiggle it for a bit, it will come off. It’s always scary to break stuff off a camera; but if you don’t take this risk, your camera will only continue to gather dust on a shelf.
Once that first bit has come off, you’ll see some more ridges in the camera. These will have to go as well. If the plastic has become brittle over the years, they will snap off easily enough if you grab them with the pliers. Otherwise, you may have to wriggle and pull a bit more. It took me a bit off effort, but in the end, most of it came off.
You’re done with the camera now. If you try to insert the film, you’ll notice it still won’t fit. So now we’re going to cut off a bit off the film cassette. It’s a good thing this is made of plastic these days (as opposed to the metal of yore). Look at the front of the cassette (with the paper bits sticking out) and you’ll see a kind of rectangle. Use this as a guide, and use the knife and ruler to score a line along the top of the rectangle over the full width of the film cassette (don’t forget the sides.) Using the pliers once again, snap off the top bit. Use the knife to shave off any excess bits off the cassette and camera if needed.
If all is well, your film should now fit in the camera. Yay! Snap the camera closed. It looks as if the paper is stuck between the camera, but that’s normal. Close the metal bracket, and firmly pull on the black paper until it comes out. You’ll see a white tab appear.
Now you’re ready to shoot. Shoot a picture (or two, if you want a double exposure), pull at the white tab, and see your first picture appear. Leave the paper for a few minutes (there’s an exposure table printed on the paper for the exact time) and pull it off. Marvel at your picture.
PS. you’ll notice a narrow strip of unexposed film on your picture. The original 80-film was square, and the Fuji FP-100 is rectangular and bigger. This means the film is a bit too big to be completely exposed. A small price to pay for a camera dragged from the clutches of obscurity back into life.