Polaroid Instant Photography - The 1969 Colorpack II

A couple of months ago I sent Film Photography Podcast host Michael Raso a question. I was confused about the different films available for instant cameras. I understood the Integral Instant Films - like Polaroid 600 / SX-70 and the Fujifilm Instax but I couldn't grasp what Michael was using when he mentioned Pack Film, and "Crack and Peel" materials.

Michael replied to my email in a most generous way - he was going to send me a Polaroid Colorpack II camera, complete with some film, all the way from America, so I could try out the Pack Film Experience. I was amazed to say the least, and I couldn't wait to get started!

A package arrived a few days later, and I feverishly opened it up, and I couldn't believe what was inside:

A Visitor From America...

 

Michael had sent me a Polaroid Colorpack II loaded with black and white film, a spare pack of colour film, a couple of packs of flash-cubes, instructions and the case. Brilliant!

The first mystery had been explained. Fujifilm still make the film that goes into cameras like the Polaroid Colorpack II. They do the FP-100C color film , and the FP-3000B black and white film. This is called "pack film" or "crack and peel" film. Instead of being in one piece, like SX-70 or 600 film, these films consist of two parts, which are separated after exposure, leaving a print and a negative.

Portsmouth Harbour

 

The Polaroid Colorpack II isn't difficult to use, but it's no point and shoot! Focusing is done by estimating the distance to your subject, then you turn the lens to the correct setting. Turn a dial on the front of the camera to lighten or darken the image, compose, then press the shutter release.

You then pull the film out of the camera, and wait the set amounts for the film to process, which is usually about 30 seconds. Then you peel apart the film, and you get your print. You can then use the backing paper to do a Polaroid Transfer—just press it against a piece of paper and you get an interesting looking image. Two photos for the price of one!

Polaroid Colorpack II Camera

 

Shooting photographs with this type of camera is a real joy. It has all the analogue experience of using a film camera - zone focussing, with a limited number of shots, but with the extra organic twist of pulling the film out of the camera and peeling it apart. It likes no other photography I've done, and I love it!

If you want to have a go with a Colorpack II, make sure any models you buy have a clean battery compartment, and the rollers look like they're in reasonable condition. You can buy the film online easily, and cheap enough if you look around on a site like e-bay.com.

I hope this short post and video have inspired you to have a go at pack-film photography, and bring these great old Polaroid Cameras back to life!

Cheers, Rob.

 

Rob Nunn is a Film Photography Podcast listener, contributor and host of his own SCL Photo Podcast and blog. Visit him at http://www.robnunnphoto.com/

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Comments

Chazzy's picture
Thanks Rob! Nice job.
rybaczewski@ameritech.net's picture
This was my first Polaroid Camera - in 1970. It was a Christmas present from my parents. Hundreds of packs of film have gone through it and except for all of 2 shots, all of them came out of the camera with am image you could view (composition was another matter). The 2 that failed were by operator error - forgetting to switch the film speed selector. This is a great camera and the only thing I always wished for was an electronic flash for this thing, as the flash cubes are pricey. I still use this camera and NOTHING has ever gone wrong with it.
Anonymous's picture
Hi! Where can I purchase those flash cubes shown in the photo? Do I need to find vintage ones or are there some still made that will work? Thanks so much!
Michael Raso's picture

Flash Cubes - Right here in the FPP STore On-Line:

http://filmphotographyproject.com/store/flashes/flash-cubes

Ella Rae's picture
Hello! I just got this camera at a flee market and my friend who is a photographer was helping me load it and such, and after we put the film in and the batteries, the pictures came out white. We think the batteries might be dead, but will changing them ruin the film? Also, I don't have flashcubes. Are they 100% necessary for taking outside photos when the sun is out? Thanks so much! I made some silly mistakes but I am just learning.
Michael Raso's picture

Oh, dear! Please scroll up the page and watch the two video. It'll cover everything. Yup, The Colorpack needs batteries.

Always test your shutter before putting in film

Take two black garbage bags...In a darkroom (no light whatsoever), e=remove your film. Put it in the black bag. Put the bag in a light tight box and put it in a drawer or fridge. New test and get your camera up to speed. Then re-insert your film. You will have exposed the first shot but the rest should be good!

Happy shooting!

The Polaroid Colorpack II makes GREAT PICTURES! If your camera is not fixable, get another!

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