Help! My Polaroid Automatic Land Camera is not working!

 

April-Lea Hutchinson's Polaroid Automatic 420 Land Camera

 

Blog by Michael Raso

For the last 6 months I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras. I’ve been blogging , pod casting and making videos about this wonderful series of cameras, so I’m not surprised that I’m now getting e-mails about camera problems. I’d like to share an e-mail exchange with you. Perhaps it’ll help you with your Polaroid Automatic Land Camera!

Hi, I just purchased a Polaroid 420 from the FPP Store. It got here fine, looks great, loaded it up with FP-100c and my first shot came out just fine. Every shot I've tried since then has been coming out black - no image - just a black rectangle. My ISO is set right (75), I'm cocking the shutter, I can hear it go ping when I press the shutter release, the film seems to come out from the machine just fine, I'm letting the negative sit while it develops as directed by Fuji, but when I peal, no image. I haven't tried anything film other than the original ten FP-100c that I loaded initially. Any idea what might be happening?

Many thanks for any advice you might be able to give me.

Peter via e-mail

Michael Raso to Peter:

Peter,

Sounds like the camera shutter isn't getting power or you are not keeping your finger on the shutter when exposing your image.

Firstly, lets test the shutter. (Without film in the camera) shoot in an indoor room. Cock and then press the shutter (keeping your finger on the shutter til it opens and then closes). Do you hear the shutter open, then close. Try in various light situations. Dim, dim light will leave the shutter open. If you swing your camera into a light mid-shot, you'll hear the shutter close.

Still no "click - click"? Might be a power problem.

Carefully open the battery compartment, remove and then return the batteries into their compartment making sure the batteries are making a connection.

Repeat step one. When shooting make sure you keep your finger depressed on the shutter til the camera shutter opens then closes. You will hear two clicks when shooting in dim light. (meaning the shutter is operating)

Please let me know your results!

Best,
Michael Raso
Film Photography Podcast

Peter replied back:

Michael,

Doctor, your diagnosis was excellent. User error. I wasn't holding down the shutter release button long enough. I was hitting it and releasing rather than holding it down. Thank you!

Peter

 

April-Lea Hutchinson's Polaroid Automatic 420 Land CameraFPP Episode Episode 36 - June 1, 2011 features a spotlight on the Polaroid Automatic 420.

Purchase your own Polaroid 420 Camera at the FPP Store!

 

Comments

brian m's picture
Another method of checking the shutter on Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras: With no film in the camera, open the back and point the camera toward a window or a light. Cock the shutter, look through the lens from the back of the camera, then press the shutter release button. You should see light through the lens momentarily as the shutter opens and closes. If you don't see light the battery may be dead. (On these cameras the shutter won't work without a good battery, but it can sound like it's working.) You can do a very basic test of the light sensor function, too. Do as above but partially cover the light sensor with your finger. (The light sensor is the small round window next to the lens.) The shutter should stay open longer than when the light sensor is not covered.
Sheepie's picture

Hi their, I just bought the Button land camera, and put the film in it, When I shut it, it made a mechanical noise, but nothing else happened and when I press the button to take a picture nothing is happening at all. Would really appreciate your advise as i can't find much on the internet to help , Thank you

Alex's picture
Hello there, I was curious is there a way i can hook up a tripod socket on my Polaroid 340? It doesnt have one so I was wondering if theres a way to hook one up somehow? thank you Kindly, Alex
Michael Raso's picture

Hi Alex. You'd have to do a "mod" and drill a socket yourself (or perhaps a machine shop could do it). A few models have a Tripod Socket (The 100, 101. 250 to name a few)

Michael Raso's picture

Regarding THE BUTTON Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera

The Button, The Time Zero One Step and the original white "rainbow" One Step are all similarly designed. You pop a pack of SX-70 film in, close the door and the "black card" pops out the front. You're now ready to take your first picture.

Polaroid Time Zero One Step SX-70 camera

Of the many cameras One Step SX-70 cameras that I've tested, five out of ten will have motors that have gone bad over time. Camera sounds fine but will not eject any images. I have done lots of web research but have come up short on a repair solution.

Anonymous's picture
Does time zero one step land camera require batteries?
Mark's picture

I also just purchased a Polaroid 420 for $5! I did the battery mod and loaded up some fuji film and took a few pics around the house. With poor lighting the pics came out pretty dark.  I took a decent pic outside with it being pretty overcast.  Today was bright and sunny out so I tried some outdoor shots. I got nothing! Just the single click. I tried in in the house and it worked fine.  So whats up? 

My outside, overcast pic...

http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s720x720/421431_2910737886656_1206893872_32347349_1410562992_n.jpg

Michael Raso's picture

Check your wiring. Sounds like camera is no longer getting power.

Mark's picture
It is getting power, I used a AAA 2 battery holder and soldered the wires. I wonder if the light sensor is malfunctioning? It works inside fine, but pics turn out dark, I go outside and only one click, go inside and it takes a pic. I just tried holding my finger of the sensor and it took a pic that turned out almost pure white.
Jim's picture
I'm using a Polaroid 104, and have been using Fuji Fp-100B and C to get some great shots in the past. but a few weeks a go the camera started giving me just a white pic, no image just nothing but white. how do i fix this? it happens regardless if where the exposure dial is, or if teh slider on top of the lenes is at color or B &W. any suggestions?
Michael Raso's picture

I think (Mark) that you may have to turn your darken/lighten one or two clicks to lighten instead of holding your finger on the electric eye (which completely overexposed your image.

Jim, look through the lens and make sure the COLOR - BW slider is working. Also, without film, check your shutter.

Kjetil G's picture
Hi! I just purchased a 210 camera from you guys, and I've been shooting some really great pics both with the 100c and 3000b film! However, the shutter stopped responding yesterday! I thought it was maybe the battery, and changed it. But, it still does not respond at all. Nothing happens actually. No click or anything. Any idea what might be the problem?? All the best, -Kjetil G
Michael Raso's picture

Could be quite a few things. Try to narrow it down. When you cock the shutter and then shoot, does the shutter release at all? The more details, the better.

Kjetil G's picture
No, unfortunately the shutter doesn't release at all!
Kjetil G's picture
Hi again! Have you any other suggestions what the problem might be? There's a film inside with 4 pictures left. The shutter is locked in down position, and the battery is brand new. I'm just eager to shoot some more film here!! Hehe... All the best, Kjetil G
HeatherB's picture
Hi, I am having the same issue with my Land Sea 420, the shutter works fine (clicks twice) without film, but only clicks once with film. I also had the hardest time with my pack of film, could not easily remove the first four prints, but this should not have affected the shutter? All my images thus far have been black :(
HeatherB's picture
My shutter does release, but just the one click.
Michael Raso's picture

Hi Kjetil G, Sounds like a problem with the shutter release cable. I have yet to fix such a problem. Please search "The Google" and see if you can find any threads with a solution.

Hi Heather, Sounds like your camera isn't getting power. Check the terminals on your battery. Any green corrosion? If you can, remove your film in a darkroom and put the film is a light tight black bag. This way you won't waste any shots while troubleshooting.

Kjetil G's picture
Thanks Michael, It was the shutter cable. When I moved it back and forth, up and down, I was able to release the shutter and take pictures. But it is not ideal of course. I know a guy in a vintage camera store that might be able to fix it. Otherwise I guess I'll have to get myself a new camera. Thanks again. Kjetil G
Kjetil G's picture
Hi (once) again! Just wanted to say that I fixed the problem myself! And it really wasn´t that complicated. It seems that my shutter cable got bent out of shape when I unfolded the bellow. Probably because that little black tape that attaches the cable to the bellow loosened! I gentle, but firmly tried to bend the cable back to the "original" shape, and it worked. The shutter works just fine now. I even put on a new piece of tape, so that the cable doesn´t get stuck stuck when I fold back the bellow.
HeatherB's picture
I was able to take the film out and put it in a black bag, check the shutter (which did not work at first, but after covering the light sensor a couple of times, it did), replaced the battery...and lo and behold I have taken 2 great pictures! Let the fun begin :)
Shutter K's picture
I have a Minute Maker and it takes great shots. Unfortunately, it captures part of what I believe to be the shutter at the bottom of the print and regardless of settings. Its a black and nearly universally consistent shape. Any thoughts?
Nick's picture
It sounds like the cloth on the inside of your bellows has separated, what most people call "bellows sag". See this thread for info and pictures: http://www.flickr.com/groups/landcamera/discuss/72157629809260601/
Charls's picture
Hi Michael! I just bought a Polaroid 104 and did the mod for installing a 3v battery. I tried to check whether the shutter works, but so far it's just just giving me 1 click. Will there be any way to know whether my problem is just because of the mod or the mechanisms inside?
Michael Raso's picture

1-Click - camera not getting power. Check your wiring. Always check your shutter before loading film.

Here's the vid -http://youtu.be/OFD382IXv3A

Anonymous's picture
Hi, a apologize for putting a probably stupid question but it's been AGES I haven't shot Polaroid - will a 104 camera take any of the new "Impossible" films from the Netherlands? Thank you.... Castro
Michael Raso's picture

All of the Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras take Fujifilm FP-100c (color) or FP-3000b (BW). They'll also take any expired Polaroid 100 film (avail in the FPP Store - http://filmphotographyproject.com/store/instant-film/polaroid-type-100-p... )

DeAnne's picture
Hello! I have a Polaroid 335 and my shutter isn't working properly as well. It works more like the "bulb" function on DSLRs. It clicks once when I push the shutter button but doesn't click again until I release the shutter button. I got some good shots doing this but I'd rather not play the guessing game. Any tips or advice? Many Thanks!
Lara's picture
Just wanted to pop on and and say Thank You! After nine black exposures I finally have an image! I had a small amount of corrosion from an old battery, which I cleaned with vinegar. Then I happened to have a CR123A battery sitting around, so I taped the contacts to the battery and off we went! At first the connection wasn't that great and I would see the shutter open, but only one quick click. I persevered and eventually got the two clicks after adjusting the battery contacts. This is a great site!
Michael Raso's picture

Hi Lara,

Very happy to hear that your camera is now working! Keep an eye on those contacts as they may become loose if you are using tape to hold everything together. Happy shooting!

brittney's picture
hi I brought a polaroid land camera from ebay and when i put film in it it spat out the black card and now will not take any photos. Why is it not working and what can I do to fix it? thanks :)
Michael Raso's picture

98% of all Automatic Land cameras bought on e-bay do not work. The sellers have misconceptions that the shutter is working because when they test it they hear a click.

The Polaroid Automatic Land Camera must have battery power in order for the shutter to open and then close (two clicks). Scroll up and see the video.)

Check your battery compartment - corroded? Old Battery? Both?

Anonymous's picture
I have a poloraid model 100 landcamera and I tried the test to see it works by covering the little and pressing the shutter. I hear 2 click reguardless if it covered or not. Does this mean my camera is not working and if it is not what is probably wrong with the camera
Michael Raso's picture

Open the camera back. Look through the back (through the lens) as you click the shutter. Can you see the lens open and close. Best to try this is a fairly dim environment so you can see it open and close.

alex corona's picture
Hey Mike had a quick question, I hear you can bend a tab on the camera to compensate when the rangefinder is out of tune. Can you tell me which one? or better yet send me a picture with it circled? I got a 330 recently and it is back focusing quite a bit, it shows up in both my prints and if I use the ground glass technique the rangefinder and the film plane don't match up. The 330 had the non removable rangefinder and I can't find any adjustment on it. So unfortunately I can't use FP100C for the meantime, 3000B is great because it uses F44 so no issue there. Thanks for any help!
mdalzell's picture

Unfortunately there's no easy way to do this... but it's possible. Before you go to all the trouble make sure the focus problems are not caused by bent struts or some other visible damage. There are rangefinder adjustment screws under the cover on the viewfinder. The only other thing you'll need is some infinity to calibrate to. Tape a piece of frosted tape (scotch tape or cellotape or whatever you call it where you live) across the film rails exactly where the film would normally lay. For a pack camera, best thing to do is cut the back out of a used film pack and tape up the inside front edge. Then take it outside and focus on something bright and far away... full moon is good if you have one of those in your town. It'll be easier to focus on if you have a loupe of some kind.

Mark.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/metropolismusic/9328401528/

WA's picture
Hello there! I have a polaroid camera xs- 70 the onestep (white rainbow) camera. When I received the camera I insert my first film and I started to take some photos, it worked so good. After several shoots, I dropped the camera by mistake and the camera ejected the last two photos in the film. The first film was ejected completely, while the second one stacked in the roller and the ejecting sound didn't stop so I pulled the photo myself. Then I inserted a new film and I tried it, but nothing happened, the black slide didn't came out of the camera, and when I click on the red button nothing comes out of the camera not even a sound. Do you think that the problem is from some parts on the camera? or it could be from the battery of the new film? What do u advice me to do? I'm looking forward to hearing from u as soon as possible. Regards,
Anonymous's picture
I have a Polaroid 104 and have disassembled the viewfinder and cannot get it back together. Could you guide me in assembling it.? Thank you in advance Janice
Rei's picture
Hello, I recently purchased a Polaroid 240 Land Camera. We converted the batteries to hold 3 AAAs...we even tested the voltage and it said that there was a connection and it was producing 4.5 volts. Tested the shutter...one click. Nothing else. Tried it several times, did it in the light, in the dark, covered the light sensor then uncovered it and nothing. The shutter never "opens" I guess you would say. I watched a video and it showed that there was supposed to be a moment where the shutter was open and you would be able to see through it, and then it would close, but it just goes straight to closing. Sorry if I didn't explain all that well. First non digital camera purchase.
steve scovel's picture

All metal body Polaroids have a "Shutter interlock switch" between the battery and the shutter.  If this isn't making or has become corroded it will keep your camera from working.  Check item C on page 15 of the service manual, it explains it well:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/51423135/Repair-Manual-100-200-300-Series-Auto...

You can clean the contacts with a piece of sandpaper or a small file.  Sometimes the switch is just faulty in which case it is best to simply connect your battery directly to the shutter wire.  

John Graham's picture
I obtained a Polaroid Land Camera 250, The battery is working. The shutter appears to be working. I've observed the shutter opening and shutting in different lighting as you would expect with a healthy time between clicks. I've opened it up and looked at the shutter working and saw it opening. One of the only things I cant seem to do is cover the electric eye and stop it from double clicking. It always takes about a second to double click.(note tho when in use it can happily take more than that in low light and vice versa double click quick in sun light) I am keeping my finger on the shutter button and not depressing till well after the second click. rollers are clean, everything looks in order inside. I am still getting black exposures. at a lost, any help or directions to look at it much appreciated!
Dave Dalby's picture
I have recently purchased a Polaroid 1000 land camera. I've just shot my first few frames with the camera & they are completely black. Is this because the shutter has failed? Can any1 tell me how I can fix this problem? Thanks. Dave
Michael Raso's picture

Yes, scroll on up and read the threads and view the Test Your Shutter video.

David's picture
My newly inherited Polaroid 104 camera's shutter is behaving oddly. With a new Exell A24px/532 3 volt battery in place, the shutter stays open until my finger lets go. Leading me to wonder if its getting any power. But when the battery is removed, the shutter doesn't seem to stay open at all when the trigger is pressed. Is the camera getting power? If it is, why doesn't the shutter close? Is the meter broken? Not sure what to do now. Thanks. -David
steve scovel's picture

Old question?  It appears your photocell has failed.  The shutter only opens when there is a battery.  When the photocell has passed sufficient current the shutter closes, only yours doesn't.  Time to look for another camera.  

Jim Austin's picture

HI MIKE and all !!

with FPP store FP100c film. . . I am pleased to report, my Polaroid 180 shutter is working smoothly on the X setting.

Killed one pack of Fuji FP 100c, training my habits on the camera, but all well now. 

To push the cameras, I'm trying some long exposures at f/90 and some short exposure times at f/4.5.

 

:) Thanks

Jim

 

Nellie C.'s picture
Hi, I bought a 600 Series Land Camera today and it seems to be in great condition, but whenever I snap a picture it doesn't spit the photo out. I put an unopened pack of film in there. I'm not sure what's going on. Any ideas?
Anonymous's picture
Hi there, it sounds like that the motor in your 600 might be busted. Did it spit out the dark slide when you first put your film in? Also, is it impossible film or expired polaroid film?
toondasilva's picture
Hello dears, I've a 360 Land (no flash) and after testing one pack of FP-100C and one pack of FP 3000B , I've noticed that all the picture came out with a black/dark grey mark on the bottom. The mark is like the one you get when you put your lens hood and are shooting with pop up flash on your 35mm...you know what I mean, this sunset shaped mark at the bottom of your pictures !? well , not sure if it comes from me, maybe I'm not pulling the film out properly, but looking at the regularity of the mark it looks like more mechanical issue, shutter not opening completely maybe ? Any idea what it can be and how I can fix it ? many thanks in advance and kind regards from rainy and cold Luxembourg Toon
Brian polaroid's picture
I just bought a Polaroid 420 on ebay said to be in "excellent condition" however even with the battery out, after cocking the #3 shutter cock and pushing the #2 shutter button, I do not even get 1-click (no sound). The only way to trip the shutter is to lift up on the #3 shutter cock. I tried adjusting the shutter cable but it appears fine. So it appears my (#2 button) shutter mechanism is broken!?!

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