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:


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!

Michael Raso
Film Photography Podcast

Peter replied back:


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!



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!



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!?!
manish's picture
hi everybody, i have bought a Polaroid land 180 in good condition, it is a manual camera with no batteries in it, i can see through the lens with opened film door normally (all the time), even without firing the shutter and after cocking the shutter the shutter is not firing. please help.....
Anonymous's picture
I have a Polaroid land 1000 and for the last few shots it's been taking red scale photos. What should I do?
Michael Raso's picture

Re: "have a Polaroid land 1000 and for the last few shots it's been taking red scale photos. What should I do?

You don't mention what film. (Brand new Impossible? Older Impossible? Expired Polaroid?) Sounds like a film issue. I have shots of older Impossible film and have found that the color balance of a few shots were off. Try another pack.

Greg Miller's picture

Sounds like expired Polaroid film to me, or it could be Impossible film that was stored in such a way that one side (the bottom, or battery side) of the pack got really hot a few times and shifted the film. There simply isn't enough "smart stuff" going on inside any of these cameras to affect color on just certain frames, so I would definitely lean towards your film being the culprit. Get your film from a reputable source and be mindful of how you store it, both prior to use and while in the camera, and you should see more consistant results. 


Remember: when shooting Impossible film, always shield your prints!!! 

While the chemistry from Impossible has seen huge advances in the past couple years, light sensitivity after exposure remains an issue and all films require shielding to prevent fogging or color shifts. 

Kathleen's picture
Hi I have a Polaroid 250 and am basically in love. I get great images some times, but occasionally (today) when I pull out the tab for the first shot, more than one tab/then more than one picture comes out (like they are stuck together) which is a waste and those images, obviously, are not right. Am I doing this when I load the film (squeezing or something?).
Michael Raso's picture

Hi Kathleen,

Drat! Once you get the hang of will not have any more problems.

See our video below (for the 104 but the operation is same for all Polaroid Pack Cameras)

Jessica's picture
Hi I have a polaroid automatic 100 that I just bought. The shutter made no sound what so ever so I bought a new battery. Now it makes the double click sound only the film does no eject when I take a picture. Is this because the film is the original film expired in 1980? Or is it broken? Please help!!!!
Michael Raso's picture

YES! That original film is dry and reay to crumble. Buy a new pack of film -

Aleah's picture
Hello! I received two polaroid automatic land cameras for Christmas, a 320, and a 104. I modified and soldered both cameras to take AAA batteries. The shutters in both cameras seem to work well from all the tutorials I've watched, but yet they are shooting all black, all white, or very dark photos. I have gone through two whole packs of film trying to fix the cameras, but yet nothing! I want very badly to be able to use them, so please let me know if you have any idea what may be doing wrong. Thanks so much!
Michael Raso's picture

Black frames, white frames! Watch our video for some tips -

Ben's picture
Hi all. Some help from someone with much more experience than I would be great. I've got the land 104 automatic. Colour film. The images are coming out white. It seems like the rollers arnt pressing down to transfer the images across...? Any advice or help much be great. Ben
Anonymous's picture
Hello, I have recently acquired a Polaroid 100 Land Camera. I replaced the battery and all is OK. My problem is that the shutter opens but will not close. I did all the tests that I saw online. The only way the shutter will close is when the power is disconnected either by closing the camera or removing the battery. I cleaned the blade switch in the battery compartment thinking this was the problem. Is the electromagnet sticking or is the light sensor malfunctioning? I've not seen this issue discussed anywhere on the net. Thanks for any help.
Bruce's picture
Hi! I just picked up a thrift store Polaroid 430. I've ordered a AA battery conversion thingy and some Fuji film. However, I've read elsewhere about the Fuji film issue and the problem the Land cameras cause with the springs pressing against the plastic Fiji film back. Is this a real issue and one that I should fix beforehand? The common solution seems to be to break off the springs on the door to relieve the film pack tension that causes the problem. Seems an extreme fix as this will be irreversible. But, I'll do it if it will eliminate the problem... Suggestions? THANKS!!! Bruce
Anonymous's picture
so totally disappointed yet again. i finally loaded this 350 land camera i bought w/ converted triple a battery pack... when i loaded film, i had battery pack on, film in, focused, and took photo. when i pulled the tab 2 pics came out instead of one & the image was kinda there but a bad bad photo, lol. the 2nd time i tried only one came out like it was supposed to, but all black. now i have tried 7 pics and still all black, inside, outside.. nothing is happening. i'm using color film & set cam to 75 speed. This also happened kinda when i tried to use my 230 land camera, but i was away on vacation. this was worse, each time i went to take the film out, it was jammed & all film connected & came out all stuck together. totally wasted a pack. so both of my land cameras i can't get to work, any suggestion?
Michael Raso's picture

Once you get the hang of it, it'll all be great.

Firstly, make sure the shutter is working before loading the camera ( Video - )

2. Clean your rollers - Sounds like you may have a roller problem

3. Load and shoot - video

It's tricky but with some patience you'll get the hang of it! Good luck!

Jené's picture
I have converted the battery pack on a garage sell version of the 240 land camera. I can hear only one click from the shutter. Is there any other way to check the batteries or shutter with the film loaded in?
hd.wrench's picture
I acquired a Polaroid 250 & the shutter was working at first but quit after trying to figure how to close it until I read on an arm, "push to close". The shutter lever stopped working after that so I tried looking for a solution & one website said to check to see if the shutter cable was kinked which it was. I carefully used my fingers & straightened it out the best I could & it started working again. When closing it, the cable still tries to kink but I straightened it the best I could. If only there were a way I could disconnect it & slide something over the kinked portion like some shrink tubing used in electrical repairs, it might keep it from doing it again.
Simone's picture
Hi Michael, my dad gave me his 40 years old Polaroid 104 for my 40th birthday as a present (what a beautiful present!!!), but after a couple of shots (litterally 2 test shots) it looks like the shutter is not working properly anymore... I did not have to modify the camera because the circuit is in perfect conditions and I bought on Amazon a couple of new Exell A24PX/532 batteries. I check with a multimeter and the 3volts current is reaching the circuit correctly. It looks like the solenoid in charge of keeping the "2nd curtain" open is not working properly now, because when releasing the shutter both 1st and 2nd curtain are released at the same time... Do you have any suggestion to give me? What does your experience suggest? Thank you for your time.
Michael Raso's picture

Sadly, the light sensors will sometimes stop working. I've seen this problem many times and there is no fix. Best to keep the camera for display and find a replacement. :(

Erica cain's picture
Hi, I recently got a Polaroid camera and some film to go with it. I put the film in correctly and when I go to try and take a picture, you can see the red light and a shutter noise, but the film doesn't come out. I have a Polaroid 600, can you possibly help me with what I might be doing wrong?
Nice_Guy1966's picture

Hi I have a polaroid land cam 360 with the flash 365 unit.  Does anyone know what battery the flash unit takes ? 


Aaron Seerden 's picture
Hello all, wow looks like this thread hasn't been used in ages but whatever I'm pretty desperate for answers. So I recently bought a Polaroid 420 land camera and loaded it with fp 100c, and it seems that ever picture I take outdoors comes out horrifically overexposed, and that's with the l/d control on normal. Pictures still come out badly overexposed with it all the way turned over to darken. I've killed two packs of film trying to figure this out. Please help!! Am I not lifting my finger off the shutter fast enough or something? Is that even a possibility? I shouldn't have to set the light meter ALL the way towards darken on even just normally lit over cast days should I? I didn't used to have to on my automatic 100.
Linda G's picture
Here's a weird one - my Polaroid land 101 shutter clicks twice when I point the camera down, but when shooting straight ahead, only one click. I've wasted an entire box of film. Does anybody know what's going on? So close but so far from getting it right!
stangman517's picture
I just cleaned up my father's Land Camera 215 and the #268 flashgun. Camera works after I bought a new battery. However the flashgun doesn't work even though I cleaned it and used a new AA battery. I reopened the battery compartment again and noticed the black wire not soldered to anything, but the white wire is soldered. I looked and looked but cannot determine where the black wire is supposed to be soldered to. I took it completely apart except the clip that holds the bulb holder. Where does the black wire get soldered? Is it anywhere on the little, flat bar that actually ejects the bulb? Thanks!

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