Podcast Episode 241 - Polaroid Land Camera 120 Film Conversion!

Posted: 01/15/2020

Episode 241 - January 15, 2020

On today's episode Michael Raso, John Fedele and Mark Dalzell ring in the new year with listener letters, film news and discussion about Norman M. Dean's 120 medium format film conversion for the iconic and beloved Polaroid Automatic Land Camera.

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Show notes by Michael Raso

For folks reading this who already own a Polaroid Automatic Land Camera and would like to convert it to shoot 120 roll film, head on over to Norman M Dean's conversion site on ETSY - https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnalogNMD

Even if you don’t own one, most film photographers recognize the Polaroid Automatic Land Camera, introduced in 1963 by Polaroid director and visionary Dr. Edwin Land - also known as the father of instant photography. Although Polaroid instant photography had been available since 1948, the Automatic Land Camera introduced a new, color film to the consumer in a flat 10-photo cartridge known as “pack film”.

When the original Polaroid corporation folded at the end of the 20st century, Japan’s FujiFilm had assumed film production for the iconic camera, now primarily used for ID and Passport photos worldwide. Although casual instant film shooters adopted the inexpensive film, the volume couldn’t sustain continued manufacture. So, when the passport industry finally converted to digital in the 2010s, FujiFilm discontinued all instant pack film. At the time of this blog, expired FujiFilm sells for almost $100.us per pack and although visionaries like Dr Florian Kaps are determined to SAVE PACK FILM, as of 2020 the goals have not been fully realized.

Above: Mark Dalzell reading the news. BIG 6x9cm negative image scanned from a roll of Kodak Tmax 100 bw film / AnalogNMD Polaroid Automatic Land Camera (Model 350) 120 converted camera. Photo by Michael Raso

Enter Norman M. Dean, an IT tech who with lives in Oregon. Norman is a long-time film shooter who began listening to the Film Photography Podcast back in 2014. When Norman started shooting instant film in his own Automatic Land Camera, he used FPP YouTube tutorials as guidance. When pack film was discontinued, Norman came up with an “outside the box” solution that would allow him to continue using Automatic Land Cameras, with one caveat: instead of shooting instant film, he would adapt it to shoot 120 medium format film.  Bringing his expertise to the project, Norman designed and 3D printed a brand new 120 roll film back for the Automatic Land Camera – known as the DN-P120 120 roll film back.  Once perfected, he launched his ETSY store and contacted the FPP about his invention.

To facilitate testing, Norman kindly sent me a loaner camera (Polaroid 350 Automatic Lance Camera) along with his new 120 film back.  It's been many years since I've shot with this type of camera, and excitement coursed through my fingers as I loaded a roll of Kodak Tmax 100 bw film into a newly converted Automatic Lance Camera!

Shooting with this camera after so many years was a joy, and when I processed the photos I was newly reminded of the one-of-a-kind images resulting from its unique lens that captivated me so long ago.

As of this writing you can purchase a fully converted camera from Norman or send your own Polaroid Automatic Land Camera (models 100, 250, 350, 450) for conversion. Results from my test roll are illustrated above.

More to come as I continue testing this marvelous converted camera!


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