I wanted to give a quick update on the custom Instax and Polaroid cameras I've bought over the past year.. in that time I've had a chance to really test them in studio and outdoor/location many times (probably 5,000 photos between them) and wanted to give some impressions after using them for a while, as well as answer any questions that people might have!
You can view images of all 4 cameras (and photos from each) at: Swing Pocket Maxi Unique YESNO Casual Long Long Loose Sleeve XA7 Women Dress Striped Black Skirt Jq4 SqwXvwt4Pr
In total, I've been using 4 custom cameras:
* Polaroid 110a - Converted to use i-Type and 600 style film
* Polaroid 110b - Converted to use Instax Wide
* Mini 70 - Converted Instax Mini camera with new lens and shutter
* Wide 300 - Converted Instax Wide camera with new lens and shutter
Prices can vary greatly with the Instax Mini 70 going for about ~$325 and the Polaroid 110b w/ Instax Wide going for about $1200. The converted Instax cameras (Mini 70/wide 300) seem to be the best value, at about $325 for a mini and $650 for a wide.
Where to buy them?
I picked up the Polaroid 110a (Polaroid 600 film), Wide 300 and Mini 70 from OPTION8 - turnaround time was always very quick and he does stand behind the products (I actually have one getting repaired right now). I picked up the Polaroid 110b from PerfectPolaroids (which recently shut down) and the turnaround time was almost 6 months and I had multiple people messaging me about their bad experiences waiting for a product, getting one significantly not as described or not getting one at all. I would recommend Option8 of the ones I've used. A new person is now making a multi-format Instax Wide + Polaroid 600 mod to the Polaroid 110b's (calling them a "110i") which is very interesting and may be the best value since it can shoot instax mini/wide/square and 600 films due to swappable backs.
Ease of use?
The Polaroid 110s have a great benefit of a built in rangefinder so you can focus within the camera. This can be very helpful when traveling light (no need for a laser or pocket rangefinder) but it can also be a bit difficult to nail focus properly, partiularly on the smaller window on the 110b. The Wide 300/Mini 70 customs use a scale on the lens marked in feet ( 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 7, 10, etc..) and you simply turn it to match the distance of your subject. I purchased this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N9TCRJ4/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 which lets you quickly determine subject distance with a laser and fine-tune that into the lens. In darker conditions, I find this the easier way to set focusing distnce.
all of these cameras are fully manual -- you'll need to set the Shutter and Aperture.. there is no "Auto" mode.
The big features are full manual control (set the exact shutter speed and aperture, as well as focusing distance) as well as connect external flashes/studio lights to an instax camera. More accurate framing and more properly exposed shots than the auto mode on instax cameras.
The price.. these things are expensive. The durability.. Since these are all custom-built, you're relying a lot on the builders workmanship. I've had one die on me so far and have seen others with similar issues. Whereas the Instax camras from FujiFilm are pretty solid, these are cameras 50+ years old that have been cut up and glued togther. My 110b came as the wrong color (ordered black, received red) and with dust on the rollers. If anything breaks.. you'll ikely need to send it in for repair. The Wide 300 tends to vignette quite a bit (noticeable particularly up close and on light backgrounds). The Wide 300 also tends to pick up lens flares much easier (and backlit shots tend to get messed up easily). I did, however, find the Wide 300 to expose properly at ISO 800 while the Polaroid 110a had to be stopped down about 1/3 stop.
Benefits of each?
The Mini 70 is nice for the compact size an cheap film (about $0.50/shot) as well as low price of the camera. Most will want the Wide 300 and that camera is about twice as much (but the film is twice as big!). It's a bit bulkier to use but the added film size is very nice.
One of the nice things about instax/polaroid is the unpredictability of it.. and you do lose that a bit here. With the automat cameras and funky options like the Lomo instax cameras, you don't know what you get and that's a lot of the fun! The downside with those are when you get bad shot after bad shot, an that's where these fit in. These will let you get consistent shots that are propery exposed and focused on the subject.
I've included a large amount of samples (and which cameras were used) on the link at the top. More samples @ http://instax.mikerollerson.com
Feel free to ask any questions you might have!
I am trying to figure out what the issue is. I can see thru the view finder. when i press the button it takes a picture but it comes out black
is this a shutter problem or mirror problem? maybe both?
thank you very much!
What's the camera like? Can I review photos I take before I decide to print them? The info is unclear on that.