Ever since I got back into shooting film, I’ve had a hankering for a polaroid camera; it appears unusually none of my relatives ever owned one, I have no recollection of any of my friends having one either, in fact so far as I can remember I’ve never even seen one used! I was in one of Cirencester’s Charity Shops a couple of weeks ago (Helen and Douglas House in Cirencester if you’re interested, lovely people) and they had one. I got them to take it out for a look, and it looked okay but of course with the battery in the film cartridge you can’t test them. I decided as it was very sensible money I’d take a punt, and they even offered to let me return it if it didn’t work! So I ordered a pack of Polaroid Originals 600, watched some videos on how to use it, and loaded up the film. There was a lot of satisfying whirring and the dark slide popped out, all good thus far….so I pointed and shot…
Old cameras, we’ve all got them, our relatives have got them, our friends have got them.
I’m mainly talking about old film cameras here, but we’re getting to the point where we’ve almost got vintage digital cameras now. Sitting on the shelf behind my desk is our first digital camera, an Agfa ePhoto CL18, vintage 2000 with .3 megapixel resolution and a whopping 2mb of storage. Allegedly one can download a driver for it which will work with modern operating systems but I’ve not tried. I really ought to. My oldest camera is, I think, the Kodak one my dad bought just before I was born in 1961. A few years ago I found I found somebody who could supply and process 127 film and put a roll through it. Fifty plus years old, not been used in 25 of those, worked like and charm and the photos were fine. I do quite a bit of shooting on a film EOS which my mother in law doesn’t use any more, and the K1000 I bought in 1979 purrs like a kitten and lets me make great photos.
But I think it’s important that these cameras don’t sit on shelves or in drawers, I think they ought to be used. It’s a much less dramatic idea than that which drives restorers of aeroplanes and cars and trains, but the idea is the same. They were built to do something and we sort of owe it to them in a strange way to fulfil that idea. Also, its’ fun to see what comes out. Those old lenses all behave differently, and the different film stocks too. Also, and not the least, using them is fun!
So, the next time you find an old camera at home get a roll of cheap film and use it. If you see one round at granny’s house, ask to borrow it and make some images with it. You’re not going to want to replace your DSLR with it, but you’re going to have a great time.