Polaroid Land 800 and Shanghai 4×5 film
These cameras were produced from 1957 to 1962. Since the disappearance of roll film in the 90s, this camera had been abandoned as trash since.
I picked up a couple of these units when I was back in Toronto a few months ago. Both were in perfect condition and all the accessories intact. This camera features an EV lighting system with fixed aperture and shutter speed.
The pairing is as follows:
EV 10 f/8.8 1/12
EV 11 f/8.8 1/25
EV 12 f/8.8 1/50
EV 13 f/8.8 1/100
EV 14 f/12.5 1/100
EV 15 f/17.5 1/100
EV 16 f/25 1/100
EV 17 f/35 1/100
Initially getting these two cameras, I wanted to modify it so that I can use it as a medium format panoramic camera. I wanted to put in a roll of 120 and see if I can get 6×10 or 6×12 shots out of this.
Walking in the camera market in Shanghai prior to my trip back to Toronto, I saw some really cheap Shanghai 100 ISO 4×5 film. Doing medium format for years, I am always itching to move onto large format. So I picked up a box of el cheapo Shanghai 4×5 film and off I went.
Honestly, it’s a pain to insert the 4×5 film into these Polaroid 800 cameras in a dark bag. Basically, I have to do this once for every shot. This work flow is extremely not portable, but hey, reminding myself, it’s large format, it’s not supposed to be that portable.
On this camera, there are two viewfinders, one for focusing and one for framing. I was impressed with the rangefinder. It was crisp and accurate and with a maximum aperture of only F8.8, I experienced no focusing issues.
My first two shots with this camera, however, was a disaster. The photos came out totally underexposed. This can be traced back to two mistakes I made. First, I used the Polaroid light meter that came with the cameras. Bad call. Second, reading in the many forums, a lot of people are over exposing this film and shooting it like a ISO 50 film.
The second and third trials got better and basically I needed to overexpose the original settings by about 1.5 EVs.
The details were amazing. The Polaroid land 800 has a mask with rounded corners. The exposed area of of the photo is not 4×5 but a bit smaller than that.
My film development process. All chemical temperature @20C. Water bath one minute. Guan Long (冠龍) D76 1+1 14 minutes. Water Stop Rince 3x + 2 mins. Guan Long F-5 Fix 8 mins. Water Rince 3x + 2 mins and Kodak Photoflo. Scanned with Epson Perfection 4870.
The first experience with the Polaroid Land 800 was quite successful and I finished the whole box of 25 shots in within the first two weeks.
Why Polaroid Land 800? Simple. It’s cheap, readily available, full manual and has no electronic components.