James's Camera Collection: Polaroid Big Shot

Polaroid Big Shot USA Owner's Manual Instant Cameras The Land List
Polaroid Big Shot
Approx. dates of manufacture: 1971-1973
Approx. original price: $20
Approx. street value: None

It's too big to lose, but I can't find it and I swear I have one. It must be buried in a box of clothes in storage. It's too big and goofy a lummox for me to have willingly let it go. If I come across it again, I'll upload a photo.

My dad got this somehow—I tend to think it was a gift because I can't imagine him buying it on his own. I'm guessing maybe 3 film packs got run through it total.

This is a real head-scratcher of a camera. It's the sort of thing that must have come out of a meeting where someone was reading market research that said Polaroids were mostly used to take photos of people (as opposed to landscapes), and they decided to make one that's optimized for it.

click for larger ad So this is a portrait camera. It's meant to take mug shots, pure and simple. It's got a big split-image rangefinder on the side to help you position the camera the right distance away, and a frame in the viewfinder. The flash is right above the taking lens and uses a fresnel lens to diffuse the light. It's the sort of thing you'd buy if you were Catbert and needed to take employee photos in the days before digital. Though I still can't imagine how this camera is so much better than a normal Land camera would be at doing the same thing, and a Land camera isn't so limited.

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