Friday, December 2

The first instant camera in history was born out of impatience: this was the Polaroid Land 95


The chronicles say that the Polaroid camera was born out of the impatience of the little daughter of its inventor, Edwin Herbert Land. She wanted to see the photograph that had been taken of her immediately and her father devised the Polaroid Land 95, the first instant camera in history.


The history of photography would not be the same without the famous Polaroids. His reign began in 1948 and ended with the advent of digital photography. They released many models, such as the mythical SX-70. But the one that started it all was the Polaroid Land 95, the first model that cost almost 100 dollars back then.

The birth of a myth

The Polaroid Land 95 was the first commercially available instant film camera. It was in stores until 1954, when the new versions were presented, with which it is easy to confuse it if you do not have much experience in this world. I was working with a roll film that allowed to make 8 shots of 7.2 x 9.5 cm which is already difficult, if not impossible, to find.

All of us who comb gray hair, or have had to forget about the comb forever, have contributed to the magic of a Polaroid. It was a different experience get the picture moments after the shot. Shake the paper (although it was absolutely useless) and see how the image was formed before our eyes.

Polaroid 95 Science Museum Group

Even in the midst of the digital maelstrom, some brands follow the path set by Polaroid, such as FujiFilm’s Instax, although the cameras do not have the glamor of the American brand’s models. The downside is the final price of each photograph.

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The Polaroid Land 95 is named after its creatorEdwin Herbert Land. His design is not far from the bellows cameras of the 20s and 30s, with the intention of giving him that professional image of those mythical models. From this time are the Leica M3, the Canon II S2 or the Nikon S2, the golden moment of rangefinders.

Edwin Land

Edwin Land showing his new model

It was the invention of one of the most ingenious chemists of the second half of the 20th century, capable of leading a company dedicated to polarized sunglasses to mark an era in photography. He retired in 1981, after filing more than 500 patents (he just filed more than Thomas Edison).

Polaroid 95 Science Museum Group

The brand has disappeared, as we could see in this documentary, but we are still talking about polaroids when we refer to instant photography. This camera was the one that started it all. And not even digital photography makes us forget about it.

How is the Polaroid 95

It wasn’t exactly cheap, but it cost less than the cameras we have named, which was around 400 dollars. It is true that they were professional cameras, but this Polaroid weighed almost two kilos and was 24 cm tall. Something impressive and necessary because it had inside a system of rollers that moved the film, broke the chemical bags and many more things that happened in a very complex model.

We are in front of a camera with a 135mm f11 lens very simple, with only three lenses. The shutter only had four speeds, from 1/8 to 1/60, and could only be focused by estimation. That is, you calculated the distance to the eye of a good cubero and prayed that the diaphragm gave the necessary depth of field to achieve a focused image.

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Polaroid 95 Handbook

To expose there was no choice but to read the manual, because it was not exposed as usual, with the aperture and shutter speed, but a number from 1 to 8, to change both the aperture and the shutter speed.

Its operation is complex, as we can see in the camera manual. You had to put the roll inside and to take a picture, you had to separate the negative (which was exposed) from the positive first. After pulling the trigger, the photographer had to open another tab to unite the negative with the positive again and break the chemical containers.

polaroid ad

played then wait about 60 seconds for the image to develop. Subsequently, another tab had to be opened to remove the positive after separating it from the negative. So you got a black and white image at the moment, to show everyone.

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It was so successful that new versions soon came out. A million of this model alone were manufactured, so its value on the current market is very low. For less than €100, you can buy it second-hand and have a piece of photographic history in your home.

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