Polaroid 180 Land Camera Review

In the beginning of 2012, I knew I wanted to buy a Polaroid camera. There is something so irresistibly fun about taking a photograph and having the print in front of you instantaneously. I considered several options, but ultimately decided on the Polaroid 180 Land Camera with a 114mm Tominon Lens.

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #1

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #2

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #3

For my first Polaroid camera I wanted something old—not one of the new Fuji Instax Camera (although, I think I might have an Instax purchase in my near future too! I am hooked on instant cameras right now!).

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #4

(Fuji FP-3000B, slightly desaturated in Photoshop)

Initial Impressions + Specs

After having used this camera for a year, the Polaroid 180 is the perfect camera for me. You can set the exposure manually (selecting the aperture and shutter speed independently), which was an important factor when looking for an instant camera. And, it is decent in low light because the aperture ranges from f90 to f4.5 with 18 click stops. The shutter speeds run from 1s to 1/500 with Bulb.

I attached an OpTech strap to mine, since it did not come with one (you can see the strap in the product photos above).

I also enjoy the fact that this camera folds up and isn’t TOO large to carry around. When closed with its case, the dimensions are 2.5 inch depth x 8 inch width x 4.5 inch high. When open, the camera measures 7 inch depth x 8 inch width x 4.5 inch high.

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #6

The Film

Fuji makes 2 film stocks that fit the Polaroid 180 which can be ordered new from B&H:

- FP-3000B Professional Instant Black & White Film (10 Exposures) $9.49

- FP-100C Professional Instant Color Film ISO 100 (10 Exposure, Glossy) $8.09

This is 3¼×4¼” instant peel-apart instant film. When you peel it apart you are left with your image and the negative. The Polaroid version of this film is expired, not in production, expensive, and hard to find, which is why I think the new Fuji version is the way to go.

My favorite film to shoot the Fuji FB-3000B (the black and white version). I like it because it is great indoors or on cloudy days, and I love the classic look of black and white. I scan my images from the Polaroid 180 on a Canon MX882 Printer/Flatbed Scanner and I often desaturate the scan a little bit in Photoshop.

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #7
(My Polaroid 180 with 2 photographs taken with the Fuji FP-3000B instant film — photo taken on an iphone)

The black and white film also produces a negative that can be used as is. The negative from the color film must be bleached before you can use it (which I have never tried). The right image below was produced by scanning the negative from a Fuji FP-3000B photo and inverting in Photoshop. In order to have a usable negative, be sure to let the emulsion sit for 1.5 minutes before pulling apart.

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #5
(Shot with Fuji FP-3000B. Image on the left is the scanned Polaroid desatured in Photoshop. Image on the right is the scanned negative, which was then inverted and also desaturated in Photoshop.)

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #8
(Fuji FP-3000B, not desaturated in Photoshop—this is the true color of the printed image)

The Focusing

This camera uses a rangefinder method of focusing. That means that when you look through the viewfinder, you can see a second, smaller image of your scene. To get your shot in focus you must move the focusing lever until the two images line up. The smaller image of the scene is quite small, and sometimes it is hard for me to see if it is correctly matched up. I do get quite a few photos not completely in focus due to this.

Polaroid 180 Review Sample #9
(Fuji FP-100C … out of focus)

Battery

One of my favorite parts about this camera is that no battery is required!

The price and where to buy

These cameras are no longer sold new on any local shops or online retailers. But you can find one on sites like Ebay and Craigslist … I bought mine used off a photographer on Facebook for $230.


Support Photography Life!

We constantly work hard on adding unique content, gear reviews and up-to-date photography news, in addition to continuously expanding the site with new sections and useful content. However, we need your continuous support to deliver the best content and allow our website to expand its reach. If you would like to help us out, please consider purchasing gear from our links to our trusted partners like B&H Photo Video and Adorama. It won't cost you anything, but it will help us pay our contributors, hosting and other expenses to run this website. In addition, if you feel like we do a good job, you can pledge one-time or monthly. We do not run any advertising at Photography Life to keep it clean for your viewing pleasure, so your support is extremely important for us to keep it that way.

Please see the Support Us page for our partner links and a donation form. Also, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Comments

  1. I love how beautiful the black and white images are from this land camera, definitely will be scouring ebay, thanks Laura!

    • 17
      ) Alex

      Hello – I have one which I might sell – it belonged to a family member and I have never used it but it seems to be in very good condition – I have ordered film to test it – and some of the lenses are still in their plastic wrappers and the original case is included. Are you still interested?

      • 21
        ) Nick

        Hey, Alex if you get your camera working and willing to sell it,

        I’d be interested in buying the camera if no one else wants it.

  2. I would have never even thought I could use a polaroid for an e-session.. This is awesome! The look of the images are so cool! I am so glad I read this I am going to def follow this blog thats to you Laura!

  3. 3
    ) Joyce

    love this post! I having been looking for a polaroid camera. This might be the one :)

    • 18
      ) Alex

      Hello – I have one which I might sell – it belonged to a family member and I have never used it but it seems to be in very good condition – I have ordered film to test it – and some of the lenses are still in their plastic wrappers and the original case is included. Are you still interested?

  4. I absolutely adore your work and what you do with this camera. You just might have pushed me over the edge to start looking for one…

    • 19
      ) Alex

      Hello – I have one which I might sell – it belonged to a family member and I have never used it but it seems to be in very good condition – I have ordered film to test it – and some of the lenses are still in their plastic wrappers and the original case is included. Are you still interested?

  5. 5
    ) Nina

    LOVE this!!! I have been itching to get a 180 for some time now. I have another model that doesn’t have that great glass, and it just doesn’t cut it. Great images, and great article!

  6. Great Read! I think I’ll be adding a Polaroid camera to my bag soon!

  7. THANKS girls for your comments! :) :)

  8. 8
    ) Adeline

    What a great review! The 180 is officially on my must have list! Thank Laura for all the amazing information! You’re the best!

  9. What’s the life expectancy of a polaroid? Nice article Laura

    • Hi Gabriel,

      A decently handled and cared for Polaroid Land camera can last indefinitely. My Polaroid 250 Automatic Land Camera is the same age as me – produced in 1967 – and we’re both doing quite well! Mine had a simple battery conversion that lets it take AAA batteries, which last for years. Michael Raso of the Film Photography Project sells lots of these cameras that he tests, refurbishes, and converts the batteries for. I didn’t get mine from him, though, so this is not a direct endorsement of his work, although I’m sure it’s great.

      For anyone interested, I looked for the 180 model on my local auction site in Taiwan and found a BRAND NEW complete set! Here it is:

      http://goods.ruten.com.tw/item/show?21105121740813

      The seller has rejected offers of up to US$2000, so anyone interested should inquire with that in mind. Apparently this fully manual model fetches quite a lot of money. Fortunately, I am very pleased with the performance of my Automatic 250 Land Camera and will not be tempted to acquire the manual version.

      When I shoot weddings I always bring my Polaroid 250 and Fuji 3000B film with me to take portraits of the bride as well as some other images of her interaction with her husband and bridesmaids or other family members. It’s always a huge hit, both in the surprise and joy people show at seeing the camera, and at the gorgeous quality of the images. They always want to have the prints right away, but I usually take them home, scan the originals, and then send them to the bride with the other prints and electronic files.

  10. 11
    ) Jess

    Lovely pictures, I have a Polaroid 180 myself and love it to pieces but i’ve had some issues with circular flares possible light leaks that i’ve struggled to get to the bottom of. Just wondered if you had any issues yourself?

    thanks in advance

    Jess
    x

  11. 12
    ) sfxphotoarts

    I am not sure what you mean by saying you desaturated the b&w photos. They are already fully desaturated, possibly you meant lowering the contrast or something because otherwise it makes no sense. From a quick inspection of the sample above that you didn’t “desaturate” I notice that the scan has a little too much blue, but this is just because you didn’t scan correctly.

    You got a good deal because the 180 routinely sells on eBay for $450-$550

  12. 13
    ) Juergen

    The “WestLicht” camera auction in vienna will offer my unike Polaroid 180 set on 23nd November 2013. Online bidders welcome. Get this phantastic lovely piece of camera for you!
    http://www.westlicht-auction.com

  13. 14
    ) Juergen

    Nice and working well Polaroid 180 Land Camera kit for sale here:

    http://www.auction2000.se/auk/w.Object?inC=WLPA&inA=20131004_0909&inO=619#.UmrU-AYKVLp.twitter

  14. 15
    ) Alex

    I have a Polaroid 180 Land Camera that I might sell. It belonged to a family member and I have never used it. The original case and many/all? of the original accessories are included – some of the lenses are still in their plastic wrappers. Can someone suggest the best way to sell this? Thank you.

  15. Good stuff! Also, for anyone looking to use Photoshop to turn photos into polaroids (polaroid frame around photo), check out this quick Photoshop Action: Polaroid Photoshop Action

  16. 20
    ) Keith R. Starkey

    You know, when CDs first came out, you could hear the overall higher frequency; that tinny sound, though crystal clear and all. And for a long time, I still enjoyed the sound of a good, strong cassette instead. Well, it’s kind of like that with regard to photos taken by black and white film cameras compared to black and white photos taken by digital cameras. The look of real black and white is just somehow something deeper and more intimate than digital black and white, at least of what digital black and white photos I’ve seen so far (i’m pretty new to photography).

    I was looking at some of the black and white works fo John Free and other street photographers. Man, there’s nothing like black and white film when these guys shoot. Those “old” cameras are still very important and special in the world of photography. Nothing like them, as I’ve seen, matches what they produce. It’s not an issue of black and white film being “better”; it’s film black and white is its own species and produces its own unique creation.

Leave a Comment

*