Polaroid Model 95A- The Massive Misfit

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Polaroid Model 95A. Says so right on the front.

I’ve had this Polaroid Model 95A sitting in the land of misfit toys for a while. It’s had some strikes against it from the start. It’s a pretty sizable camera. The film it uses has been extinct since the early 90s. The only way to get any use out of it is to convert it to another format, which can be expensive, complicated, or both. It’s a refugee from Florida, so it had some mold and fungus issues. So it sat in the Land of Misfit Toys and took up space.

After a while, I decided to see what I could do with it.

This camera is a derivative of the original Polaroid camera, and is part of the first commercially successful instant photography system. The original camera, the Model 95, was the brain child of Edwin Land. Land created the system when his daughter wondered why she had to wait to see the picture that was just taken. The process he devised was genius, and complex. The cameras were works of art, fine examples of art deco influenced industrial design. The Polaroid 95A was called the Speedliner, and was totally designed and built in-house, not using any outside companies like the original 95 did. The lens is 130mm/ f8.8 and produces usable images even with a bit of haze I haven’t gotten in there and cleaned entirely out yet. The bellows are light tight, and the shutter works. I’ve cleaned up almost all of the fungus.

The only thing keeping it in the Land of Misfit Toys was the lack of film. These cameras are usually just left on the shelf. Conversions seem to lean towards pack film, but I’m staying away from that now. Fuji and I just don’t see eye to eye about the films the discontinue, and I don’t want to fall in the trap of starting a project on their film only to have them discontinue it on me again. Some of them are reconfigured as 120 roll film cameras to shoot wide shots. While the idea of a 6×10 camera is attractive, I’m not sure the extra weight is worth it. I had heard that the lens does lousy coverage for 4×5, and I’d need to pay a fairly large amount to convert it. That conversion would include a new lens from a Model 110.

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First shot I took with the Polaroid Model 95A. Horrible, but it proves it works. Coverage isn’t total, but isn’t bad.

I’ve loaded some 4×5 in to the back of it one sheet at a time and shot it, with some mixed results. Let’s just say I’m not the best at handling 4×5 just yet, since I’m teaching myself as I go along. But what I see from the results makes me want to shoot with the Model 95A more in the future. It turns out the coverage of the lens isn’t as bad as I had been warned about. I am currently pursuing conversion options for this camera, with an eye to converting it to 4×5.

So is this Polaroid Model 95A a rescue from the Land of Misfit Toys? It’s too early to tell, but the early results look promising.

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