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Land 103 Polaroid converted to shoot on photo paper

Polaroid film is expensive, photographic paper is cheap. This post shows you how to adapt a Land 103 (plus an empty polaroid film case) to shoot on paper. Also I show how to adapt the camera to use 2 x modern AAA batteries.

The conversion is TOTALLY REVERSIBLE just by removing a bit of tape, so the camera can still shoot on Polaroid.

This is the completed conversion: A Land 103 with a manual exposure length control and a tripod fitting. The manual exposure control lets you take long exposures suitable for photographic paper’s very low ISO (usually equivalent to between 3 and 6 ISO). The exposure switch is on the end of a long wire, so, you don’t shake the camera when you stop the exposure, which would blur the shot. The tripod screw comes in handy for such long exposures – Polaroids aren’t usually fitted with them because they’re designed as point and click cameras for fast film exposures.

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First of all, before you can shoot on film or paper you need to put batteries in the camera. The old style batteries are still available but are pretty expensive, so I converted the camera to use 2 x AAA batteries held in a double battery pack.

You can open the battery door by pulling the little depression at the top left rear of the camera.

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I cut the old battery clip off the white and black wires inside the battery door. I soldered them to the double AAA battery pack. White goes to + and black goes to -. I had to cut down some of the plastic walls inside the battery compartment so I could fit the battery case inside and close the door. I didn’t feel good cutting into something that’s almost an antique, but I think things should be used to keep them alive.

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The tripod fitting is cut from an old fashioned camera case. Some old style cases would screw into the camera, then you’d screw the tripod into the case. This particular one had a single large disc of metal with a threaded hole on the bottom, and a threaded bolt on the top. I dremeled the top bolt off to make a flat surface, then hot glued it to the base of the camera.

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The simplest part of the manual exposure conversion is to add a bit of black electrical tape over the light sensor on the front of the camera. This fools the electronics into keeping the shutter open constantly after you press the red shutter button marked ’2′.. the next step is to add another button which closes the shutter again.

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If you remove that bit of tape, the camera will use the automatic exposure again so you can still shoot on Polaroid whenever you want!

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The most awkward step: remove the four screws, one at each corner behind the lens assembly.

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You can unscrew them using a small flathead screwdriver held at an angle.

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Put all the bits somewhere safe!

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I soldered wires to these exposed contacts on the flexible circuit board:

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I passed the wires out through the hole in the left side of the lens assembly.

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The other end of the wires has a switch soldered to it. The switch needs to be a ‘normally closed’, or NC, type. I used a DPDT switch as a normally closed switch because I had one spare, but if you’re not into electronics, just buy a ‘normally closed’ one.

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Screw the lens assembly back together. One of the screws is longer than all the others – that one fits in the top right hole.

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That’s all the mechanical stuff done. The next photos show how I fitted photographic paper into the empty Polaroid film case that luckily came with the camera.

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The lined card is standing in for photographic paper – I didn’t want to ruin a sheet of photo paper just to make this how-to. Obviously, you’d normally load paper in a darkroom under a red light.

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Cut the ‘photo paper’ to size…

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..and slide it under the edges of the frame on top of the film case.

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Now you’ve done all that, here’s how to take a photo with the modified camera:

First, take a light meter reading to find the exposure time (f-stop 7, ISO 6 – you can download apps for Android and iOS that turn your phone into a light meter), and make sure the slider on top of the lens assembly is set to COLOR. Then push down the white lever marked ’3′.

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Second, open the shutter by pressing the red button marked ’2′. Start timing the exposure.

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Third, when the time’s up, end the exposure by pressing the switch on the end of the wires.

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