Polaroid Spectra

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Polaroid introduced the Spectra system of cameras in the early 1980s. It was an all-new line of cameras, and had a corresponding new film. Spectra film (called 'Image' outside of North America) is different from 600 integral film in that it has a different image format: a rectangular 9.2 x 7.3cm rather than 600 film's square format. Spectra film is otherwise identical to 600 film - ISO speed, development method and operation remain identical. The Spectra range of cameras also sport better lenses on average than the 600-film range, with most of the models utilising an arc-shaped range of focusing lenses inside the body that swing across the exterior lens element to provide correct focusing, rather than adjusting the distance between internal lens elements. Spectra cameras are thought to take higher-quality pictures than a conventional 600 Polaroid camera, due to the camera's higher build quality and a proportionally larger print area.

Spectra film initially came with 10 shots per pack, but this was increased to 12 in most markets. Spectra film is also known as 1200 or Image film in some markets, and there are high definition and grid-marked versions available, as with 600 film.

All Spectra models except the Macro SLRs and the ProCam feature 125mm lenses, giving a field of view equivalent to 46mm on a 35mm film camera.

Spectra Variants

Over time, Polaroid has introduced many variants of the Spectra, but most include a 'Quintic' 125mm f/10 3-element plastic lens, self-timer, automatic exposure, and sonar autofocus; in many cases the addition or removal of user controls is the only distinguishing characteristic between models (eg the Spectra 2 has only exposure adjustment; Spectra 'E' only has AF, flash and lighten/darken controls and the original Spectra has these plus LCD display, self-timer and volume controls). The Spectra/Image series also has many optional accessories, such as close-up lenses, special effects filters and a "law enforcement" kit.

Spectra Onyx

Sports a semi-translucent grey body; otherwise functionally identical to original Spectra model.

Spectra 1200FF

Different folding mechanism to other Spectra models, featuring folding plastic bellows. The camera front is hinged at the bottom and opens vertically; similar in principle to a single-hinged SX-70 model though this is not an SLR camera. A black model known as the Spectra Blitz was marketed by the Lomography Society, but that model does not fold down.

  • Wider lens (100mm f/11.5, 2-element aspherical plastic).
  • Fixed-focus, but has built-in close-up lens for shots down to 60cm. A warning/reminder light appears near the viewfinder when the close-up lens has been selected.
  • Auto-flash with no ability to force on or off.
  • Built-in metal lens cover automatically slides over the lens when the camera is folded.
  • No tripod socket.
  • No Lighten/Darken control or other means of exposure compensation.
  • Shoots up to 12 exposures using the final generation of Spectra/Image 1200 film.


Sideways folding mechanism, with folding viewfinder mechanism. 90mm lens - shorter than any other Spectra model made - giving a wider field of view roughly equivalent to 33mm in 35mm film format. Time/date stamp capability, autofocus, lighten/darken control and was sold with a close-up lens attachment.

Macro 5 SLR

Single-lens-reflex designed primarily for medical and forensic work. Five preset magnifications: 0.2×, 0.4×, 1.0×, 2.0×, and 3.0×. Three optional supplementary lenses provide 0.67× and 5.0× (contact and non-contact) magnification. The image can be stamped with the date or time. This model (and its twin the Macro 3) are the only non-folding models of Spectra-film camera manufactured.

The Macro 5 has true SLR viewing (with a grid for alignment). Focus is performed by moving the camera until two light beams overlap on the subject, or until the image is sharp on the focusing screen. Twin electronic flashes can be used together, separately, or shut off. A PC socket permits use of external flash. An optional polariser reduces glare from non-metallic surfaces. An Intra-oral Dental Kit provides attachments for illuminating the teeth and gums.

There are two versions. The Macro 5 SLR, with a red shutter button, takes 10-exposure packs of Spectra film and its picture counter counts down. The Macro 5 SLR 1200, with a yellow shutter button, was designed for both 12- and 10-exposure packs; its picture counter counts up.

Macro 3 SLR

The Macro 3 SLR is similar to the Macro 5 SLR, but offers only three magnifications. (This is a stub entry and needs additional information.)

Spectra Pro

This camera was first introduced in the year 1990, and provides the greatest flexibility in terms of user control of all Spectra camera models.

The key features of this camera:

  • Optional Manual Focusing
  • Time Exposures
  • Programmed Time Exposures
  • Manual Time Exposures
  • Back-lighting
  • Sequential pictures
  • Self-timed sequential pictures
  • Variable sequential pictures
  • Multiple exposures

Before Polaroid produced the Spectra pro, Minolta licensed and marketed the same camera under the name of the Minolta Instant Pro. A special edition was made in collaboration with the jeweller Cartier, covered with three colours of gold, and with a gold-and-saphire decoration on the top. Auctioneer's notes on one of these sold at Westlicht state that just four of these cameras were made.[1]