Polaroid Big Shot

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The Big Shot was one of the most unusual cameras Polaroid ever introduced. It is a rigid-bodied model that dwarfs others in the series. Released in 1971 and produced until 1973, it is designed for portrait use only, and has a fixed focal distance of only about a metre.[1] It has a 220mm f/29 plastic meniscus lens,[2] a fixed-speed mechanical shutter, and a fixed-focus rangefinder to help the photographer keep the subject in focus. Because the camera itself is fixed-focus, the photographer has to move back and forth until the subject appears in focus. This technique has been called the "Big Shot Shuffle."[2]

Above the body is a flash diffuser; it diffuses the light from a Magicube flash cube mounted behind it, to soften shadows cast when taking the picture. Use without flash was not recommended (very bright daylight would be required, at f/29), although the front of the lens has Polaroid's normal lighten/darken exposure control. No battery was needed to fire the flash cube. 100 series Packfilms (75-100 ASA) were recommended for use in the camera.

The camera's spreader bar, whose design freqently fouls (after repeated use) with debris, can be easily swapped out for the more advanced stainless steel roller assembly found in the Polaroid Colorpack series consumer cameras. Both the spreader bar assembly and stainless steel roller assembly are easily removed for cleaning of chemical residue. This same stainless steel roller bar assembly is also used in a lot of the commercial Polaroid cameras.

Henny Waanders modified four of the cameras and was sold by impossible in 2011. This version of the camera can uses a Polaroid CB 70 series integral film holder as well as the traditional type 100 holders and films.[3]


The artist Andy Warhol was purportedly fond of this camera in particular, and today it has a cult status among Polaroid cameras for its eccentricity. The quality of the portraits is striking, and it is possible to do shots of couples, if they squeeze their heads together, ear to ear.


Notes

  1. Big Shot at Collection d'Appareils by Sylvain Halgand (in French).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Big Shot at the Land List.
  3. Shoot it like Andy shot. (archived)
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