Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Polaroid Automatic Land Camera is producing black frames! / Polaroid Question and Tip

On set with April-Lea Hutchinson

blog by Michael Raso

For the last 6 months I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras. I’ve been blogging , pod casting and making videos about this wonderful series of cameras, so I’m not surprised that I’m now getting e-mails about camera problems. I’d like to share an e-mail exchange with you. Perhaps it’ll help you with your Polaroid Automatic Land Camera!

Hi, I just purchased a Polaroid 420 from the FPP Store. It got here fine, looks great, loaded it up with FP-100c and my first shot came out just fine. Every shot I've tried since then has been coming out black - no image - just a black rectangle. My ISO is set right (75), I'm cocking the shutter, I can hear it go ping when I press the shutter release, the film seems to come out from the machine just fine, I'm letting the negative sit while it develops as directed by Fuji, but when I peal, no image. I haven't tried anything film other than the original ten FP-100c that I loaded initially. Any idea what might be happening?

Many thanks for any advice you might be able to give me.

Peter via e-mail


Michael Raso to Peter
show details Jun 26 (2 days ago)


Sounds like the camera shutter isn't getting power or you are not keeping your finger on the shutter when exposing your image.

Firstly, lets test the shutter. (Without film in the camera) shoot in an indoor room. Cock and then press the shutter (keeping your finger on the shutter til it opens and then closes). Do you hear the shutter open, then close. Try in various light situations. Dim, dim light will leave the shutter open. If you swing your camera into a light mid-shot, you'll hear the shutter close.

Still no "click - click"? Might be a power problem.

Carefully open the battery compartment, remove and then return the batteries into their compartment making sure the batteries are making a connection.

Repeat step one. When shooting make sure you keep your finger depressed on the shutter til the camera shutter opens then closes. You will hear two clicks when shooting in dim light. (meaning the shutter is operating)

Please let me know your results!

Michael Raso

Film Photography Podcast



Doctor, your diagnosis was excellent. User error. I wasn't holding down the shutter release button long enough. I was hitting it and releasing rather than holding it down. Thank you!


Top image: April-Lea Hutchinson shoots with the Polaroid 420. Image by Michael Raso

Below: FPP You Tube video about the Polaroid 420 Automatic Land Camera

Film Photography Podcast - March 2011
What is FPP?
The Film Photography Project seeks to inform, engage and inspire amateur and professional photographers working in the traditional film medium. Launched by FPP founder Michael Raso in 2009, FPP provides a forum for photographers from around the globe to share their creative output, challenges and product reviews, while promoting the viability of vintage cameras and film through frequent give-aways and exchange programs. In addition to the Film Photography Podcast Internet Radio Show, the Film Photography Project network of imprints includes the FPP Flickr Page, YouTube Channel, Facebook Group, Twitter Account, newsletter and the Film Photography Project Store.

Polaroid Impulse Portrait / Impossible PX 600 UV+
About me
Michael Raso is passionate about film as a viable and exciting medium for the visual artist, even in this age of digital photography. A photographer, producer and filmmaker working professionally in the visual arts for over 20 years, Michael is also the founder of the Film Photography Project and its fortnightly internet radio show, the Film Photography Podcast. At last count, Michael was actively shooting with over 50 vintage cameras.

FPP Episode Episode 36 - June 1, 2011 features a spotlight on the Polaroid Automatic 420.

Have a question about your film photography? E-mail me anytime!
Michael Raso
FilmPhotographyPodcast (AT)

April-Lea Hutchinson's Polaroid Automatic 420 Land Camera
Purchase your own Polaroid 420 Camera at the FPP Store!

Content Copyright 2011 Film Photography Project, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.

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