Building a fully manual Polaroid studio camera

It turns out that shooting Polaroids in the studio isn’t impossible — it just takes a little bit of engineering and ingenuity. Here’s how I turned a $200 toy into a studio camera.

Haje Jan Kamps
Dec 16, 2020 · 7 min read
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Being able to use studio lights with the Polaroid camera was a ton of fun.
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One of the first portraits I took with the new Franken-Polaroid camera — before I was able to control the camera settings.

Picking a camera

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Polaroid OneStep+ to the rescue
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The Bluetooth app for the Polaroid OneStep+ gives you full control over the camera. f/32 means that focusing won’t be a problem. 1/60 second is perfect for the strobes. And the ISO is controlled by the film. Perfect!

Getting the flash to play nice

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A cheap slave flash trigger meant I didn’t have to electrocute myself over and over.

Building a slave flash assembly

Step 1: Add a tripod mount

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Seen from the bottom, this is the tripod thread. I used a bolt.

Step 2: Add a button pass-through

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Do you like my super high tech drawing on the side to remind me what I was doing?

Step 3: Mount it

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All the final pieces, ready to mount. On the left, the block with the slave flash sensor mounted. The metal piece in the middle is the button extender — and you can see the red button on the camera that it needs to press.
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A dab of super-glue later, and the aluminum block is firmly mounted in place.
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I carefully masked off the flash so it only shines through to the part of the slave flash that needs to see the camera flash.
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Tah-daa. All done.

Does it work?

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Testing different apertures and shutter speeds on the Polaroid camera to figure out what works… And what doesn’t.
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Well that took more experimentation than I was hoping for…
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Finally figured out the exposure.

Photography Secrets

Amazing things you always wanted to know about photography…

Haje Jan Kamps

Written by

CEO of Konf, pitch coach for startups, enthusiastic dabbler in photography.

Photography Secrets

Amazing things you always wanted to know about photography — but was too scared to ask!

Haje Jan Kamps

Written by

CEO of Konf, pitch coach for startups, enthusiastic dabbler in photography.

Photography Secrets

Amazing things you always wanted to know about photography — but was too scared to ask!

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