The Color Pack II is a in the family of rigid plastic body cameras that were made as cheaper version than the Polaroid 100-400 series cameras that had folding bellows. This camera was first produced by Polaroid in 1969 and was discontinued in 1972. The original cost was right under $30 making it very affordable for the everyday consumer market. You can find these cameras relatively cheap online and in thrift or vintage shops today. They are somewhat old so their shape is always questionable.
Some of the first things to look for in a Polaroid Colorpack II Camera is if there is any corrosion in the battery compartment, which you can check by opening up the camera from the back. There is a metal latch that you can pop up that lets you open it up. Small amounts of corrosion may be cleanable, but I have seen batteries that explode or leak and then corrode entirely making them impossible to even take out of the camera from the holder. I would definitely pass on these if you see this is the case, they are unusable. Since Colorpack II’s are also almost entirely made out of plastic I would stay away from ones that are cracked or chipped. Any small bump or fall can then cause the entire camera to come apart.
Once you have your camera it is (in my opinion)fairly simple to use. First of all you need to add 2 AA batteries into the camera that go in holders right behind the lens. These control both the shutter and the ability for the flash to go off. The Colorpack can take both color and black and white pull apart film and you just have to change the switch at the top to either 75 for color or 3000 for black and white. Film that is readily available and still sold for this camera is made by Fujifilm. There is FP-100C, which is for color, and FP-3000B, which is for black and white. As of now they have discontinued the black and white film though you can still find it. The FP-100C color film can be found on amazon.com at this link FUJIFILM FP-100C 3.25 X 4.25 Inches Professional Instant Color Film
This film is actually not your conventional Polaroid film that everyone first thinks of. It is pull apart film that you take a snapshot with and then you pull it out of the camera. You wait a designated amount of time depending on the temperature and film (there are guidelines on the film itself that tells you the recommended of time to wait), then you pull apart the pieces of the paper apart to reveal your picture on one part and the negative on the other. Be sure to let the image dry first before touching it so that you don’t smudge it while it is still wet.
Once you pick out your film you can load it into the back of the open camera with the plastic back facing out and the window with the paper facing in. It should fit snugly in the back with the paper tag facing towards the open end of the camera and will stick out one it is closed. Pull on the tag once you have closed the camera and you should then see the first white pull tag sticking out of the camera with the number 1. Each picture is tagged with the numbers 1-10 so you can know what picture you are on.
Once you have the film inside the camera all set up now you just have to think about your settings and location. There are not many dials on the camera and so the things that you have to worry about now are the focus, light management and if you believe you might need a flash cube. The manual focus is controlled by the metal ring around the front lens and it labeled in feet and goes from about 3.5 to infinity. The number that you need will have to be lined up at the top of the lens in a little window like outline that is made by the plastic. You have to guess the focus to be what ever distance that you believe you are from the subject that you are shooting. Next thing you have to adjust is the light management, which I generally leave at the standard.
You can move the dial to make the picture darker or lighter depending on your lighting. If you think you would want it to be darker because you are in blinding white sunlight then turn the dial a bit to the darker side. Otherwise you mainly use this dial after you have taken you first shot and then adjust it to compensate.
As I said above this camera does take FlashCubes and they are no longer being made. Not to fear though since there are still many around and they can easily still be found on sites like Ebay.com and you can find them in my Etsy Shop. For the most part FlashCubes come in packs of 3 and each cube has 4 flashes for a total of 12 flashes in a pack. Each flash is one time use, so use them wisely. Flashcubes are generally needed the same way as when you would need a flash on your point and shoot camera or phone camera. If you are in a low light setting such as at night, indoors or you need a flash fill because you back lighting then you will probably need a flashcube. You can get away sometime with indoor settings without a flash cube it you set the camera on a steady surface and press the shutter button down for a few seconds. Just tell the subject not to more or the image will come out blurry. I think that the best pictures taken with this camera are outdoor ones on a bright sunny day so that you don’t have to worry about Flashcubes or settings as much.
Black and white images are nice as the shutter opens much quicker and you are able to action shots much better and everything has a romantic look to it. Color pictures are nice as well, but I find that if you do not have just the right setting you may wind up with images that either looked washed out or ones that are just too dark. Then you have to take another photo after adjusting the knobs and you still may not get it right. Although when you do have the right settings pictures are amazing! I have fixed up and resold this camera quite a bit and they are very popular I believe mostly due to its slick look and pretty blue faceplate. I have had many chances to work with this camera and have built up a good collection of photos taken with this particular model of Polaroid camera. If you are ever in the market for purchasing one for yourself it is generally in stock in my Shop. You can also find it at the direct link to it below:
So now you should be all ready to go out into the world and take some amazing shots! I hope that this review has been helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or anything else to add. I am always interested in what others have to say.
- Film type: Peel-apart 100-Series Land Pack Films (discontinued) or Fujifilm FP-100C (still manufactured).
- Lens: 114mm, f/9.2 3-element coated glass or uncoated plastic.
- Shutter: Electronic; range about 10s-1/500s
- Automatic exposure system similar to the folding pack cameras.
- Accepts flashcubes such as Phillips PFC 4 which automatically rotate after each exposure
- ISO 75 for colour prints, 3000 for black and white.
- Settings for 75 and 3000 speed films. (fixed aperture for each)
- Manual focus from 3 feet to infinity.
- Viewfinder contains a red square to show where the head in a portrait at 5 feet should appear.
- Has metal “spreader bars” instead of rollers.
- Body is dark brown-green in colour, with usually a cyan stripe on the front.
- Neck strap.
- Cold clip.
- Shutter requires two standard 1.5V AA batteries.
- Specifications from Camerapedia.com