Polaroid 600 SE
A Multi-Format Monster
It's a brute: there's
no doubt about that. With a 6x9cm back, 75mm lens, and finder, it's
over 8" (200mm) tall and weighs well over 6 lbs or around 3 kg.
That's one of the biggest, heaviest combinations, but the others
aren't a lot lighter. This is a camera you can use with roll film,
Polaroid pack film, Polaroid 4x5" sheet film, and conventional
"wet" 4x5" film. Everything is manual: shutter speeds
(1 sec to 1/500 sec), aperture setting, and focusing via a big, bright,
coupled, parallax compensated range/viewfinder. There's no automation
or batteries to get in the way: this is a purist's camera. It's
a real user, not something to stick on a shelf, and it has no real modern
Its simplicity and versatility, though, are only two of the three reasons why I like it so much. The other is that it delivers gorgeous quality on the rollfilm formats that I like to use--and I'm hoping to extend its versatility
The camera was based on the last generation of Mamiya Press, the Universal, though the lenses aren't interchangeable between the two cameras: the Mamiya lenses weren't designed to cover the 72x93mm of Polaroid quarter-plate pack film. In fact, if you can get hold of a Polaroid back for the Mamiya Press, you'll see that the corners vignette.
The interchangeable-lens 600
SE and its fixed-lens brother, the 600, were introduced some time in the
1970s and discontinued in the '90s: sufficiently recently that occasionally
brand-new 600s still surface at the back of dealers' cupboards.
It was an alarmingly expensive camera. It still is. A mint example can easily cost $700 with a standard 127mm f/4.7 lens, though equally, my last one was a real rat and cost me only $150 or so in about '95. They have gone up a fair bit since they were discontinued, and I have no plans to get rid of this one.