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February 20, 2012

Restoration And Conversion Of A Vintage Polaroid Land Camera

By RetroRuth

Well, this post is for anyone who figured out the hint in my recent teaser post for The Mid-Century Menu! The black and white un-Photoshopped picture at the bottom of the post was taken with this camera:


A vintage Polaroid Land Camera 103. This camera belonged to Tom’s grandparents, and he recently decided that he wanted to do a little restoration on it and see if he could get it working again.

The first thing we did was give the poor little thing a good dusting, since it had been sitting out as a display item for quite a long time before we figured out that film for this camera was still available.



Fujifilm FP-100C, FB-100B and FB-3000B can easily be bought online if your local camera store doesn’t carry them. We bought ours on Amazon and received it in the mail a couple of days later!


As part of your cleaning, be sure that you open the film door and give the rollers in the back a good rub down as well, especially if they are corroded. These spread the developer on the film, and if they don’t work properly your photos will end up all spotty.

So, the first thing that you will notice if you have an old Land Camera that you have tried to get working, is that it takes 3 volt batteries!


Well, that isn’t happening. Luckily, we were able to find this awesome video by nerdish on YouTube that shows step-by-step how to convert the 3 volt battery configuration to AAA batteries.


We picked up a 2 AAA battery holder with wires from our local Radio Shack (they just had it in stock and it cost $1.99) and started the conversion.  Tom used his wire cutters to snip off the old battery leads:


And then he shortened and stripped the wires on the AAA holder:


And then it was just a matter of connecting them to the correct wires!


We ended up wrapping the ends with electrical tape, which worked just fine for now, but if you want to you can also solder the wires.

Another quick note is that we cut out the previous plastic prongs that held the old batteries in place so there would be enough room to tuck the AAA holder behind the door.

Test that your new connection by seeing if the shutter works.  Push down the white “3” lever next to the lens.


Then press the red “2” button.


If you hear a “click” and the button pops up, you did it right!

Then we got to load our camera with the film we bought, which was nerdily exciting.


Load the film in so that the little arrows point out. Make sure you keep a hold of the flap with the arrows as you close the back.


Pull on the little arrows to remove the protective covering from the film.

Now you are finally read to take some pictures!!!


First thing you have to do is decide what you want to take a picture of.

Take your shot and reset the shutter on the camera. P-u-l-l your film out slowly, and keep it upright while counting to 15. Then peel and enjoy your photo!


The next thing you have to do is clean off furniture, like side tables, which have accumulated things (like excesses vintage/retro lighting) so that the people who read your blog don’t think you live like a slob.

Then run around your house taking pictures of people and unsuspecting cats until you run out of film.

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14 Responses to Restoration And Conversion Of A Vintage Polaroid Land Camera

  1. ae Reply

    February 20, 2012 at 10:13 am


    • RetroRuth Reply

      February 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Turned out pretty neat, huh? I love it!

  2. Sara In AZ Reply

    February 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    You go Tom and Ruth!!! Look at y’all fixing up that old camera! Amazing! It looks like SO much fun to use too. I’m going to have to find one of these now for Mike to fix up, shhhhhhh don’t tell him though! 🙂

    • RetroRuth Reply

      February 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      It is a blast! Can’t wait to show you. 😉

  3. Andrea Reply

    February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Ooooh, too cool! That’s awesome that you can still get film for it, wow!

    • RetroRuth Reply

      February 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Thanks, Andrea! I know, we were shocked we could still get film!

  4. Toni Reply

    February 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Neat looking pics! Off topic, I dreamed I got 2 vintage jello cookbooks from my mom last night, & was eagerly looking for a jello recipe to make for your website! I think I might spend too much time on mid century menu & no pattern required.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      February 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks, Toni! Ha ha – you can never spend too much time here because we love you. 🙂 Anytime you want to make something Jell-O based for me to post, feel free!

  5. Susie Reply

    February 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    THANK YOU! What a wonderful post. I have so many old cameras given to me, or trifled and this is great to see that someone has given one life again and not just putting it away on a shelf. Lovely!

  6. Betty Crafter Reply

    February 21, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Awesome! GREAT post. I have an old Polaroid Land Camera like that but sadly it takes the roll film, not the pack, and to my understanding you cant’ get that anymore. Sad. But happy for you!

  7. Vickie Reply

    February 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Well wow, aren’t you just the mechanical GENIUS! I’m in awe, and I thought I was so smart recently learning how to put a new plug on an old vintage cord :- ) Great job & what fun black & white pics. BTW – your house looks GREAT!

  8. Pingback: Having a Blast Taking Pictures in Las Vegas With A Vintage Polaroid Land Camera | No Pattern Required

    • RetroRuth Reply

      August 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Jessica! It sounds like you have a slightly different model, but as long as your camera is functional when you put a battery in it you can just give it a good cleaning and load up your film and you should be able to take pictures straight away.

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