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Having gone through most of a pack of film now, I have a better idea of the kind of results to expect from the bargain Polaroid Swinger camera that I picked up recently. As I mentioned in that post, the camera has a “setting” for 75 and 3000 speed film, but all this really does is change the aperture from around f/9.2 to around f/64. The photocell on the front will always set the automatic shutter to the same exposure time for given lighting, regardless of the speed selection.

Sleepy morning aviary

I found this means that unless you’re photographing a brightly lit scene, this tends to mean fairly long exposures – and unfortunately a bit too long for hand-held exposures, which is a slightly odd experience when shooting ISO 3000 film. But I guess no one shoots instant film with a camera like this for high fidelity results, and I think I could get used to it. In this shot my pre-first-coffee-of-the-day unsteadiness seems to have matched the shape of the leaves of the bamboos surrounding the old aviary at Hursley. This is the kind of providential effect that I have often read about as one of the things that makes shooting Polaroids so much fun, and I think I’m starting to agree.

So I can get used to the slow shutter speeds – after all, I can always use a tripod. What is more annoying about the 3000 setting using f/64 is the effect it has on depth of field. DOFMaster tells me that the hyperfocal distance is roughly 3 metres with a near limit around 1.5 metres. Obviously this isn’t going to be an issue shooting at 75, but since all I have to test the camera at present if a pack of FP-3000B it’s a bit limiting, with no way to tell what an out of focus background looks like wide open. So I had a root around and found my Lee Filters lighting gel sample book, took a ND1 and ND4 filter and taped them together top make a rough and ready ND5, just the right size. This is just the right factor to shoot ISO3000 film as if it is ISO75, and see how the camera performs “wide” open.

spiralling down

As you can see from the second shot here, it works, and gives a pleasant enough blur to the background. Overall it’s a little soft, but that is probably the combination of plastic lens, slow shutter and inaccurate focus due to lack of any range-finding device. Actually I think the viewfinder is the biggest obstacle to getting reliable results since almost every other camera I’ve used in the last 5 years has either been through-the-lens or at least had a coupled range-finder, so I either need some practice estimating distances or need to lug along one of my SLRs with a decent distance scale as a measuring device.

Overall for a £3.50 camera I think it’ll work out pretty well. My plan now is to get hold of some different types of film, maybe taking a punt on whatever expired stuff I can get hold of cheap from e-bay as well as stocking up on some more reliable Fuji packs.