Friday, January 25, 2019

Giving your Polaroid 600SE super powers, or maximizing the view!

I have been doing a lot with my 600SE lately. It is a wonderful camera to shoot pack film with- I like the heft, it has a bright viewfinder, and a clear Mamiya lens. It is a twin to the Mamiya Press or Mamiya Universal. There are but two noticeable differences. One is that it gives you a full view shot on pack film, while there is some vignetting with the Mamiya Universal. The 600SE has a larger., more open lens mount. The other difference is that the Universal, true to it's name, can have lots of different lenses and lots of different backs. The Polaroid takes three lenses(two of the three are rare and expensive) and it is only really designed for one back! There is an adapter that Mamiya made so you could use roll backs on the 600SE(also very expensive and rare) but I don't have one.
Everything about this camera is more expensive, but I refuse to solve these issues with money. I am way too cheap. Instead, I will just see this as a fun maker challenge. So far I have: modified a Mamiya 6x9 rollfilm back that allows it to shoot 120, made a ground glass with full view so I can dial in the focus, made a blank back so I can cut and experiment with it to add unconventional film types to it, and created and tested a cb-70 back for it. I am just getting started- this is fun!
While testing the cb-70, I discovered a limitation. Part of the internal metal in the camera gets in the way of a full view, and cuts part of the image off. I decided to give this particular 600SE superpowers! This camera will have the absolute, edge to edge, 4 inch by 4 inch full view. I am taking this grand old camera from the world of medium format to large format!
With nothing more than a dremel tool, cutting wheel, a metal file, and some black acrylic paint, I made this camera ready for anything I could throw at it! This is an extremely easy project and it would be hard to do any real damage to the camera doing this- so hack away!
It is pretty simple. See the areas I highlighted in the pictures? Just trim away this metal. The bottom metal does not have to be exact- just more than “. The top, though, needs to be “ exactly so it gives enough clearance while not trimming off a metal lens stop located on the back side.
I made a mark using a silver sharpie so it would be visible on the black metal. Then I stuffed the body with plastic bags to keep the metal bits out of the body. I dremeled using a metal cutting wheel, and when I was done I cleaned up the lines with a metal file. Once I got everything fairly clean looking, I dumped the bags full of metal shavings in the trash and air cleaned the inside of the camera of any remaining shards. Then I painted the exposed metal areas with black acrylic craft paint.
See? I told you it was easy!!

Though the Goose has a wide view with no vignetting, the top to bottom view is blocked by these bits of extra metal. 
I made a mark with a silver sharpie to remove the offending metal.

I cut it away with a "Dremel" metal cutting wheel, and finished it with a file. Note that I covered the viewfinder lens with tape and shoved a Kroger bag in the camera to catch the metal shavings. Mask it better than I did- some bits still found their way into the cavity!

When cutting the top metal out it is really just a shave, because you don't want to harm the post that holds your viewfinder arm.

And finally,  paint the filed metal with acrylic paint. I tested this with my full view ground glass and it absolutely gives you a full 4x4 view!
Now we get the full dog!