Saturday, May 18, 2019

Shooting 600 with your 600, or Mamiya Universal Press and Polaroid 600SE get a CB-70 back!

Remember, the CB-70 prints backward!

The Polaroid 600SE and Mamiya Universal Press are wonderful cameras of another age. Born in the 60s, and revamped for Polaroid in 1978, the Mamiya Universal Press has to be looked at in a different context in the post-digital era.
In the eighties and nineties, cameras were about features and portability. The 35mm SLR in all its forms was king. Designed with a complexity that rivaled the finest clocks and watches, they were engineering marvels.
When the dust settled after digital blew up photography, the remaining analog film buffs and new film aficionados made up a new society of photographers that looked nothing like the 90s version. The new value system gave a higher roll to medium and large format photography. Ancient versions of photography that had been all but forgotten, like wet plate collodion, saw a tremendous resurgence. Instant photography, which arguably is closest to digital in its nature, started to represent a much bigger proportion of analog photography’s comeback than the ubiquitous 35mm camera.
I don’t profess to know why things have shaken down the way they have, but I think it has a lot to do with the medium shifting from a consumer/ professional product to an artsy, niche product. As an artist, I see all manner of ancient reproduction media only in use by artists. One of my favorite media to work in is intaglio printmaking(think plates etched like the drawings on the dollar bill). There is no logical reason to still make intaglio prints- that technology was surpassed years ago. But some things aren’t about logic.
The popular cameras of today, from the revival of most of the Polaroid cameras, the explosion of Instax cameras, the re-issue of Diana and Holga cameras, to the resurgence of boxy press cameras like the Mamiya Universal and Graflex Speed Graphic is arguably popular because they are low tech and simple. As artists and creatives, we like understanding our equipment and manipulating our images in very direct ways.
As such, many of us have taken to combining different camera parts to create whole new cameras! Polaroid conversions will combine pack film camera bodies with fully manual lenses, while there is a whole industry around converting Polaroid 110 roll film cameras to pack film and Instax Wide backs.
Arguably one of the most sought after conversions is adding a CB-70 back to your Mamiya Universal or Polaroid 600SE. It immediately makes your camera capable of shooting Polaroid 600 and Polaroid SX-70 film! I recently designed and started making the back to adapt the CB-70 directly to the camera with no more than a dollar tube of glue.
This is all you will need!
This may be the shortest tutorial I will give because the process is so simple. I print the backs in either horizontal or vertical orientation. Vertical orientation has traditionally been the most popular, but I really like the way horizontal looks. The board is designed to exactly match up with the cutouts on the CB-70. Once you dry fit your board to the CB-70, prep your board by masking over the wires and take up hook. Before you glue, test your CB-70 for functionality.
You can opt out of covering your wiring, but do cover the take-up hook when you glue it!
Line it up carefully and press it together.
In the past I have used Fix-All Adhesive Super Glue Gel I got from the dollar tree, and it worked perfectly. Do not use a runny glue, or it can drip into the cavities, making your back inoperable. I put a heavy bead of it all around the CB-70 photo window, then smoothed it down with my finger(don’t do that- it is probably toxic!). When pressing it together, I used a q tip to remove the excess that squeezed out the sides. I then let it cure for 24 hours. Though it is strong enough to use after 24 hours, it is not fully cured for about a week(sadly you will smell it!).
Note: After it had fully cured I wanted to see how strong the bond was. I pried as hard as I could short of ripping it in half and the bond held! In the end, the only way to remove it was to carefully slip a super sharp utility knife in all around and even that took the better part of a half an hour! As you can tell, I highly recommend going this route.
The final touch is you can paint the edge of the film frame with a small bottle of black craft paint so there won’t be any light leaks. If you don’t have any black paint, you can use black electric tape.
Now get out there and shoot!
PS, Please read my blog on opening up the interior of your camera- you don’t have to, but it is easy:
PPS, My  CB-70 to Mamiya Universal Press or Polaroid 600SE are available here:

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