instantphoto.eu              Mamiya Universal Polaroid

The best camera system for the professional use of Polaroid/Fuji Pack Film is undoubtedly the Mamiy Universal system. It is based on a well-known and popular photographer's model, the Mamiya Press. If you want more information about the whole system, I have made some pages here (link will open in a new window).

The Universal was a Super 23 model without the bellows and with a different, larger fixation for the backs, including a Polaroid Back. It was introduced in 1969. Because of the larger size of the Polaroid films new lenses were necessary. The 100mm standard was replaced by the 127mm, both lenses have an excellent reputation. The 65mm wide-angle got a 75mm sister. The 150mm was 
usable without changes for the larger format. FYI: the 50mm and the 65mm lenses show some vignetting in Pola format, as the 100mm 1: 2.8, whereas the 100mm 1: 3.5 can be o.k. (I own 3 of them), but there are also reports of a slight vignetting. All lenses are fully synchronized up to 1/500 sec.

The Polaroid 600SE was subsidized by the Polaroid company, as already some other model before. They hoped for ample film sales to professionals. In the early 80s the 600SE and it's accessories were about half the Mamiya prices
in Germany. In order not to ruin the Mamiya-market and not to subsidize non-Polaroid photographers, the two systems were made ​​incompatible. Neither the lens fixation nor the back connection fit to one another. And no, a simple exchange of the "claws" for the backs does not work (see Do-It-Yourself pages). Not even the handle is the same, the one of the 600SE it is firmly attached. After all, later there was an adapter for the Mamiya roll film backs, not subsidized of course, extra-expensive and very rare. There is a page about the Polaroid 600SE here (link opens in a new window).

There was also a model Polaroid 600 (a very unfortunate name, as there are the 600 series cameras for integral film) with fixed-mounted 127mm lens. This was significantly cheaper.

Some photos of a rough Mamiya Universal with Polaroid Back:

A Mamiya Univeral with Polaroid back attached. The standard lenses for Polaroid are the 75mm, the 127mm and the 150mm. This 100mm covers the Polaroid formaat, but not all 100mm will do so.

Back view.

Right side. Dark slide.

Seen from above. Camera has a bubble level

Left side with grip socket and Polaroid film exit.

Bottom side.

The Polaroid size ground glass. It is used to determine the exact focussing and framing.

Hood open..

The hood taken off. There are lines for 6x9 format and indications for 6x7.

There were special beam-splitters and masked backs for professional portrait and passport photographers. If you want more information about this, it's at the bottom ot the lens page, which you will find here (link opens in a new window).

As Polaroid peel-apart film isn't produced any longer and even Fuji ended the production of its pack 100 film, there are only 2 solutions for instant photography with a Mamiya Universal: Polaroid 600 film or Fuji Instax. I have made a back for Polaroid 600 film, but it has a major snag:
the picture is double inversed (top-bottom, left-right) as there is no mirror. Polaroid cameras have a mirror between the lens and the photo. You can see this back here. The link opens in a new window.

I had a back made from the Lomo Instax back for a Lomo Belair, you can see it here (link opens in a new window). It worked fine. I would still prefer a motorized back. There was a Kickstarter project from Rezivot which did not ge through. That's a real pity. If you hear about a motorized Instax solution, please let me know.

Meanwhile the Lomo Belair back isn't available any more. But there is a new Instax back with major improvements: it has a dark slide and with some modification of the viewer, it can eject towards the top. You can see this back here (link opens in a new window).