The nec plus ultra of professional Polaroid cameras is undoubtedly
the 600SE. It is based on a well-known and popular photographer's
model, the Mamiya Universal/Press.
The Mamiya Press was - as the name suggests - a very popular press
photographer's camera for the 6x7 and 6x9 format, with a large, coupled
and reliable view/rangefinder. There were lenses from a 50mm super
wide-angle (equivalent to 25mm with 24x36mm film) to the large and
heavy 250mm telephoto lens (123mm equivalent). Since the Press camera
had built-in bellows for compensation of converging lines, there wee
also a ground glass and sheet film magazines available. The Universal
was a Press model without the bellows and with a different, larger
fixation for the backs, including a Polaroid Back. Because of the
larger size 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.
was also a model 600 (a very unfortunate name, as there are the 600
series cameras for integral film) with fixed-mounted 127mm lens. This
was significantly cheaper.
Here's the Polaroid 600SE system:
complete system, body, Pola-back, the 3 lenses with the viewfinder for
the 75mm, the rare adapter and a Mamiya roll film back. On the picture
not visible is the viewfinder mask for the roll film.
Body, back side.
Back for Polaroid 100 pack film.
Pola back with dark-slide and the "Pola claws", with a slit.
127mm standard lens.
127mm, back side.
Complete system with standard lens.
Seen from above.
Left side with grip/trigger.
75mm and its viewfinder. Focussing is done with the normal coupled
rangefinder, the viewfinder is used to determine the exact framing.
75mm and viewer, back side.
The system with the 75mm and it's finder.
The 150mm lens.
adapter for using a Mamiya roll film back, a Mamiya roll film back in
6x9 format, famous for the fact that it holds the film absolutely flat,
and the adapter for cropping the 6x7 and 6x9 format in the viewfinder
Whether one buys the Polaroid system or the Mamiya
system is most likely a question of price. The Mamiya system is more
versatile. Some lenses are very expensive. If you want to work with
roll film, the Mamiya system is preferable, unless
you get the adapter at a low price. It can easily reach the price of a
whole camera. In any case, the purchase of a complete system is often