Polaroid 900 Electric Eye

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Polaroid 900 Electric Eye

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I collect cameras, with one exception – Polaroids. They do indeed take pictures but have no soul. Everywhere you look, they are there. On camera store shelves, on eBay listings, in market stalls. I long gave up making sense of them as they all look alike, with naming convention is a jumble of the same terms and numbers used haphazardly. The Same cameras appear under different names, a feat second only to Kodak that uses alphabet soup in naming the models.

I am not sure how many Polaroids were made, for sure tens of millions. At this moment, there are 89,000 cameras offered on eBay. I do not believe any other industrial product comes close. Perhaps there was a US law requiring every adult to own one; else, I have no explanation.

I never purchased any. Yet, I have a shelf full. I got some with lots I bought or given to me by good souls who knew I collect cameras.

Last week I did deviate from my Polaroid rejection. Saw one in a thrift store sitting on a briefcase. The case was full of accessories, filters, meters, and whatnot. So, I took the lot for $25. Most turned to be junk. The camera, however, surprised me, not in a good way.

  • The camera is enormous. I wonder what the designers thought when they saw the prototype. It is way oversize when closed and twice of that when opened. See below an image of it together with a TLR. It was made in 1960 when fully featured mainstream-sized cameras like the Leica M series were a quarter of this size.
  • It is Heavy. Very heavy, 2.550 gr, or over lbs 5.5. A notoriously heavy Medalist weighs less than half of that. I cannot see how a mortal can hold this heft and focus, other than using a tripod or named Arnold.
  • It is supposed to be automatic, if you call manual settings auto. There are no shutter speeds or aperture values to select, just settings such as bright or dark day and so.
  • It is confusing, at least to me. I could not find the shutter trigger. The manual says to squeeze it, but I needed to find it first. Thanks to the elaborate instructions printed on the camera’s back, I found it disguised as an opening latch. I added below an image marked with the camera’s quirks for the next user benefit.
  • The manual is lacking. The only helpful information is printed on the camera’s back, as stated above.
  • There is a flashgun and a baby flash, or so I thought. What looks like a flashgun is a plain flashlight/torchlight, depending on where you are. The baby flash is what fires.

There is no practical way to try it and no value in selling it. It went to the shelf, taking space of prettier cameras.


List number 24682
Brand Polaroid
Format Polaroid roll media
Model 900 Electric Eye
Introduced 1960
Country USA
Type Instant, rangefinder
Body material Metal
Mode Auto / manual
Weight 2,550 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight gr,  Body with lens
ASA range 50-6000
Kit lens
Lens mount Fixed lens
shutter Meniscus
Light meter None
Winder Lever
Lock No
DOF preview No
Exposure lock No
Exposure compensation No
Shoe Hot
External sync No
Sync speed NA
Timer No
Battery style Proprietary
Battery voltage 1.3V
Integral flash None





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