Friday, April 5, 2013

The (Rare) Polaroid 185 Land Camera

Land Cameras were instant film cameras created in 1947 by scientist and Polaroid founder, Edwin Land. Although the idea of self-developing film was not new at the time, it was Edwin Land’s innovation in photography and optics that popularized the modern instant camera and made Polaroid a household name.

The Polaroid 185 Land Camera is one of the more rare cameras produced by Polaroid, and part of their professional series of folding pack film cameras. Not to be confused with the limited edition Model 185 manufactured by Polaroid Japan in 2000, the original 185 Land Camera was released in the 1960s.  Polaroid also produced the superficially similar 180, 190, and 195 professional folding cameras around the same time period as the 185, but they are not as scarce. 

One of the factors contributing to the rare nature of the 185 Land Camera is the presumption that Polaroid never released the camera for sale to the general public. Many camera historians and collectors believe the camera was created specifically as gifts for the relatives, friends, and business associates of Edwin Land.

According to McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, approximately 30 of the original Polaroid 185 cameras were manufactured. However, there is speculation amongst camera historians and collectors that the actual number of 185 Land Cameras in existence is in the range of 50 to 200. Despite an official production quantity, the undeniable rarity of the camera coupled with the scarcity of available information adds to the elusive nature of the 185 Land Camera.

The Polaroid 185 Land Camera features a Mamiya 114mm f5.6 lens, a Copal mechanical leaf shutter, and a Zeiss Ikon single window viewfinder/rangefinder. The camera also has manual exposure capabilities, folding bellows, and a built-in coupled CdS exposure meter. Unlike other similarly designed Land Cameras that included a flat case, the protective shell for the 185 was specifically designed to fit securely around the Mamiya lens. The Polaroid 185 Land Camera also utilizes 100-series peel-apart pack film.   

The faster glass lenses, mechanical leaf shutters, and manual exposure capabilities all attribute to the noteworthy quality of the professional series Land Cameras. Those qualities, paired with the rarity of the 185 Land Camera, make it a truly coveted model for Polaroid collectors and enthusiasts.
  

We currently have one of these cameras (with the front cover) available for sale in EX+ condition. Click HERE to view the Polaroid 185 Land Camera on the KEH Camera website.

In addition to selling rare and collectible items, we love to BUY them too! If you have any rare or collectible cameras or other photographic equipment that you would like to sell to us, please email us at purchasing@keh.com, or give us a call at (770) 333-4220 or (800) 342-5534.
~L.M.

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