The Conversion: Polaroid roll-film camera becomes 4×5 snapshot camera

The Conversion: Polaroid roll-film camera becomes 4×5 snapshot camera


A friendly soul emailed me today to ask if I knew how to convert her Canon 30D into an infrared camera. I haven’t the foggiest, but I’m going to do some reseach. In any case, this got me thinking about camera conversions, which I think could be an interesting regular feature.

Something I HAVE heard about, and has always intrigued me, has been the conversion of  the old Polaroid roll-film cameras into 4×5 rangefinder cameras. The point of this is to effectively create a large format snapshot camera, which is rad.

The camera generally used is the Pathfinder 110A or the Pathfinder 110B.These cameras were produced in the late fifties and early sixties, and originally retailed for about $170. The best thing about them was the fast and sharp lens: the 127mm f/4.7 Rodenstock Ysarex. They are also set to expose the film fully manually, giving the photographer complete control. However, when roll-film went out of production, they were rendered essentially useless.

But a few brave souls started converting these cameras decades ago to accept standard 4×5 film backs, ready-load holders, or Polaroid and Fuji 4×5 pack film adapters. Most notably, perhaps, was William Littman, who started making the Littman 45 Single decades ago. He was profiled in American Photo a few years ago, which had Bruce Weber shoot a few images with the camera. Here’s one.

photo by Bruce Weber

Littman is known as a master craftsman, but as with a Cadillac dealer, he charges the big bucks. There are others who can craft these puppies for you, or you could do it yourself, you lazy bum! Or you can go online and geek out about it. Either way, get yourself some Fuji film, because Polaroid pack film is gone baby gone.

Anyone out there have a converted Pathfinder? Send in sample images!

UPDATE: Robert Schneider sent in an image, and says: “I just found a 110B that had been modified for pack film by Four
.  They’re out of the Pola conversion biz, but they used to do a
beautiful job. I’m still at the goofing around stage, but it’s a wonderful camera to use. The person I bought it from even threw in some Type 665 P/N film — the holy grail!”


UPDATE 2: Noah Kalina sent this over.

3: Peter Taylor: “I’ve been using one of those converted polaroid 110’s for a while.
well, I was. I stocked up on some type 55, (or is it 65) the BW  P/N
pack film. We”ll see how long it stores.”
I love a cactus.

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There are 17 comments for this article
  1. Freedom from Littman at 9:54 am

    Littman DOES NOT make his own cameras, he just owns the “laffable patents” on 4×5 conversions of Polaroid rollfilm cameras. Google his name and find many threads where he went completely insane and showed his true colors. Stick with 3×4 packfilm and you cant go wrong. A completely free and useful resource on modding/converting polaroid cameras:

  2. Dan Mar at 2:53 am

    making a digital infered is a simple concept , you only need to remove the protective film they put on the sensor to block the IR waves and then place an IR filter on or over the lens to block alll light but IR. the true master can convert the flash to IR so that one can use the camera in the dark and not give away the photographers presence. Also i want to make a 4×5 from my 150 i just aquired, i am very handy with tools and very poor , i go to school for engineering and the school has a machinist program and if somone can get me dimentions on the back i would need to have made i might be able to have the students in the shop make it for me on the CNC router. i think the back would be the most expensive part

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