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Polaroid Big Shot

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The Big Shot was one of the most unique cameras Polaroid ever introduced. It is a rigid-bodied model that dwarfs others in the series. Released in 1971 and produced until 1973, it was designed for portrait use only, and had a fixed focal distance of a few feet. It had a 220mm lens, a single-speed mechanical shutter, and a fixed-focus rangefinder to help the photographer keep the subject in focus. Above the body is a flash diffuser; it diffuses the light from the flash to soften shadows cast when taking the picture.

Because the camera itself is fixed-focus, the photographer has to move back and forth until the subject appears in focus. This technique has been called the "Big Shot Shuffle." The Big Shot also requires the use of MagiCube type flash cubes to take properly-exposed pictures and requires no batteries; the mechanical shutter is timed to interact with the flash cubes to (theoretically) provide the correct amount of light every time - though it also includes the Polaroid standard lighten/darken exposure controls around the lens. It should be loaded with ASA 75-100 Packfilms (100-series) to achieve good results. The camera's spreader bar, whose design freqently fouls (after repeated use) with debris, can be easily swapped out for the more advanced stainless steel roller assembly found in the Polaroid Colorpack series consumer cameras. Both the spreader bar assembly and stainless steel roller assembly are easily removed for cleaning of chemical residue. This same stainless steel roller bar assembly is also used in a lot of the commercial Polaroid cameras.

Famed artist Andy Warhol was purportedly fond of this camera in particular, and today it has a cult status among Polaroid cameras for its eccentricity. The quality of the portraits is striking, and it is possible to do shots of couples, if they will squeeze their heads together, ear to ear.


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