Why are Polaroids always thrown in with toy cameras?

Discussion in 'Instant Cameras, Backs and Film' started by MDR, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. MDR

    MDR Member

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    The title of the threads says it all. Polaroids have been used by pros pretty much since the beginning of Polaroid, many famous, not so famous and downright infamous artists have worked with Polaroid materials and cameras yet it seems as if Polaroid and instant photography is not being taken seriously by a lot of amateurs and some pros and internet fora and I wonder why that is.
     
  2. momus

    momus Member

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    It's hard to work w/ a medium that is not archival. Not sure if that's your answer though. A lot of people, including Warhol, used Polaroids, but as proofs, not as a final image. I suspect that the people marketing instant cameras and film play up the fun aspect these days, and it is fun. But the use of non archival mediums is problematic for serious artists/photographers, for obvious reasons.
     
  3. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Let me count the reasons

    There are a lot of Polaroid formats and many people feel nobody makes film for their camera -- rightly or wrongly.
    There is a feeling in the pro photography community -- rightly or wrongly -- that some famed Polaroid "artists" are pulling a con and don't deserve the praise. There are people who feel that digital has taken the place of Polaroid, rightly or wrongly. The Polaroid company went belly up, making a lot of people unhappy. Some Polaroid cameras were cheap and people do not value cheaply made items for the most part. Most pro photographers used Polaroid -- if at all -- for test shots and never thought Polaroid was a "serious"camera -- rightly or wrongly. Polaroid cameras ain't Leicas. Some Polaroid models were awkward-looking and -shooting. Polaroids don't get no respect, rightly or wrongly.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    they shouldn't be considered toys,
    but they are fun,
    i wish i had a joy cam !
     
  5. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I have a Polaroid back from NPC for my Mamiya RB67 medium format film camera. Although not a Polaroid camera, the film was (is?) well, Fuji anyway. Back when, these backs were used all the time by pros for testing shots, lighting, exposure, composition, etc, before switching to film backs and committing to shooting film shots.
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But none of these points are a reason to call them toys.
     
  7. AgX

    AgX Member

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    In addition, the term toy camera is no standard term in Germany.

    It makes me think of those nonfunctional cameras for small children. Or those working Fisher-Price models.
     
  8. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    The idea of separating the two into their own subforums came up a few years ago...
     
  9. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary- Toy: something that an adult buys or uses for enjoyment or entertainment
    Maybe all of our cameras are toys.
     
  10. miha

    miha Member

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  11. MDR

    MDR Member

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    That Polaroid was used as proofs is a proof that it is a pro tool, furthermore Polaroid materials were used for forensic photography, passport photography, Scientific photography (many Scanning microscopes used Polaroid), this indicates at least to me that Polaroid was a serious tool and not a toy.
    Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Joyce Tenneson (prefered Polaroid for a long time) and Paolo Roversi (mostly used Polaroid) are some of the big name artists who used Polaroids for more than just a gimmick.
    Regarding the Leica it's considered by many a rich men's toy, before WWII only the rich could afford a Leica and it was not really considered a pro camera far from it in fact. The SX70 Alpha is a superb camera the Polarid Sonar system was lightyears ahead of many other camera mfg. so far from at toy it's also very durable.

    Is it maybe that the Toy camera moniker is used for things that are different than the norm or what most people use. It can't be a serious tool or I would use it and so would the majority of people.
     
  12. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some folks prefer "lo-fi" cameras as a more accurate definition to describe cameras that have limited controls for exposure and a plastic lens, and the Polaroid cameras that spit out the picture like the could probably be described as "lo-fi" in that they have somewhat limited exposure controls, but I'm not sure it the lenses are necessarily plastic. Of course, all my cameras are toys to me!!
     
  13. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Thank you Suzanne Lo-fi sounds better though this isn't true either I have to admit I always hated the toy camera moniker not only for Polaroids but also Holgas and the like. I also agree that all cameras can be considered toys for personal enjoyment. Polaroids have shortcomings so do Holgas Dianas and the like but in the right hands they are absolutely not toys (aside from personal enjoyment and for fondling purposes) but pro tools same applies to every Nikon, Canon and Leica ever made. I personaly always thought that the picture counts in photography not the camera name or the camera's limitations. The Big Polaroids (20x24) are big toys with manual control :smile:
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    If a toy camera would be a camera typically not used for commercial photography nor for snaps but just just for the fun of using it, then practically all film cameras fall under this definition...
     
  16. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Danke Agx that's exactly what I mean. There is no such thing as a toy camera (aside from non working plastic toys and probs for children) or every camera is a toy camera.
     
  17. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Let me say this another way. Millions of people believe Polaroid camera are toys -- rightly or wrongly. Personally, I have to wonder what makes a camera a "toy." I have a photograph I took of an old fashioned steam engine, pouring out tons of black smoke and looking like it is going 90 miles an hour. I took this photo in 1947 when I was a nipper with a cheap Brownie Reflex camera. A toy? The camera has one slow shutter speed but I got the shot as the locomotive was trying to get up speed but was barely moving. It is a fine photo and was not made by a toy. I suggest you not worry about what others think and enjoy the things you enjoy.
     
  18. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Being considered a toy isn't a bad thing. All my cameras are toys. A tool is something that does the job adequately. A toy is something that does the job way better than necessary and cost way more than a tool.
     
  19. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    this is a bit of a red herring.

    Art does not have to be archival. The ephemeral can be art. There is nothing inherently permanent about photographs, any more than a painting or a sculpture is inherently permanent. It is an accident of the media involved in photography that makes it possible to make some of the resultant pictures "archival".
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've always thought we should split them into separate subforums myself. Suzanne is right that there is overlap in the categories among users looking to make "lo-fi" images, but that seems to me just one a segment of instant imaging, maybe an increasing segment as the medium has been winding down. I used to love Type 809 for its unique color palette until it just got too expensive to shoot, and that was hardly a toy or lo-fi medium.

    I have seen Instax cameras "in the wild" recently where people were using them unironically to make snapshots that they wanted instantly as prints. With printing stations at copy shops, drugstores, and such, it's not too hard for an ordinary consumer to enlarge these or scan them for family and friends.
     
  21. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I'm not bothered with the terminology used to describe a specific camera. I am bothered when I read that cheap cameras can't produce compelling images, or that you need a Leica to produce quality photographs.
    The differences between a "toy" and a "real" camera are completely dependent on the hands they're held in.
     
  22. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Toy camera implies cheaply made and usually, though not always, comes with a certain aesthetic. I prefer lo-fi appearance in a more reliable body, so tend to favour older folding cameras for the same role. The name toy derives from the fact many were originally aimed at children, and have play value but not high expectancy of a long life, which can be a problem if you're relying on one.

    Polaroid probably gets lumped in with toy because the resulting print is small and 'toy-like'.
     
  23. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    To me, a toy camera is one made specifically for children. It can be cheap or expensive. On the other hand, my best friend had a "child's" 110 when she was young, and it was merely a shell around an average 110 camera.

    I never considered a Polaroid a toy - just a different kind of camera for various different purposes. For example, my father was in real estate, and often used Polaroids to take pictures of houses for sale. Not fine photography, but not toying by any means.

    I've an Holga, and while I'll call it my "toy" camera, I don't consider it a toy. It was cheap, so I bought it to see if I liked medium format; I still use it from time to time for it's unique qualities.
     
  24. 1L6E6VHF

    1L6E6VHF Member

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    I don't think I can agree that Polaroid film images are "non-archival".

    I have many Polaroid prints that are 40+ years old and still have most of the contrast from their original shot. Oddly the Color images have held up the best - the sliver-transfer B&W (e.g. Types 42, 107 - coating necessary) have done fairly well, too. I wouldn't claim they have the permanence of Kodachrome, but I would say much better than Anscochrome. The dye-transfer B&W types (20C, 87, 667) have not fared as well, but can be used for full-contrast images by digital scanning and resetting the levels.

    I find the main shortfall of Land imaging to be sharpness. The dye-transfer process limits the sharpness in the print to about 10 lp/mm (the silver-transfer was sharper, resulting in nice images from type 42, but Polaroid never made any "type 102" film)

    Note that the resolution on the final print remained <10 lp/mm regardless of format. The I-Zone produced tiny images that would render a complete blur when enlarged to snapshot size (and thus the I-Zone was a working toy camera if there ever was one). Polaroid once made a 20"x24" camera that produced superb images- as the resolution still approached 10 lp/mm - great when the end result was 20"x24" (about 50x60cm).
     
  25. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    Would not some of the attitude come from the fact that when you say Polaroid to most people, they think flip-up flash/plastic lensed 600 and not an SLR 680 or folding SX70, similarly with peel-apart: Auto 210 and not the 195?
     
  26. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I'm sure the Swinger prints are still good today, if they used the coating stick. I miss that smell. Swingers were neat. My Sister got one in 65. for Christmas. I didn't get a Colorpack II till about 69. But that Swinger was neat. Turn it till is said YES,and it worked like a charm.