Update September 2017: The Impossible Project has renamed itself ‘Polaroid Originals’ as part of a major rebranding effort. The film itself is still the same, so for our purposes in this article the Impossible Project and Polaroid Originals are the same. To clarify, ‘Polaroid Originals’ are the films and cameras developed by the Impossible Project, while just ‘Polaroid’ refers to the original instant film line that was discontinued in 2008.
One place you can often find Polaroid cameras like the CloseUp for cheap (besides your parents’ attic) is through eBay. Please use the following link when purchasing, it helps me keep writing and costs you nothing. Thanks! Find the Polaroid OneStep Closeup Camera on eBay.
You can also find refurbished Polaroid OneSteps at B&H.
From the eighties onward Polaroid sold millions of consumer 600 cameras that now, for the most part, sit in boxes and shelves unused. As a result, if you’re digging around garage sales or eBay the majority of cameras you will encounter will be plastic-y Polaroid 600 cameras like the Polaroid OneStep Closeup camera. Be careful not to confuse this 600 camera with the iconic white with rainbow sticker SX-70 Polaroid OneStep that was produced decades before since their names are so similar.
The Polaroid OneStep Closeup is a competent, if uninspiring camera. It has some nice features, such as being able to shut the front side to protect the lens when not in use and the ability to fire without flash. However, don’t go out of your way to pick up this model for its incompetent ‘closeup’ feature, it’s a lousy substitute for autofocus.
Since it is a 600 model camera, it works with expired Polaroid 600 film, as well as Polaroid Originals’ new 600 type film.
This camera features the familiar exposure compensation dial that is in nearly every Polaroid camera ever made. There’s no option to turn off the flash, which is maddening. This isn’t unusual by any means for Polaroid cameras, which is why I go out of my way to find cameras like the Polaroid Spectra System. The only way to work around the flash (which is awful for portraits and monochrome films) is to tape something over it. Use a few note cards or even your hand, but be warned, these flashes fire hot.
The shutter is on the side and is can be confused with a switch that opens up the film compartment. It works perfectly fine, just mash it down and take a picture. There’s no holding it down halfway to focus. Hold down the little sub-shutter to fire without using flash. I personally much prefer normal shutter buttons with flash switches, since I often shake the camera trying to fire side shutters.
The viewfinder is typical of Polaroid 600 cameras. It’s quite a bit off from what you’re actually going to get from the lens in the middle, and it is small and dim. There are no readouts in the viewfinder.
Lens, Autofocus, and Metering
The lens on this camera is perfectly serviceable, but don’t even bother with the ‘closeup’ lens feature. If you slide over the focusing dial to close up, a piece of plastic will appear in front of your lens. Unless you want everything to be blurry, this plastic is useless. Just keep the focus over to the mountain side and don’t bother with macro with this camera.
Unlike some older Polaroid cameras, it doesn’t focus through sonar. In fact, despite what I used to think earlier, it doesn’t autofocus at all. Typically this isn’t a problem, but it can create softer results than sonar autofocus cameras.
Metering seems fine, but the exposure compensation operates by covering up the meter with different amounts of opaque plastic. Ingenious, I guess.
Build quality is where this camera gets a chance to shine. Unlike many other Polaroid cameras, the front folds up and down, protecting the lens when the camera is not in use and preventing it from taking pictures while in a bag. There’s a little strap on the back, just enough to put the camera over one shoulder. I’ve dropped and beat mine up quite a bit, and it still works great.
You can certainly do worse than the Polaroid OneStep Closeup if you’re looking for a camera. I wouldn’t go out of my way to find one, but it’ll certainly work if you can get one easily or for cheap on eBay or at a garage sale. I grabbed mine for three dollars when I cleaned all the Polaroid cameras out of a used camera store. It has no special features, but works just as competently as any other Polaroid 600 camera.
Also, if you’re going to use Impossible Project film, be sure to tape a dark slide just above where the photos are ejected to protect them from light for the first few seconds of development. Otherwise, all your photos will simply be blown out by the sun. The first five seconds of development are the most crucial.
It’s always a good idea to have multiple cameras if you’re working with consumer grade 600 type Polaroid cameras. The rollers gum up quickly, and many just call it quits. This OneStep Closeup was my replacement for my parents’ Polaroid Impulse AF that had a bad roller. These cameras are so cheap and plentiful these days that you should be able to grab at least four or five for the price of a single pack of Impossible Project film.
Good luck and happy shooting! Find the Polaroid OneStep Closeup Camera on eBay.
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