The Spectra is a cool looking analog camera. Since the 1980′s I’ve seen these but never really paid any attention to them. They have a unique optical system utilizing a 125mm f/10 quintic lens. The focal length equivalency is about about 43mm in the 35mm format. Like most Polaroids, you don’t have a ton of control over the exposure. The most important options at your disposal are: an exposure lighten/darken switch, a switch to toggle the flash on/off, an AF override switch to set focus to infinity, a self timer and a tripod mount.
The autofocusing feature on Spectras, and many other Polaroids, is done by sonar. When you press the shutter halfway, it emits an inaudible sound wave to measure the distance between the camera and what you’re shooting. It sends the sound waves out, the sound waves bounce back, and the distance is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder (there is a little switch to toggle between showing ft/m on the camera). There is an autofocus lock feature, in the sense that after you press the shutter halfway, you can hold the shutter and move your viewpoint to keep that particular distance focused.
Film used: Impossible Project PZ-680 (color) or PZ-600 (b&w)
Sonar Autofocus: 2 ft. – infinity
Lens: 125mm f/10 three element quintic lens
Shutter Speeds: 2.8 secs ~ 1/200 sec.
Flash: Most models have it (some can toggle on/off)
Exposure Compensation: Lighten/Darken Slider
Check out the Impossible Frog Tongue. If you don’t have one of these things, do yourself a favor, pick one up. These work exactly as designed. They fully protect the image from direct sunlight as the image ejects from the camera.
Opening the camera
Flipping open the film door
Autofocus lock at infinity switch
Toggle beep on/off
Flip switch to close camera
Parallax Error - When shooting close at 2-4 feet, keep in mind that image you’re seeing in the viewfinder isn’t exactly what you’re going to be recording onto your film. Because it’s next to the lens, parallax error occurs as a result.
Multiple Exposures – You can trick the camera into taking multiple exposures if you want to get a little funky. It’s simple. After you’ve pressed the shutter release button, keep holding it down and flip the front flap open on the camera. It switches the camera off and you can now safely release the shutter button without fear of it ejecting. Now, flip the flap back up and take another exposure. Repeat as many times as you’d like.
Protecting your film from ambient light – Some Spectra instant film is sensitive to ambient light when it first ejects from the camera. One way to protect your image can be done by utilizing a feature of the self-timer. After you’ve taken your shot, while holding down the shutter release button, flip the timer switch on. By switching the timer on, the camera holds the image inside until you’re ready to eject the image (flip the timer off), one of the features of the self timer. If you’re in bright sun, you can go over to a shady spot, eject it out into your camera bag or directly into a box. The more you protect your image from light with some films, the better.
How can we NOT promote this camera? The Spectra is durable, easy to operate and can take quality instant images.
© The Instant Film Society