Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 Land Camera

After buying a box of old cameras at an auction for $13, I found that I had two original Polaroid Swinger Model 20 cameras. Doing some research and learning about them, it peaked my interest in these boxy-rigid-plastic-sixties-throwback cameras. I found someone local selling a Big Swinger Model 3000 and took the bait. Why? The original Swinger takes Type 20 roll film that hasn’t been produced since 1970. However, the Big Swinger Model 3000 takes 100-type pack film. The same Fujifilm as the other Land Cameras in my collection. The Big Swinger has a plastic lens, plastic body, creates black and white prints, so I was already hooked on this camera before the first shot.

Made by Polaroid from 1968 to 1970, the Big Swinger Model 3000 is the younger and slightly bigger sibling to the original Swinger Model 20. The Big Swinger Model 3000 has a 114mm single –element fixed-focus plastic lens. It takes 2 AA batteries, uses AG-1 flash bulbs, and only accepts 300 ASA (100-Serial Type) black and white film. The original price was $24.95, and you can still find many of them on eBay or in thrift stores for $5 to $30 depending on condition. The Big Swinger has some unique features like many of the similar models produced at the time like the Zip and Square Shooter. Many of the features seem to be Polaroid’s attempt to cut costs and make a more affordable instant camera. For example, instead of using metal rollers to apply the reagent (developing elements) to the film, the Big Swinger uses metal spreading bars to evenly spread the reagent. To take a photo, point the camera at the subject and then squeeze the red knob (that surrounds the white shutter release) and twist to set the exposure lighter or darker. In the bottom of the viewfinder is a small red window. In that window is a red checkerboard pattern. While slowly twisting, eventually the word “YES” appears clearly. This means that the correct exposure has been achieved. While twisting the knob to adjust the exposure, the camera opens or closes the aperture blades behind the lens, letting in more or less light to the film. The aperture on this model works like a pair of scissors opening and closing. It’s that simple, and it works. This must have been another way for Polaroid to cut costs. If a flash bulb is used in the camera, the exposure is set the same, however the twist dial is set for the distance from the camera to the subject. Polaroid has attempted to simplify this. For the most part, the output from the flash bulb is generally consistent, but the light reflecting back into the camera is going to change based on a number of things. The distance being the greatest challenge. For example, a close subject with flash might reflect much more light back, so a bigger aperture (smaller opening) is used. If the subject is further away, much more reflected light is needed to come back to the camera, so a smaller aperture (larger opening) is used.

My wife thinks this camera is really dumb looking, and she has a point, it’s kind of goofy. After a few test shots, it’s easy to get the hang of the exposure control. I even popped a few flash bulbs in it to test. Seeing the wisp of smoke and the smell of the flash brought back a few childhood memories. Along with testing out a vintage camera, I decided to scan both the negatives and the photos. Scanning the negative black and white Fujifilm FP-3000b gives a very dramatic and aged look to the photos. I’m really happy with the results.

Lost Art Tattoo on 25th Street, Ogden, UT
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b

Old Ovid Meetinghouse in Ovid, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b


Abandoned Farmhouse in Bancroft, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b

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About Shaun Nelson

Learning to shoot analog in a digital world. UtahFilmPhotography.com is dedicated to sharing information, sharing experience and sharing knowledge about film photography and vintage cameras. View all posts by Shaun Nelson

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