Fix Me! Free Me! Saving a Polaroid Spectra SE

There is a problem with the instant film market.

Tiny Photos. Big Problems

I personally hate the tiny Instax Mini photos that you get on today’s market, they are small and hard to see when you could have something bigger. Fujifilm makes a plethora of cameras to rectify this but they are either too bulky or too expensive.

So I thought for a minute, I have an Instax SQ6, it’s fun to take around and mess with because the film is cheap, but it still doesn’t have that feel Polaroid dominated the market with. So I went searching, I previously owned a Polaroid 600, three actually, and a Polaroid SX-70. Sadly, I dropped my Sx-70 and it’s days were immediately numbered due to how fragile that camera is.

That left one very specific option, the Polaroid Spectra System. The cameras were plentiful, the film not so much. Since this is Polaroid’s widest camera format, people buy this film up quickly, and the camera is half the size of Instax’s familiar model.

Now here is the main problem with Polaroid camera shopping… do they work? And why after the first shot the film now doesn’t come out?

First Test, Battery: Cleared

Second Test, Remove the Frog Tongue: Cleared

Third Test, Flash: Cleared

Fourth Test, Clean the Rollers: Cleared

Okay so why now was my newly minted Spectra Camera that I had acquired very easily (as in Free), not spitting out my film after the first few shots. I was now worried, do I have to scrap a perfectly good camera? So I went hunting and realized that the film was jamming in the cartridge, on Polaroid Originals cartridges there is a small insignificant piece of soft plastic that is supposed to hold the film in place. Unfortunately for us users, it causes a “sticky cartridge” issue; thus ruining shot after shot due to the film not ejecting or getting through the rollers.

This tiny miniscule piece of plastic has to be physically ripped off- with a fingernail or any sharp angry object- then you can insert your cartridge. Thus enabling the camera to work perfectly; these cameras are sensitive the gears and film grab mechanism require a subtle touch.

Now I have a very nice Spectra SE, pictures soon to come from this crime scene looking 1980s behemoth.