1

I am a bit confused about the shutter speed in some Polaroid cameras.

Precisely, I have these models:

  • polaroid Impulse (old)
  • polaroid One Step 2 (new)

I often read that polaroid cameras have a certain range of shutter speeds. So my first question is: how does it decide the shutter speed?

The second question is about its relationship with the pressure of the shot button. I read here that it is possible to get longer exposures if I press the button to open the film slot after pressing the button to take the shot (for old cameras), and this operation can be done with the new One Step 2 camera by turning off the camera while holding the shot button.

But if it is true, it means that I decide the shutter speed, and not the camera. So I do not understand how does it work.

My third question is related to the second one: how can I do long exposures with my polaroid cameras?

2

To properly answer your question, I think a course in light metering and exposure would be necessary, but this is beyond the scope of this forum. I will try to keep it short.

Your question is by no means confined to the boundaries of Polaroid cameras. As a matter of fact, the answer to this question applies to photography in general, be it film or digital.

Most cameras have a built-in light meter to determine the correct exposure, and those that don't need a user with an external light meter, so they can set the exposure manually.
The exposure is deduced from the light available in the scene, and in particular the light that falls onto the light sensitive meter.

Now, if more light is present, the exposure is typically shorter, and vice versa. Exposure is dependant on light, ISO, aperture, and shutter speed (with film, ISO is locked into the film, digital cameras allow you to change the sensor's ISO). Point and shoot cameras, like the Polaroid cameras you own, will just pick these settings (aperture and shutter speed) for you. Look into shutter priority, aperture priority and manual mode if you want to learn more on how other types of cameras handle this.

So to answer your first question, the camera decides the shutter speed based on the light available, and on the set aperture. Specifically, these two cameras base their aperture on the distance to the subject, and are likely to open up the aperture when the subject is closer to the lens, to aid in background separation.

I have already semi-answered your second question. If you want to do a long exposure the manual way (as in, you don't let the camera choose the exposure), then you need to meter the scene and figure out the exposure yourself. I must add that knowing how to expose and meter light is key in photography, if you want to progress beyond the significant boundaries fully automatic cameras/modes have.

I don't know how the third question could be answered in any other way than you did yourself:

[...] it is possible to get longer exposures if I press the button to open the film slot after pressing the button to take the shot (for old cameras), and this operation can be done with the new One Step 2 camera by turning off the camera while holding the shot button.

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  • Thank you for the explanation. Regarding the last question, suppose the camera decides a shutter time of 1/60s. If I press the shot button, surely I will open the slot after 1/60s. So the curtain will be already closed – Kinka-Byo Jan 25 at 19:58
  • So I do not understand why will the exposure be longer with that procedure. I'll say that the only effect of this procedure is that the film will not be ejected by the camera and so it can be used for another shot. – Kinka-Byo Jan 25 at 19:59
  • I don't see why you would think the shutter speed would be 1/60th. Without knowing the light, there is no way of telling. These cameras can do multiple seconds of exposure, and if your scene is dark enough the shutter speed should be well below 1/60th, especially considering the poor max aperture of f8. – timvrhn Jan 25 at 20:08
  • Ok ok. So in any case, I am only able to reduce the shutter time (by opening the film slot before the curtain closes), not to increase it, correct? – Kinka-Byo Jan 25 at 20:15
  • You increase the exposure time by opening the door. Aside from that, these cameras have no shutter curtain. – timvrhn Jan 25 at 20:24

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