Packtastic*...or How to Use 100 Series Film in an 80 Series Film Polaroid Camera




It happens to all of find this cool looking Polaroid camera in a thrift shop for fifty cents - buy it - only to find out that the film is long discontinued and stuff that is available is probably bad and the stuff that is known good is outrageously expensive.

Well, maybe this only happens to me...??

The camera in question is the Polaroid Electric Zip in blue (they came in patriotic, white, blue and black).  Although some ridged body Polaroid cameras could take both 100 and 80 series pack film, the entire Zip line was meant for 80 series packfilm only.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ins and outs of packfilm, the 80 series film was more square than the rectangular 100 series film.  The key distinction however is that the 80 series film was discontinued when Polaroid went belly up whereas 100 series packfilm is still made by Fujifilm.

I wanted to convert the camera to sheet film, however considering the number of death threats I got from previous Polaroid to regular film conversions, I elected to stay "Instant."

In this Instructable, we will convert a Polaroid Electric Zip from 80 series packfilm to 100 series packfilm.

* "Packtastic" is the registered trademark of the Film Photography Project, Michael Raso -  Benevolent Overlord.

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Step 1: Camera Overview/Stuff You Will Need

The Electric Zip was a consumer grade Polaroid camera popular in the 1970's.  Many survive to this day in thrift shops and junk drawers around the world.  The front standard works probably as well as the day it was manufactured, however the plastic that makes the body has grown brittle with age.  I imagine that the plasticisers have evaporated.  Perhaps some armor-all would revitalize it a little?

Luckily, cyanoacrylate glue works wonders on the broken plastic pieces.

The camera is built along the same lines as other packfilm cameras, but takes the square 80 series film exclusively.  This is a problem since Polaroid has stopped producing the film and current stocks are deteriorating quickly.  To use this camera as I intend, I'll have to convert it to the readily available 100 series packfilm that is still made by Fujifilm.

For this instructable you ill need:

1.  An Electric Zip camera (this modification will probably work with any 80 series film camera made by Polaroid).

2.  One or more packs of Fujifilm 100 series pack film.

3.  Small format pliers like needle nose.

4.  Razor knife, box cutter, exacto knife (any one).

5.  Ruler.

6.  Rotary tool (optional).

7.  Cyanoacrylate glue (superglue) if you break any plastic piece as I did.

8.  45~60 minutes of time.  

Step 2: Modify the Camera

The purpose of this modification is to create more room in the camera in which the longer 100 series film will seat.  To do this, we'll remove the old 80 series film stop and take out the plastic ridges meant for the old film.

1.  Open the back of the camera and remove the back portion by lifting up on one of the tabs and ease off the back.  This is an optional step as you can do everything with it on.  Removal makes the process easier, but I also snapped off the tab doing it.  You can glue it back on, but it might just be best to leave well enough alone.

2.  Locate the black 80 series film stop.  It is black with white writing.  Wiggle the plastic back and forth until it loosens.  You might hear some cracking as the plastic breaks away from the camera.  Recycle the stop.

3.  Once the stop is gone, examine the area that the stop covered.  You will see some ridges (again to stop the 80 series film) that must be taken out before the new film pack will lay flat.  You can use a dremel too to grind them down or use a pair of pliers to break out the ridges.

4.  If you took off the back, you can now put it back on by carefully bending the hinge tabs and easing it back on the camera.

OK, you are done with the camera.  If you check an old 100 series cartridge, you will notice that it almost fits.  Maybe an extra 5mm would make it fit snugly.  We'll take care of that in the next step.

Step 3: Modify the Film Pack

Now the pack will almost fit.  To make up the last 5mm, we will cut the plastic on the pack itself.  You will have to do this with every pack of film you use.  Luckily, Fujifilm long changed from metal to soft plastic film holders, so the operation is fairly simple.

1.  Open a new pack of 100 series film.  On the front of the pack, locate the rectangle raised off the plastic.  Use this as a guide for your cut.

2.  Use a ruler and razor knife (exacto) to deeply score the plastic on the film pack.  Don't cut all the way through or you will risk damage to the film.

3.  Once you are satisfied with the scoring, score the sides of the pack from your line straight down.

4.  Once all is scored, break off the plastic with a pair of pliers.  Recycle the small strip of plastic.

5.  Insert the pack into the camera.  It should fit snugly.

Now that the pack fits, it should act just like any other pack camera.

Step 4: Operation, Sample Photos, Issues

The camera will operate just like any other pack film camera.  I'll go over the steps below, but if you are familiar with pack cameras, you know the drill.

1.  Seat the film into the back of the camera and swing the back closed.  It will look like paper is caught half in and half out of the camera - this is normal.  Swing the metal wire and snap into place.

2.  Pull the dark slide paper firmly.  It will slide out and a small white tab with the exposure number will be revealed where the dark slide was.

3.  Adjust the ISO switch to the ISO of the film you are using (either 75 or 3000).

4.  If you feel it is too dark for your film, attach a flash cube (not a magic cube).  Snap the cube in and wind the cube clockwise until it stops.  The cube will rotate to a fresh bulb with every photo.

5.  Ensure the shutter release is not locked (on the open padlock icon).

6.  Compose and take your photo by gently squeezing the shutter release.

7.  You can create a double exposure (or triple or quadruple) by simply repeating step 6.  If you don't want to, continue to the next step.

8.  Firmly pull the white, numbered tab all the way out.  A new tab will take its place.

9.  You will notice a wider tab appearing to the rear of the first.  This is your actual photo.

10.  Firmly pull the wide photo tab in one motion completely out of the camera.

11.  Wait for the film/print sandwich to develop.  There is a development time guide right on the photo pull tab.

12.  After the wait, peel the print away from the negative and enjoy the warm feeling of creativity.

13.  Once the print dries (a few minutes), you can put it away for future enjoyment.

14.  Traditionally, the negative is tossed in the garbage, but you may decide to keep it for further processing.  All sorts of fun stuff can be done with the negative (just use da'google).

Issues:  Using this pack film in a camera for which it is not designed, you can expect some "issues."  Here are the ones I have encountered:

a.  A black (unexposed) bar on the right hand side of the photo.  This is to be expected as the original  format was square and we are using rectangular film.  This will happen to every photo, so plan your composition accordingly.

b.  Developing reagent (goo) spreading problems.  Even with a nice firm pull, the goo does not seem to get to the corners of the photo.  I've tried manual spreading with my fingers after the photo was pulled, but that left artifacts on the print.  This is fresh film, so I can not blame it on dried up reagent.  It happens more or less (less with a nice firm pull) with every print, so I plan my composition accordingly.  Once I'm through with this pack, I'll examine in interior and see I I can spot the culprit.

Conclusion:  Don't let your Electric Zip sit on its lazy butt in retirement -- put in a little work and have it start making Packtastic* images once again.

Step 5: Update

Goo Spreading:

Although I have not fixed the goo spreading problem, a work around will solve the problem for the most part.  I was able to get full goo coverage by rolling a soft rubber brayer over the package as soon as it comes out of the camera.  Luckily, I have a brayer around for block printing.  A foam paint roller may also work.  Do this on a safe surface because some of the goo will ooze out the side of the print/neg sandwich.

The problem with the goo must be related to the width of the gap between the rollers in the camera.  Type 80 film must have been slightly thicker than modern 100 series film?


I had one photo jam in the camera out of the 10 photos in the pack.  The photo took as normal, but the photo tab didn't appear in the out door on the camera.  I opened the camera in room light to see if I could somehow insist the photo go through the rollers, but only succeeded in exposing the next photo to light and fogging it.  I eventually took the jammed photo out and processed it manually with the rubber brayer.  It did produce an image of my cat Eddie, but it included a lot of weird artifacts.  This jam has only happened once, so I'm going to consider it an anomaly.  This type of jam also infrequently occurs in my regular pack cameras, so I'll attribute it to the complex path these photos must take inside the camera.

Step 6: Update: Goo Control

It seems this arrangement requires some cleaning of the rollers to prevent the heartbreak of goo build up!  So try cleaning after every pack or two.  A little more often than regular pack photography.

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    22 Discussions


    Sure, they should be just as light tight as a regular pack. Since they are out of the factory foil package, I'd store the pack in a heavy duty quart freezer ziplock bag. This will protect it from dust, moisture and mechanical damage. If you could find them in black...all the better 8-)


    Reply 8 months ago

    This is late, but last year I went on a trip and I didn't pull out the film leader correctly, it became stuck. then the leader tore and broke all the emulsion pouches on the unexposed images. this is my own fault, as I had last used the camera a long time before. I have seen somewhere somebody wrote a tutorial but featured turning the exposure dial to the dark setting, as the film is 100 ISO and the camera operates for 75 speed.


    10 months ago

    Great instructions! Where do you find your flash cubes? I'm having a hard time getting my hands on some.

    2 replies

    Reply 10 months ago

    Ray, The flash cubes are two technological cycles ago. Flash cube-> Magic Cubes-> Electric strobe. So the only way to find them is to search through thrift shops and eBay. Amazingly, they seem to never expire unless they were stored in some moist environment. Usually, if I see some I pick them up so I have a hodgepodge stash of them. That said, there were millions made so it is just a matter of persistence. The camera does not need a flash cube if there is enough light, so maybe you could use it on nice sunny days until you can get your hands on a stash.


    2 years ago

    This is a bit confusing. Is the photo supposed to pass through the rollers or should it pass through where the white paper tips are hanging like the Colorpack ii? I tried this, made cuts better than this tutorial but I cannot get an image out!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    The photo sandwich will come through the rollers, breaking the reagent pack and spreading the reagent between the photo and negative. It should operate like any other peel apart Polaroid camera.

    The paper tab, when pulled will cause the photo sandwich tab to appear between the rollers. If it does not, you may have to adjust the tension on the springs that hold the pack in the camera. Sometimes, these can be pretty stiff and impede the photo coming out in the correct fashion. You can see the spring here. It is the metal spring right above the "Keep Rollers Clean" warning. Good luck!


    2 years ago

    It worked!!!!!

    And easy to follow instructions.


    3 years ago

    Hi thanks so much for this! Has anyone tried doing this with a Kodak camera? I have an old pleaser instant camera by kodak that I really want to try this with.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Ahhh, the old Pleaser! Probably has not pleased anyone in quite a while! I don't think that you could really convert a Pleaser to pack film. It was an integral type instant camera, not a peel apart instant camera. I've converted a Kodak instant camera to a cut film camera, but the results were not that great and was not worth the effort. Better to have it as a decorative object or doorstop 8-)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This guide works great! Although my plastic was soft rather than brittle. I used this guide and another persons experience of this mod to help ("Back from the dead: Hack your Polaroid")


    6 years ago on Step 3

    I just tried this with a Polaroid Colorpack 82 with Fuji FP-3000B instant film and it works perfectly. Thank you heaps for this!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable. Just did this to a square shooter 2 that I purchased because I thought it took type 100 packfilm (whoops!). So far (knock on wood) i haven't had any emulsion issues. The rollers seem to be doing there job very well. If I run into any additional issues I'll toss up another comment.

    I'm wondering if there would be a way to remove the stop from right side of the pack holder. even if you had to glue in a few plastic tabs to keep the film from sliding around, this would eliminate the need to alter the film packs. if I get ambitious, I will also post another comment.

    Again, well done!


    7 years ago on Step 4

    On Issue b., Try checking your rollers. They might be dirty or stiff rolling. I had A camera were one roller was MUCH harder to turn than the other. That can lead unequal pressure on the film.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    VO! I like what you do, brother... we're cut from the same hacking cloth, you and I. Keep it up!