Polaroid cameras were a huge part of popular 80s culture and captured tons of birthdays, vacations, get-togethers, and more. While you probably don’t see people using Polaroids very often anymore, some enthusiasts still love to collect old Polaroid cameras, use them for unique aesthetic photography, and find the rarest models.
Capture has digitized Polaroid photos as well as other photos, home movies, 8mm and Super 8mm film reels, and other analog media for over 12 million families. We also want people to keep creating new analog memories and taking Polaroid pictures, so we put together this guide to finding and buying 19 old Polaroid cameras.
Keep reading to learn about 19 classic Polaroid models including the SX-70, popular 600 series, OneStep, Spectra, SLR 680, Polaroid land camera line, and much more as well as where to find and buy these vintage Polaroid cameras.
- The Allure of Old Polaroid Cameras
- 19 Classic Old Polaroid Camera Models
- Where to Find Old Polaroid Cameras
The Allure of Old Polaroid Cameras
Polaroid is the most famous brand of instant film cameras and people still love to collect, buy, sell, and use them in 2023. There are many reasons for this. Not only are they tons of fun to use, print out immediate physical copies to view and share, and offer aesthetic charm with the iconic white border, but there are other reasons people keep buying them.
Nostalgia is a huge motivator for many Polaroid film camera collectors. The vintage charm and unique aesthetic of original Polaroid models highlight features of the best and worst 1980s cameras and are not found in modern digital cameras. In fact, it led to the release of Polaroid Now, a new Polaroid camera that came out in 2020.
Another reason that people like to collect Polaroid cameras is because of how much a Polaroid camera is worth. It can be as much as $1000 or more. Some collectors like to buy cheap models and fix them up to sell for a profit while other enthusiasts seek the rarest, oldest, and most iconic Polaroid models.
In short, there’s just something nostalgic and aesthetic about an antique Polaroid camera that keeps people hooked. It’s not just the appearance of the camera itself, but of Polaroid film, the colors, the exposure, and the white frame that makes it perfect for people who want to learn how to scrapbook.
19 Classic Old Polaroid Camera Models
These are some of the most sought-after and most popular retro Polaroid camera models you can find. Some are classic due to their popularity or specific features while others are sought-after for rarity, uniqueness, or other factors.
This folding single-lens reflex Polaroid camera was released in 1972 and initiated a long line of Polaroid models as well as competitors from rivals like Kodak. The most cherished version of the Polaroid SX-70 camera is one with brown leather and a chrome body. This folding camera is truly iconic and evokes nostalgia for lots of people.
The Polaroid 600 camera was one of the most popular models of Polaroids of all time, which means it’s pretty easy to find these days. It offers point-and-shoot capability and has an auto-focus range of closeup 4 feet all the way to distant subjects. It uses only 600 film packs and was released in 1978, making it one of the cameras you might associate with some of the most common sayings from the 80s like “bodacious,” or “totally radical.”
Polaroid Sonar OneStep
This version of the Polaroid SX-70 line was equipped with a sonar autofocus system that made it easier to focus, especially in dim lighting. There are also tons of great versions in iconic 70s and 80s colors as well as Polaroid SX-70 OneStep Sonar Gold version that’s covered in 24-carat gold, with a present-day sale price of as much as $2000.
Polaroid Land Camera 1000
This camera was marketed as the Polaroid OneStep in the United States, but foreign models with the original name are especially valuable, especially with the original box. With iconic features like the Q-light flash and two unique shutter colors, this model had tons of potential. Plus, it was affordable and came in different formats in addition to OneStep like the Polaroid Presto.
This vintage instant camera was introduced in 1986 with a new Spectra Polaroid color film that was rectangular in shape instead of the 600-film pack that was square. The camera line also had an updated lens, self-timer, and automatic exposure, but the Spectra 2 is the only one with exposure adjustment. Some models even have an LCD display and send sound waves using a computer system to measure the distance to the subject.
Polaroid 180 Land Camera
This Polaroid Land Camera uses instant peel-apart film instead of roll film and bridges the gap between older Polaroid models and the newer lines because it was made throughout the 1960s and was a major innovation during the evolution of the camera.
Polaroid 190 Land Camera
This model was intended for professional photographers and included a metal camera body with a tripod socket, an excellent single-eyepiece rangefinder viewfinder made by Zeiss that folds, and full manual exposure options. Those features and the fact that it’s compatible with pack film from Fujifilm make it one of the most sought-after classic Polaroid camera models.
Polaroid 195 Land Camera
Like the other land cameras, the Model 195 offers lots of great features including similar professional features to the Model 190. What makes it unique is the Tomioka Tominon lens and the design complete with a cool leather strap. You can also get other great accessories, but finding an original box will prove difficult.
Polaroid SLR 680
This old Polaroid camera is one of the best folding cameras the company ever made and shot 600 films, had a built-in flash, and offered autofocusing that uses sonar waves to focus on subject matter. This meant it was easier than ever to shoot clean, crisp photos of family memories.
Polaroid Highlander 80A
The Polaroid Highlander 80A from 1954 had a more compact design than earlier models and used rolls of film, unlike future models. Like the change from 8mm to Super 8, this camera was designed to make Polaroid usage easier and more convenient with a lighter camera body and a more affordable sale price.
Polaroid Colorpack II
As a rigid plastic bodies instant camera, this model was a huge seller for a low price. Some earlier models even had a glass lens combined with a plastic body as the company transitioned to more lightweight and affordable materials. It uses the peel-apart 100-series Land Pack type film, and the viewfinder had a red square designed for perfect portrait photos.
Polaroid Sun 600 LMS
Released in 1983, the Polaroid Sun 600 LMS had a battery that was built into the film cartridge and an iconic design that epitomizes the Polaroid brand. It came in Silver and Black options and offers a nostalgic folding camera appearance that can be fun to use.
Polaroid Sun 660
Similar to the 600 LMS, this Polaroid instant camera is fun and easy to use and has point and shoot capability. Designed for consumers and creating instant photo album images, the meniscus lens and plastic camera body surrounding the autofocus system are great and still affordable if you’re looking to buy a retro Polaroid camera in 2023.
Polaroid The Clincher Land Camera
The Polaroid Clincher is a lesser-known model that was only made in 1975, but it deserves a spot on this list because of the silver and black design and heavy availability on the secondary market. You can find it affordably even with the original box in good condition, but it also has a unique aesthetic that combines the SX-70 look with more modern sleekness.
Made between 1988 and 1994, the Polaroid Impulse offers an always-on flash, easy grips, a large viewfinder, and autofocus self-timer. It came in various colors including magenta, blue, green, gray, black, and yellow and offered an easy-to-use compact design that you might have continued using up until you bought your first digital camera a few years later.
Polaroid SuperColor 635
This instant camera is perfect for beginners and the red and black model is very cool looking while the rainbow striped original is iconic. The simplistic design made it a great birthday gift for grandpa back in the day and is still a good present for loved ones today.
Polaroid Macro 5 SLR
This Spectra camera from the early 2000s was designed for close-up and macro photography and offers an effective aperture and incredibly unique design that makes it a collector’s item, especially considering it’s very hard to find. The design was made for professional use and made for the feeling of using a microscope, so it wasn’t really designed for everyday consumers.
Polaroid Captiva Pop Shots
The Polaroid Captiva model is the world’s first ever single-use instant camera, which meant you didn’t have to know where to get disposable cameras developed because you got instant results despite it being disposable. That being said, it’s very hard to find these cameras with vintage Polaroid film still ready to be used.
Polaroid JoyCam 500
Before the release of the new i-type film and Polaroid Now by The Impossible Project, the JoyCam 500 was one of the last models. Its sleek design is reminiscent of cheaper digital cameras from the early 2000s, which makes it compact, lightweight, mobile, and fun to use.
Where to Find Old Polaroid Cameras
If you’re looking to buy one of these old Polaroid camera models or any others, you need to know where to look. There are plenty of options for buying a Polaroid Image/Spectra System camera, Polaroid 300 camera, Polaroid Miniportrait camera, popular 600 series models, and many other Polaroid types in 2023 and you can start by looking at the following places.
Places like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and even Facebook Marketplace are great options for finding vintage Polaroid cameras for an affordable price. The only thing is that you’ll have to be careful because sellers might not be camera enthusiasts so you might have to gamble a bit on the condition.
Camera Specialty Stores
Another option is local camera and photography stores as well as online stores like Restrospekt.com. These places are great because you get to ask questions, buy refurbished Polaroid cameras, and even get film and accessories, but you might pay a higher price.
Thrift Stores and Flea Markets
Don’t forget to check thrift stores, flea markets, and even garage sales because you might get lucky and find the old Polaroid camera you’ve been looking for. Plus, they can be very affordable, you can feel and try them out, and you might even learn a bit about the history of the camera itself.
Camera Shows and Exhibitions
Another option is to go to camera shows and exhibitions to ask the people and vendors about cameras and the Polaroid model you have your eye on. There are both local and national events that you can keep in mind like the International Festival on Experimental Photography. While they won’t focus only on Polaroids, you might be able to find another instant camera like Fujifilm Instax Mini or an 8mm film camera that fills your needs.
Online Camera Communities and Forums
One last idea is to browse camera communities like Reddit or forums like Polaroid Passion or DP Review. Many of the people in these forums are very knowledgeable and might be able to answer your questions and help you find a rare Polaroid.
Getting an old Polaroid camera in 2023 isn’t too hard if you know where to look and you might be able to find one of the most iconic, classic, or rare models like the SX-70, 600 Series, Sonar OneStep, Land Camera 1000, or one of the other iconic models.
If you get a Polaroid or have photo albums full of family memories, Capture can ensure they last forever by converting them into high-quality digital images. Click here to learn about our premium photo scanning services including the one-of-a-kind touchless photo album scanning service.