HowTo: 180/195 Close-Up Kit Substitutes

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a #581 plus a close-up lens set equals a #1952

So, you're the lucky new owner of a Model 180, 190, or 195 Polaroid professional pack camera!

Now you'd like to find the matching Close-Up and/or Portrait Kit for your new camera, but you quickly discover that they're not nearly as easy to find as the equivalent accessories for the common automatic pack cameras. ...And if you do find one, it's usually not cheap.

Well, don't fret-- you can make your own Close-Up and Portrait kits for your 180 or 195 out of common parts.

A typical Polaroid Close-Up kit for pack cameras consists of the following parts:

The third item is not necessary for the use of the Kit, especially since most modern-day Polaroid pack camera users no longer want to use the old Polaroid bulb-type flashguns anyway. [For that matter, the #1951 and #1952 kits for the Model 195 did not originally include any flash diffusers in the first place.]

That leaves two other components-- the close-up lens filter and the viewfinder 'goggles'.

The close-up lens can be substituted by any number of popular 3rd-party close-up filters sold for conventional cameras. The good news is that Polaroid chose whole-numbered diopter strengths for the lenses supplied in the Close-Up and Portrait kits. The Portrait Kits are +1 diopter, and the Close-Up Kits are +3. Numerous filter and lens manufaturers (such as B+W, Tiffen, and Hoya) make such filters in a wide variety of sizes, and are commonly available in convenient 3-piece sets. [Most close-up filter sets include a +1, a +2, and either a +3 or +4 lens. If the set you buy does not include a +3, you can thread the +1 filter and the +2 filter together to make a +3.] The bad news is that the filter threads on the 195 and 180 are not particularly common sizes, and might not be found at your local full-service camera store. The filter threads on the 195 are (I think) 44.5mm. [I'm not sure what the 180 has; perhaps a 180 owner can fill me in.] However, if the correct size is not readily available, you can adapt a slightly larger (but far more common) size-- such as 46mm-- by either (good) obtaining a proper filter thread adapter, or (cheap) hold the filter against the lens ring, and wrap a short length of electrical tape around the assembly to hold it in place (see illustration near the bottom of page). Go ahead and laugh, but back in high school, I regularly used the 'electrical tape' method to attach close-up filters to my Square Shooter, and it worked just fine.

What about the viewfinder 'goggles'? Well, obviously you can't easily make your own from scratch. Fortunately, that's not necessary, because the Polaroid Corporation already did that for you. All you have to do is obtain one of the commonly found Close-Up and/or Portrait Kits that were made for the automatic pack cameras, and use the 'goggles' from there. The 180 has the same Zeiss finder as the 250, 350, 360, and 450 cameras, so the 'goggles' from any of the Close-Up/Portrait kits (i.e. the #581A and #583A) for those cameras will be fine. The 195 has the same Polaroid-made finder from the 100, 230, 240, and many other camera models, so just get a Close-Up/Portrait Kit (i.e. the #581 and #583) intended for those cameras. Don't try to switch these around, though-- i.e the #581 goggles won't work on the Model 180's Zeiss finder, or vice-versa.

Now all you have to do is match up the appropriate "Portrait" goggles with your +1 close-up filter, and the "Close-Up" goggles with your +3 filter. Simple, eh?

Illustration of equivalent parts

Of course, you can also use the close-up filters by themselves even without the viewfinder 'goggles'. Most close-up filter sets come with a table of focus distances so you can use a tape measure to determine the proper camera focus setting. [As a matter of fact, that's how people generally used these close-up filters with conventional rangefinder cameras. Polaroid's viewfinder/rangefinder 'goggles' were an uncommon luxury of sorts compared with what most camera manufacturers provided.

One note: Keep in mind that at the close focus distances that a +3 diopter filter provides, depth of field is very shallow. You'll probably have trouble getting good results with a 180 or 195 camera at full aperture with a +3 close-up lens unless you're working under rather controlled conditions, so try to stop down the lens as much as you can.

Portrait Kit substitute mounted on a 195.  Note electrical tape holding filter in place.

Have fun!

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Last updated 12/14/2001

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