03 April 2011

Swinging Polaroids

The Polaroid Swinger, the first cheap instant camera, was produced between 1965 and 1970. The Model 20, so designated for its price, was advertised using a truly awful jingle written and sung by Barry Manilow: "Hey, meet the swinger / Polaroid Swinger / Meet the swinger / Polaroid Swinger / It's more than a camera, it's almost alive / It's only nineteen dollars and ninety-five / Swing it up (yeah yeah) / It says, Yes (yeah yeah) / Take the shot (yeah yeah) / Count it down (yeah yeah) / Zip it off." Such subtle suggestiveness.

The Swinger had a non-focusable 100mm lens, fixed 1/200th second shutter, and built-in flash; and used roll film developed outside the camera in about 15 seconds. An exposure meter set in a window below the viewfinder displayed "YES" when the correct aperture, altered by squeezing and turning the red knob, was set. The featured Model 15, 40 pence from a Mold charity shop, was known in the States as the Swinger II and elsewhere as the Swinger Sentinel. It was a still cheaper version, without the integral flash, but is otherwise similarly specified.

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