The Polaroid Model 80b Highlander

Polaroid 80b Highlander

Polaroid 80b Highlander

I found this magnificent camera at my local Goodwill thrift shop. If you follow the history of the Polaroid line at all, you will know that Polaroid roll film was discontinued in 1992. A few months ago, I wrote to the folks at The Impossible Project, to hopefully discover if any of the machinery was saved when they took over the factory in the Netherlands. Unfortunately not, as Polaroid had scrapped them years before TIP scooped it up. So, essentially, this is a beautiful desk conversation piece.

The physical design of the camera itself was executed, as were many Polaroid cameras, through Henry Dreyfuss, the legendary industrial designer. Another “genius”, in the author’s opinion, certainly Dr. Land surrounded himself with the best of the best. Dreyfuss designed, amongst other things, that round Honeywell thermostat that we all take for granted today, as well as the classic John Deere tractor. His office was cutting edge throughout the 50’s and 60’s.

The earlier version of this camera, is famous for having been used by Mary Moorman, a woman standing about 20 feet from President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and taking one of the most important photographic pieces in film history, right behind The Zapruder Film in its importance. Her photograph, which was taken just after frame 313 on that film, shows what many think could be a man dressed in a uniform, shooting a rifle, on The Grassy Knoll. Contrary to popular urban legend, Polaroid film stock is sharp, sharp material. This blog is not a JFK Assassination forum, but after having seen The Men Who Killed Kennedy on A&E, well, anything is possible.

My next door neighbor, after I showed off this magnificent camera to him, said he would have bought the camera alone for the picture of the beautiful, curvy brunette on the inside cover of the owner’s manual. She is gorgeous, frozen in time from the Mad Men era.

There are some who convert these Highlander cameras to accept 120 medium format roll film. Then, of course, the “instant” of the camera is no longer instant. Still, may be a future project. The 110a/b’s are converted into beautiful pack cameras or 4×5 instants, by innovative folks such as Nate/Option 8 at . They look amazing.

The 80B was made from 1959-1961. I am guessing this piece is from ’60 or ’61, as the box is of the modern Paul Giambarba graphic design. Now there is yet another Polaroid genius, for another blog entry. The possibilities here are endless!



18 thoughts on “The Polaroid Model 80b Highlander

    • Thanks for the kind comments. My hope is that I help to spread Polaroid Fever. This model is surprisingly easy to find. And, because you can’t get film for the pre-Automatic Land Cameras, they are, for the most part, very inexpensive. Polaroid pumped out a ton of them. While carrying little monetary value, to a true Polaroid collector, they are priceless must-haves.

      • I’m a shooter, not a collector though my wife doesn’t believe me. “Another camera???” 😉

        Too bad TIP would need a time machine to rescue the roll film. Some of the roll cameras have been converted to take pack film, haven’t they?

      • Harry- as you can see in today’s blog, I am also a shooter.

        Regarding conversions,I make mention of this in yesterday’s blog. This model, the 80b Highlander, can be converted to use 120 medium format roll film. It does not have the physical dimensions to accept a pack or 4×5 conversion. Models such as the 110/a/b are very regularly converted, and really make for a gorgeous kit. The optics of the camera, a fast Rodenstock Ysaron, are perfect for such a set up.


  1. Interesting, when I read about conversions I’d always assumed they were to pack film, not 120 roll film which is still cool, though I already have my Mamiya RB67 Pro S from the ’70s and a Yashicaflex from the ’50s.

    What format do you get on 120 film with the 80b, 6×6 I assume?

  2. Oh and I wasn’t meaning to imply that you were just a collector! I only buy cameras I can shoot with, even if it means hand loading film and making my own backing paper. Making my own instant film rolls is obviously beyond me however…

    A converted, refurbished Polaroid 100 looks quite reasonable from his eBay items so I am just asking him about the shipping cost.

    • You know what? I looked at a 110B Pathfinder today at a show that had been converted to pack film. However, the owner had done a pinhole conversion on it also, rendering it useless to me. For a landscape/architecture photographer, likely ideal. But I am a shallow depth of field fan. So, I did pass!


      • I don’t get the pinhole thing. Even if you do want deep depth of field a lens always works better.

        I clicked “buy it now” on a Polaroid 100 refurb/AAA conversion from instant options! Should be here in a few weeks, wow USPS is slow to Canada… even with international priority mail. I’ll continue to use my NPC Land Polaroid back in the meantime.

    • Done! It is such a simple system I hope it does last that long. As advertised this one has been around the block many times but it still works perfectly.

      Now if I could just find a 195 in perfect condition at a thrift store for $15…

  3. The best thing to do with these cameras is to remove the front standard and affix them to a cut down lens extension tube for use with a focal plane shutter film camera. In this way the Polaroid optics, which are basically made out of pop bottle glass but well ground make a superb soft focus optic. Filters are often available for this lens as well.

    There are really nice photos of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe looking at one of these cameras at a party in late ’61 or early ’62. The camera is sadly useless in stock form and homebrew 120 conversions are awkward in the extreme.

    Ed Romney had reprinted some Polaroid repair materials but he has passed on and his books are unavailable. Someone posted a bunch of Polaroid repair manuals to scribd but they are all of the pack era cameras.

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