Thrift pick: Polariod Pronto Land Camera


I picked this Polariod Pronto! OneStep up about a year ago at a local thrift store for $3. Standard-size Polaroid instant cameras are generally really common, so I’m always on the lookout for more unique variants such as my Rainbow OneStep or this Pronto.

The Pronto! was Polaroid’s affordable alternative (at $66 at its 1976 debut) to the much more expensive SX-70 camera, which started at $180 for the camera and $6.90 for each film pack. One year later, Polaroid introduced a $40 OneStep model– the aforementioned “Rainbow” OneStep which featured fixed focus and a single-element 103mm f/14.6 lens.

The Pronto! offered an electronic shutter, full autoexposure, plus a three-element, 116mm f/9.4 plastic lens. This OneStep instant camera has a guess-focus feature– the user sets the distance to the subject. I remember being iffy about purchasing the camera at the thrift store, but the store manager agreed to throw in this flash attachment that I found at the back of the shelf. 

Supposedly, many of these Polaroid Pronto models were used with Polatronic 2 electronic flash attachments. So I’ll be on the look out for a Polatronic 2 to replace my current flash. Perhaps more than any other instant camera, the one I’d most like to add to my collection is the SX-70.

What differentiates this model from other Polaroid variations is the golden panel next to the lens. When you press the shutter button halfway, the camera makes some sounds you can’t hear. They bounce off the subject and back onto the big golden panel, which lets the camera calculate distance and turn a motor to focus the lens. But more importantly, it looks really neat.


Information from Jim Grey’s blog. For more information about decorating with vintage cameras, check out my piece on incorporating vintage cameras into a modern living space.

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