For some curious marketing reason Fuji designated their 1980/90s instant camera range Fotorama
. I suppose with a largely in-country only market, the brand name was appropriately English-hip at the time. Like the Daihatsu Naked is now.
The Fotorama range included mainly Fuji-film specific instant cameras such as the popular (at least in Japan) F-50 and the 90ACE. The range however also included a few cameras capable of using native format Polaroid
Type-600 films, including Fuji's own excellent range of compatible films (FP-3000B, FP-100C, etc
). As well as the passport photograph cameras (FP-14 & FP-UL), it also included the FP-1 Professional in early 1990s. It was JPY60,900 new, and its native strap JPY1000.1995 Fuji Fotorama FP-1 Professional.March 1991 JDM Brochure.
While the passport beasts can be had for under 1000 yen, an FP-1 will cost at least 50,000 in poor to reasonable condition. Some MiB appear at prices in excess of 100,000 yen.
Designed primarily as a proofing tool, it has a tripod socket, collapsible bellows, is rangefinder configured, and the largely plastic body is equipped with a manual 1/500, f
It is very well built, light and easy to use, with the cover opening with a nice firm snap, and the bellows-track nice and tight. No metering is provided. You can see the cocked shutter lever through the viewfinder. Some also came with a great 1980s' stick-on liquid crystal strip thermometer graduated in FujiFilm type development times - a really neat add-on. I assume the stick-on thermometer was packaged with the case, and strap options for some...
The carrying handle and strap configuration are nicely designed to make it at least partially usable in the street. Though, it does make people wince a little when you point it at them sometimes. The RF focusing works well under a wide range of lighting conditions via a bright yellow circle in the VF. I've used one on-and-off for many years, and am pleased to advise the construction is purposeful, and they are able to survive a wide range of field exposures - bumps, drops, rain and dirt - a very well made machine indeed.
To my knowledge, the FP-1 was the second-last rangefinder to accept Polaroid film to be built. The last being Polaroid Japan's hand-built 185 from 2000, only 2001 were made (serial number 0000 to 2000), and they are very
hard to obtain, with most being held by collectors. Polaroid Japan's 600 SE too is in there somewhere.Polaroid 600SE.
For more on the 600 SE system CLICK HERE
The last of the 185s are over 150,000 yen, but reasonable condition 600SEs can be found for perhaps 50,000 yen. Based on the Mamiya Universal, the 600SE perhaps being one of the best alternatives with the added benefit of interchangeable lenses.Polaroid Japan`s limited run 185 from 2000.Also made by Polaroid Japan - this time labeled `NPC` - was the 195 from 2000.
I am not sure of the lineage, but it would not surprise me if NPC took the last Polaroid Japan 185, and re-labeled it an `NPC`, as I can see no real difference between the two. This model 185/195 was hand-built in limited numbers, and was a real joy to use. The machined parts and overall build quality had a feeling of quality through-out.
The 600SE is built like a tank, and if you do not mind carrying something with the gross weight similar to very same tank, it makes a great alternative. While not as sweet perhaps as a Pathfinder with a Type-600 back, the FP-1 does offer a reasonable alternative for hi-resolution Polaroid work.
Also available at a similar time was the Konica Instant Press. A FP-1 clone, or, maybe the other way around. I know of two users though of Instant Press, and both have had problems with either build quality, or excessive wear, so not sure if this is a general Konica problem with their Instant Press, or just two anomalies. I do know the FP-1 is built with substantial materials, and I've not seen any issues after many years of hard haikyo
and street use. Konica Instant Press.Nondebeicho. Type-665.
The FP-1 works very well with both Polaroid's Type 665 positive/negative film, producing extremely high resolution negatives, and also with Fuji's own FP-3000 for almost no grain, and the most amazing range of grays you will ever see in an instant B&W film. Color too is nice sometimes; either well-kept new stuff, or well expired old stuff.Ikebukero. Fuji FP-100C.
(JapanZine, The Gaijin Eye. January 2005)Tomigaya. Expired Type-668.
As well as the native strap, other accessories available at the time included:
o 49mm filter adapter - JPY1000.
o 49mm and 40.5mm filter holders - JPY2000.
o Four types of CRT hoods - from JPY28,000.
o Two close-up adapters (with no VF adapter) - from JPY2000. Allowing focusing down to 7cm.
o Zoom close-up - JPY8500.
o Copy stand - JPY18,500.
o Fuji FP-1 branded carry-bag.
At the time, all Fuji Polaroid compatible cameras appear to only accept rectangular format - 'professional' not 'consumer' square format - films. Not really relevant these days though, unless you have vast stocks of expired Polaroid film about. The FP-1 was only listed for sale for the Japanese domestic market, with only a few examples finding their way to the gaijin
hordes, so if you have the cash, the problem will be finding one - snap it up if you can.
Next month: Ricoh's Tin Box. Have fun.