It’s not uncommon for Polaroid SLR folding cameras to show up at our door covered inside and out with dust, dirt and all other kinds of grime. A lot of times it’s nothing out of the ordinary — it’s just the natural state of old cameras that have been left sitting unused for long periods of time.
We find great satisfaction in getting into the nooks and crannies of these cameras to make sure they function properly and look good while doing it. However, it is normal for some small lingering bits of dust to be present after a camera goes through our repair and refurbishment process. This is particularly true with the lens assembly.
As seen above in this original diagram from Polaroid, the lens is a four-element, front-element-focusing Tessar derivative. When focusing the camera, only the front element moves back and forth; which is what allows the lens to be used in such a compact camera.
These cameras are not sealed against the elements. Opening and closing the camera can draw dust into the body. The movement of focusing the lens can then sometimes draw very small particles of that dust into the lens assembly. The middle two lens elements are cemented together, which prevents cleaning between them should any imperfections pop up.
Ultimately, we live in a dusty world, so the appearance of small dust particles is inevitable even after a camera has been thoroughly repaired and refurbished (this is true of newly manufactured cameras as well). Luckily, it doesn’t impact the camera’s performance — the particles small enough to make it into the lens assembly are simply too small to affect the final image.
This picture, from a Polaroid camera with visible dust in the lens, shows no side-effects in the final image.
Plus, each folding camera we refurbished is tested with film to ensure image quality. Rest assured, our technicians clean all accessible sides of the lens elements, and we don’t use lens assemblies with more significant internal imperfections — like fungus!
By Kyle Seis
Head of Customer Service | Retrospekt
Kyle answers your questions and gets you your stuff. He runs fulfillment and our customer service inbox. For awhile he even ran our Dutch branch in Enschede, Netherlands. He's also the regular curator of our daily playlists in the workroom at Retrospekt.