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Polaroid CU-5 Camera, Lens and Ratio Multipliers


This is a Polaroid Camera (2019.ast.165.1) with 3-inch lens (2019.ast.165.2) and two ratio multiplers (2019.ast.165.3-4). The camera itself is a flat rectangular box with a back that can be opened via a metal latch on the base; this reveals the film compartment. On one side of the camera there is a plastic handle for carrying the camera. On the other there is the slot into which film can be slid into the camera. On top of the camera there is a slide attachment for a flash.

Fixed to the front of the camera there is a tapering plastic box with a large shutter opening on the front. This shutter can be opened and closed by way of a rotating dial reading “LOCK” and “OPEN”, which also operates the latches that hold this portion of the camera to either other ratio multiplier boxes, or the lens assembly.

This latch also enables the affixing of additional ratio multiplier boxes (2019.ast.165.3-4) to the camera, in order to increase the distance between the lens and the camera. There are two identical ratio multiplier boxes attached to this camera, both with shutters that are open when the ratio multiplers are locked to the camera, and closed when they are separated and the dials are set to open. Both ratio multipliers have screw holes in the base.

The final box is attached to the camera in the same way, and contains the 3-inch lens (2019.ast.165.2). This box has a square opening on the top, through which the lens is visible and can be adjusted via various protruding handles on the dial. On the base of this box there is a metal latch; pulling this latch mechanically opens the shutter, which can be held open as long as the latch is pulled. On one side of this box there is a four-pronged male plug into which permits the camera shutter to be connected to the CU-5 Power Pack. Around the front rim of the lens there is a plastic ring, which contains a circular flash-bulb.

Affixed to the front of the lens assembly there is a metal bracket, open at the top and the bottom, with a square hole cut at the end; the lens looks through this viewfinder frame.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.165.1-4

Alternative Name: Polaroid Close-Up Land Camera

Primary Materials: Plastic, Metal: Iron Alloy


2019.ast.165.1: On the base of the camera: “POLAROID”

Next to the film slot: “MAKE SURE BOTH SIDES CLOSE”

On the interior of the film compartment: “POLAROID LAND CAMERA BACK
Series One Hundred Film Pack Adapter
PATENTED NO’S: 2435,717; 2,435,720; 2,495,111; 2,543,160; 2,991,703; 3,079,849; 3,080,805 AND OTHERS”


On a paper sticker stuck to the back of the camera: “Please sign the list on the refrigerator door when using the Polaroid camera.”


On a piece of masking tape stuck to the back: “Light Box PSS
3x f/11-f/16 1/60s
2x 16-22 1/60
1x 16-22 1/125”

On red/pink pen a piece of white tape stuck to the back: “(:) 2B41 Lamps Type 167
f32 @ 1/60 [??]”

2019.ast.165.2 (lens): On the back of the lens attachment: “POLAROID #88-3

On top of the box: “3X FRAME”

On the rear rim of the shutter opening: “SHUTTER MADE IN GERMANY
Lens made in Germany”

Around the rim of the front of the lens: “PRONTOR-PRESS”
“RODENSTOCK-YSARON 1:4.5 f=75mm 5 668 446”

2019.ast.165.3-4 (ratio multipliers): On the rear of each multipler: “POLAROID

Dimensions (cm):

Length = 42.3, Width = 21, Height = 11.5


Polaroid cameras use film which immediately develops an image (within a few minutes). This camera, the CU-5 (“Close Up”), is a fixed-focus camera for taking macro photos. The ratio multipliers can be added to increase the magnification of the images taken.


Very Good: The camera is in excellent condition, with only minor damage. The hinge of the film door is rusty in places, and there are some marks on the metal section of the top of the camera. Four paper labels have been attached to the back of the camera, providing instructions about its use. Two of these have been held on with invisible tape.

The lens is in excellent condition, although slightly scuffed on the exterior surfaces. There is tape residue on the bracket attached to the front of the lens, both above and below the square opening.

The ratio multipliers have scuffed surfaces, but are in excellent condition.

Associated Instruments: 2019.ast.164, 2019.ast.166

Manufacturer: Polaroid Corporation

Date of Manufacture: c. 1964


This object was likely moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2008, upon the sale of the observatory. It was stored at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics until 2017, when it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

An instructional booklet entitled, “How to use the Polaroid CU-5 Close-Up Land Camera” and two pamphlets discussing Polaroid film are stored in the artifact’s file.

Historical Notes: