Polaroid 636 CL Close Up

Review: Polaroid 636 Close Up



The Polaroid 636 Close Up is an interesting evolution of the classic Polaroid 635, since it includes a plastic lens for close-up shots. How does this lens perform for portrait shots? Does it make the 636 Close Up a good choice for your next Polaroid camera? These are the questions we will look into.

In the Polaroid family, we’re calling to the stage…

We cannot talk about the Polaroid 636 Close Up without mentioning its close cousin, the Supercolor 635 CL (CL stands for Close up Lens). We would like to clarify any possible misunderstandings. Both the Polaroid 636 Close Up and the Polaroid Supercolor 635 CL have the popular close up function and are very similar in the way they function.

Les Polaroid 636 Close Up et 635 CL sont de proches cousins, qui se différencient essentiellement par leur design.

Les Polaroid 636 Close Up et 635 CL sont de proches cousins, qui se différencient essentiellement par leur design.

The difference between the two cameras is in their designs. The Polaroid Supercolor 635 CL emulates the angular design of the Polaroid 635 cameras and is in line with them. The Polaroid 636 Close Up has a more rounded design, and includes a few specificities:

  • The camera is dark grey.
  • At the back of the device, the plastic tip of the viewfinder is not flared like the one on the Polaroid 635. It is rounder, shorter and has a low-profile.
  • “Made in the United Kingdom” is written on its back.

Handling the Polaroid 636 Close Up remains identical in every respect to that of its cousins. A 600 film cartridge is inserted through a flap that opens on the front. The Polaroid 636 Close Up also has all the same basic functions as the Supercolor 635 model, and thus features:

  • A flash
  • A Lighter/Darker sliding switch that gives you control over the exposure (albeit quite basic)
  • A double shutter release that allows you to shoot without the flash or to let the camera decide if it should be activated or not
Polaroid 636 Close Up

“Made in the United Kingdom”

We’re not going to do the portrait of Polaroid 635 again here. Let’s get to the point.

The close up function

What distinguishes the Polaroid 636 Close Up from the basic 635 models is its close up mode. This mode is recommended for all close-up shots, and therefore well-suited for portraits. It must be activated when you are between 0.60 cm and 1.20 m from your subject. The close up mode reduces the minimum required focus distance, which is normally around 1.20 m on Polaroid cameras.
In practice, the Close Up mode uses a plastic lens positioned in front of the basic lens. It therefore acts as an overlayer. A slider on the front of the camera allows you to activate the close up lens and lock it in position.

We see here the slider pushed towards the flower icon. The close-up lens is in position in front of the lens, visible in the center. Another thin plastic layer came in front of the viewfinder and serves as a guide for the shot.

We see here the slider pushed towards the flower icon. The close-up lens is in position in front of the lens, visible in the center. Another thin plastic layer came in front of the viewfinder and serves as a guide for the shot.

Each time the camera is turned off, the slider automatically returns to the default setting symbolized by the pine tree icon, a focusing distance ranging from 1.20 m to infinity. If you happen to take a break between several portraits during a photo session, be sure to check the settings before each photo.

How does the Polaroid 636 Close Up perform?

Without taking our breath away, the sharpness of the images made with the lens is quite satisfying. It probably isn’t on par with the autofocus of a 660 model or the incredible focal precision of an SX-70 Sonar System, but if the light is sufficient, the results are quite convincing. The close up function is very reliable and adds value to a model that would otherwise be very basic.

Follow the recommended distance and you will optimize the results with the lens.

Follow the recommended distance and you will optimize the results with the lens.

Verdict

The close up lens is a welcome addition to the basic model. When used for portraiture or other techniques, the 636 Close Up cannot compete with other more advanced Polaroid models which rely on more sophisticated focusing systems. However, it is probably the most interesting model among the basic Polaroid cameras of the 600 series.
Relatively easy to find at a cheap price, it is therefore a good choice to make your first steps into old-fashioned Polaroid photography, using film produced by the Impossible Project.