NPC Proback II, MF-12 Databack

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Mitya138, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Mitya138

    Mitya138 Member

    Jan 19, 2011
    Tokyo, Japan
    Multi Format
    I recently came across a Nikon NPC Proback II for a reasonable price. I wonder if someone could answer a couple of questions:
    First of all, is instant film for it still available? If so, which ones?
    Secondly, for anyone who's actually used an alternate Nikon back, just how much hassle is swapping them out? I wouldn't do it a lot, but it's something to think about.

    In the case of the MF-12 Databack, I assume it prints the data on the emulsion side, similar to the option that most P&S's offer. (It would be great if it were on the back instead, but I don't see how they could pull that off.) Also, where on the image and what size is the imprint?

  2. M Carter

    M Carter Member

    Jan 23, 2013
    Dallas, TX
    Medium Format
    Hi Mitya -

    The only currently manufactured pack films are the Fuji 100c (color) and 3000b (B&W). They are both very nice films. You can find expired pack film on eBay and at "the impossible project", but it gets pricier and more rare every day - and pack films are notorious for drying out over time.

    It's very very finicky to swap the backs out - when people used them commercially, you'd dedicate a camera body to the polaroid back. (In my case, shooting with an N90s in the film days, I had an 8008 with the proback. Same range of shutter speeds, AF, etc).

    Can you believe those things were $650 or so in the 80's & 90's?

    A couple notes -

    The image on the film is the same size as a 35 negative - it doesn't enlarge to fill the sheet. And since the image is being transported through a block of fiber optic, it's a bit soft - you wouldn't want to scan it or anything.

    Back in the day we used those for checking exposure, composition, ratios when shooting chromes (slide film, transparencies, whatever they're called these days). When doing that, you need to do some testing and bracketing to know how to rate the polaroid compared to a given film. Usually we'd rate E-100 at around 80 as a start point - seemed like the 100 polaroid back in the day rated closer to 100 - so you need to figure out how far off the polaroid is from your optimal exposure, if exposure is critical - and get a feel for how it handles highlights and shadows compared to final film.

    You can get two prints on one sheet of polaroid, good for bracketing, testing, etc - saves some money! You take your first shot, and then pull the tab only as far as the fabric strip attached to the back. Take your 2nd shot and then pull the whole sheet - you'll have two exposures on the sheet.

    Those backs came with a tripod extender - just a milled aluminum tube with a 1/4-20 threaded post on one end, and a 1/4-20 threaded hole on the other. Very useful, but if you're shooting with a tripod, you either need to adjust your height when you switch to film, or use the adapter on both bodies.

    If you can't find an adapter, you might try one of the "noga arms" used for video monitors. They're articulated arms with 1/4 20 and a hot shoe - but many have 1/4-20 on both ends. The 7" models on eBay are about $15. Hope that helps!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2013