Once upon a time in New York…

Once upon a time, before the Internet changed everything for better or worse, there was a guy at 37 West 47th Street that everyone went to when they needed an adaptation outside the standard options of the camera manufacturer. A true handyman named Marty Forscher (1921-2009), the grand master of camera repairs and alterations.

After World War II, Marty opened Professional Camera Repair, first on Lexington Avenue and later at the West 47th location that everyone knew. His shop was not just a repair place, it was a Mecca for generations of camera owners of the New York photography arena. There, Marty not only fixed the cameras, but he always came up with new ideas that the manufacturers hadn’t even thought of before.


The back:

His best known was the Forscher ProBack, a Polaroid back for 35 mm cameras. Simple? No, not really. Before the ProBack, the only way to get a snapshot with a 35mm camera was a contraption known as Speed Magny which abosorbed no less than 5 light steps so that a shutter speed of 1/250 seconds became 1/8 second. Marty instead devised a system that used a floating fibre optic lens to transfer the image from the camera’s film plane directly to the Polaroid film plane…

In this sense, the NPC Proback is much more than meets the eye. It contains fibre optics (at a time when no one had ever heard of them). In the Proback the focal plane for the Polaroid material is at least 12 mm behind the focal plane of conventional film. This makes it impossible to get a proper focus. Solutions were tried. Few worked. Then Marty Forschner had the brilliantly idea of bridging that 12 mm with a block of fused fibre optic bundles mounted on a spring.

In a world in which the norm was for manufacturers to copy each other, Marty’s approaches and ideas were out of the ordinary and they primarily worked. Marty was certainly a man before his time.  

The film:

After Polaroid stopped producing film for the Proback, Fuji took over the instant cartridges business… until 2016. The Fuji FP-100B (B&W), FP-100C (color) and FP-3000 (color) in the 3.25×4.25 size will fit in above camera back. None will produce a usable negative but, as a curiosity, you should know that this film can make Polaroid Transfers. This technique consists of using the negative of the photo (the paper that we separate from the photo in the developing process) by sticking it on a sheet of paper (preferably porous paper to make printing easier). With this, by separating the negative again, we get another image with the chemicals that were left on the negative.

All Fuji cartridges available today have expired many years ago and will certainly be a waste of money in 90% of the cases. Very sad that Fuji stopped the production of these films. Yet, today you can get a working peel-apart packfilm fitting the Proback of our camera called ONE INSTANT (the only solution that we are currently aware of):  

Now (April 2022) available to the public in our shop, the F3HP with NPC PROBACK II —an important breakthrough in the history of photography— is without doubt a combination of technology that will make any collector proud.

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