Polaroid SX-70 Camera

Since I wrote my blog about the Polaroid 600 camera, I have been completely obsessed with taking photos on a Polaroid camera.

The main reason is because I love the size of polaroid film. I feel the detail that comes from the photo is much greater than what I ever got on a mini instax film.

I was using my Polaroid 600 box camera quite a bit but quickly found myself getting frustrated with it. This was due to it being quite boxy which I struggled with taking out and about everyday with me unless I took a larger bag. I also quickly realised that I didn’t have much control on the focusing, which is fine if I’m taking a picture from a long distance but on shorter distances the photos were hit and miss.

I really love the design of the SX-70 folding camera and particularly loved the chrome and tan detail of some of the models so I knew that this was ultimately the Polaroid camera I would really love to have.

There are different types of the SX-70 folding camera but thanks to the Polaroid book by Rhiannon Adam I was able to decide that I would like to own the SX-70 Alpha 1 which came out around 1977.

The key differences that the Alpha 1 model has to the earlier SX-70s is that they have a built-in tripod socket, a guaranteed split-focus viewfinder, neck strap lugs and a fill flash capability where the flash isn’t limited to just being fired in low light conditions.

I had already decided if I was going to purchase one of these then I would need to pay a fairly high price for one if I wanted it in great condition. On eBay they are extremely popular and can go for quite a bit of money if several people get into a bidding war. There are some that come up cheap on eBay but they are often untested which I feel personally, you could end up paying even more to then get it refurbished. Also, I found that the Alpha 1 models don’t seem to come up as often for sale as the earlier models.

After much research I ended up purchasing my camera from a company called Revival Studio who are based on London. They sell refurbished polaroid cameras and they also come with a 6 month warranty.

The camera was immaculate and beautifully restored. Since the Alpha 1 model has the neck strap lugs, I was able to attach an original strap to the camera which makes it great for carrying around over my shoulder.

I’ve not been disappointed by this camera. I absolutely love it. The folding option makes it quite compact so I can also put it in an everyday handbag.

What’s also great is that I can use 600 Polaroid film in the camera if I use the Mint Flash Bar. I do tend to use the 600 film more than the SX-70 film because of the wider range of editions Polaroid Originals do. The cheapest place I’ve found the flash bar for sale is at Mr Porter where it costs £60 instead of around £80 which seems to be the usual price. You can also use the flash bar for the SX-70 film if taking photos indoors.

Another great accessory for this camera is the Mint SX-70 Lens set which can also be purchased from Mr Porter for £60 so again is cheaper than other websites that sell it for around £85.99. I was pleased to buy mine from there and delivery in the UK was really quick.

I purchased the camera back in September but wanted to experiment with it for a while before I blogged about it.

Since the camera is very transportable I do use it several times a week and I’m beginning to get a real feel for how it works and the best ways to take photos and when to use the light and darken switch depending on the film I’m using in the camera.

I’m at the early stages of experimenting with this camera and currently have tried both the Blue and Pink 600 Duochrome film, SX70 Colour film, 600 colour and black and white films and also expired films which have produced some interesting results!

I’m going to be blogging about the different film types and filters I’ve currently been using with the camera and some of the actual photos over the next week.

Polaroid Filter Kit

For the past week I’ve been trying out my recently purchased Polaroid Filter Kit for my Polaroid 600 camera and the Polaroid Originals 600 colour film.

I found this kit for sale on the Polaroid Originals website and since I like experimental colour photography, I knew this would be a great addition to my camera.

The filters come in a really nicely packaged box so I can continue to store them in there when they’re not in use. They also come with a velvet drawstring bag which I can put them in when I’m out and about:

The filter set contains the following:

  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Starburst
  • Multi-image 3
  • Multi-image 2

Here are some photos I took using the Blue filter:

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I wasn’t particularly impressed by the blue filter but I think in hindsight I had used the wrong things to photograph for this filter.

In the first picture I took a coastline photo where most of it is blue anyway (the sea and sky) so it looks like a pretty normal photo. As with the usual quirks of polaroid pictures, there are blemishes at the bottom of the photo which I actually think livens the photo up a bit otherwise it would have been extremely dull. The bottom part of the blemish almost looks sand like.

The next photo I attempted with the blue filter was of a green tree. Again, I didn’t feel particularly excited by this photo and thought it was rather dull. By this point I had got bored of trying out the blue filter. I’ll perhaps try it again when I find a subject with colours that have no elements of blue in them already.

Here is a photo I took with the Yellow filter:

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This colour is ok and I think it works well with the coastline but when I decide to use this filter again, I think I will need a particular idea in mind that I think will also work well with the yellow.

Here are some photos I took using the Red filter:

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As you can probably tell from the amount of photos I’ve taken, this was by far my most favourite filter to use. I initially thought the photos would come out red so didn’t think I’d like them, but when I discovered they actually come out as this cool pink colour I was over the moon with the results.

As you can see, I used a variety of different settings for my photos and I think the colour works well in all of them. You’ll also see there are again, some classic polaroid quirks (blemishes) at the bottom of some of the photos.

Here are a couple of photos I took using the orange filter:

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The orange is quite similar to the yellow filter although the colour is slightly darker and richer so I actually prefer the orange filter for this reason, hence why more photos were taken using it.

Here are some photos using the Mulit-Image 3 filter:

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Both images are of the coastline divided into three of the same image which I think looks quite cool and I’ll definitely be using this filter again.

I haven’t yet used the Multi-Image 2 or Starburst filters. The reason being that I haven’t yet found any particular subjects where I felt the need to use either of these but I’m sure I will at some point.

Overall, I’m really happy I purchased this filter set from Polaroid Originals. It gives a different style of photo to a bulk standard setting and since the limited edition colour photos such as the duo chrome from Polaroid Originals are few and far between, I think this is a good way of getting that colour fix I’m after if I’m unable to get hold of the duo chrome style films again which at some point will run out or get more expensive when there are less of them about.

I recently purchased some ‘Gold Frame’ polaroid 600 colour film so I’m keen to see how the filters may work with that as a contrast.

Streaky Polaroid 600 Film

Whilst getting some photos developed in my local lab, I bought some Polaroid 600 colour film from them as I was keen to see how the photos would look when taken with my (new to me) vintage Polaroid 600 camera.

This was the first photo I took:

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As you can see the photo has streak marks on it and my initial reaction was that there was possibly something wrong with my camera (since I had bought it in good faith on eBay). I also wondered if it was because it had been taken indoors.

I decided to take some more photos outside:

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Yet again, more streaks! At this point I wondered was it my camera or was it the film? I struggled to believe it was the film because I had bought it recently from a reputable camera shop in Brighton and not on eBay.

I was reluctant to put some more film in the camera in case it was the camera that was the issue so didn’t want to waste another £18.99.

I therefore decided the best thing to do was contact Polaroid Originals and submit copies of these images and ask their opinion on what they thought the issue was.

I was surprised to get such a quick response within 15 minutes of my initial email explaining to me that they thought the film was at fault. They asked me for the serial number of the film (which is on the back at the bottom of each photo) and upon further investigation they confirmed to me that this film was manufactured by them in January 2018 but the reason for the streaks was most likely incorrect storage and the fact the film was several months old.

I’ve read in the past that the new Polaroid film can have issues with developing correctly but as time progresses and further research is carried out by Polaroid Originals, I think the film quality is improving.

I was relieved to know it wasn’t the camera that was the issue so armed with this information I went back to my local shop to let them know in case they still had any of this particular batch of film left. They informed me that it had all since been sold so I pre-warned them that they may get some other customers coming back to them confirming the same issues with the film.

Whilst I don’t doubt that my local cameral shop had stored the film correctly, I can only put the issue down to the fact that we recently had a mini heatwave in Brighton and perhaps the heat had affected the film whilst on their shelf or if refrigerated and only recently put out after the heatwave, perhaps it was just a dodgy batch of film supplied to them (we’ll never know).

I didn’t expect a refund as quite frankly I had used up all the film, plus the owner of the shop wasn’t there so I understood that an employee may not be in a position to make a decision on whether they were able to do this.

However, whilst I’m extremely pro supporting local businesses, in this instance, I think I’ll be buying a majority of my polaroid film direct from Polaroid Originals.

There is no difference in cost of the film (except for added postage and also the film is discounted if bought in bulk) and Polaroid Originals assured me that if I ever receive a pack of film I’m unhappy with from them, they’ll either provide me with a replacement pack or a complete refund. For this reason I’m happy to pay a few extra pounds for postage.

I’ve since purchased some colour and black and white film from Polaroid Originals which arrived within a few days of ordering and can see that the film has been freshly manufactured in July which is encouraging.

I’ve been extremely impressed with Polaroid Originals as a company. Their customer service is great and I would highly recommend anybody to contact them if they ever have an issue with their Polaroid Camera or film as they are really helpful.

On a final note, for all this particular films faults, I have to admit that I do really like the effect of the middle picture of the West Pier in Brighton as I feel the streaks give the photo an atmospheric, horror look. I think this works quite well with the decaying pier.