Difference between revisions of "Polaroid SX-70"

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The '''SX-70''' was a folding [[single lens reflex]] Land Camera produced by the [[Polaroid]] Corporation in the 1970s. It was the first instant SLR in history, and the first camera to use Polaroid's new integral print film, which developed automatically without the need for intervention from the photographer - this was a revolution at the time, and a precursor to today's 600 and Spectra films.
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The '''SX-70''' is a folding [[single lens reflex]] Land Camera first produced by the [[Polaroid]] Corporation in 1972. It was the first instant SLR in history, and the first camera to use Polaroid's new integral print film, which developed automatically without the need for intervention from the photographer. This was revolutionary at the time, and a precursor to today's 600 and Spectra films.
  
The SX-70 utilized a folding body design, a 4-element 116mm F/8 glass lens, and an automatic exposure system. The lens could close focus to a distance of 10.4 inches, and had shutter speeds ranging from 1/175 to more than 10 seconds. There were a variety of models beginning in 1972 with the original SX-70, though all shared the same basic design. Later models were often equipped with a sonar autofocus system, and the [[Polaroid_SX-70_Model_3|Model 3]] departed from the other models as it was not an SLR, instead using a viewfinder cut into the mirror hood - though all other mechanics were identical.
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The SX-70 has a folding body design, a 4-element 116mm f/8 glass lens, and an automatic exposure system. The camera allows manual focus as close as 10.4 inches (26.4cm), and has a shutter speed range from 1/175s to more than 10 seconds. The top of the face contains two adjustment wheels. The right hand side one is used for focusing, the left is used for darken and light control. A variety of models was offered, though all share the same basic design. All models feature an electronically controlled '[[Flashbulbs#Polaroid_Flash_Bar|flash-bar]]' socket across the top of the camera, for insertion of a 10-times use flashbulb unit. Polaroid - as well as other companies - made external flash units that plugged into this socket. As well as the folding SLR model, a variety of non-folding, 'consumer'-type models were released that also used to SX-70 integral film.
  
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==Variations==
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|image_text= variants plus a relative, the Polaroid SLR 680
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The original cameras had a basic matte focusing screen, later revisions had a circular [[split image rangefinder]] focusing aid. Some have additional labels such as BC which were models sold at [[Kmart]] stores, or SE Special Edition models are usually black with a blue shutter release button. Special editions models tend to have a longer 5 year warranty, and well as a exposure exchange program. Sending back 8-10 unwanted photos along with a coupon would yield a new replacement pack of film.
  
All models feature an electronically controlled 'flash-bar' socket across the top of the camera, for insertion of a 10-use set of flashbulbs. Polaroid - and other companies - also made external flash units that plugged into this socket.
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In 1974 a '''SX-70 Model 2''' was available, usually with a white plastic body and brown leather skin or black body with brown skin. The [[Polaroid SX-70 Model 3]] available a year later departs from the other models since it isn't a SLR, but instead has the viewfinder cut into the mirror hood.
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In 1977, a revision of the camera was offered called '''SX-70 Land Camera Alpha 1'''. <ref name="access">Polaroid Access 50 Years: Access Press Ltd.</ref>This revision added tripod socket, as well as strap lugs. Some have additional marking such as [[Sears]] Special. Revue branded versions were distributed in [[Foto-Quelle]] stores. '''Alpha 1 Model 2''' are also available, but without the silver chrome finish, instead it uses a black plastic finish.  
  
As well as the folding SLR model, a variety of non-folding, 'consumer'-type models were released that also used to SX-70 integral film.
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Later models introduced in 1978 have an ultrasonic rangefinder [[autofocus]]ing system known as ''Sonar''. These are based on the Alpha bodies and is released as the '''SX-70 Sonar OneStep''' and '''SX-70 Sonar AutoFocus'''. Half pressing the shutter release will prefocus and the view finder will zoom. Sonar models can also be manually focused, to do so press a switch on the focusing module to release the linkage. Because they are primarily designed to be automatic focusing, the screens do not have a focusing aid. The finder does have a low light warning LED. The '''SX-70 Polasonic Autofocus''' is introduced in 1979 followed by the '''TimeZero SX-70 AutoFocus''' in 1981, again similar to previous releases Model 2's are also available with slightly different cosmetics at a lower price; distribution as Sears Special and Special Edition with similar characteristics to the previous models are also common. This camera design finished in 1982 with the [[Polaroid SLR 680]] and the [[Polaroid SLR 690]] from 1996 which uses 600 film and has electronic flash.
  
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|image_text= collapsed sx-70 sonar one step
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==Accessories and Add-Ons==
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{| class=plainlinks bgcolour="111111"
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/timmythesuk/447726176/in/pool-camerapedia/ http://farm1.static.flickr.com/214/447726176_25fe503e74_m.jpg]
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''With 1.5x Teleconverter''</div>
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|| [http://www.flickr.com/photos/timmythesuk/261378990/in/pool-camerawiki/  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/91/261378990_99fd67172e_t.jpg]<br/>  Model 2 (black)<ref>{{image_ref
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|| [http://www.flickr.com/photos/graustark/4042029469/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2662/4042029469_c0ea370154_t.jpg] <br/> Model 2 (white)<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Graustark
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|| [http://www.flickr.com/photos/martintaylor/22827036/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm1.static.flickr.com/18/22827036_3ca0c10334_t_d.jpg] <br/> [[Polaroid SX-70 Model 3|Model 3]]<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Martin Taylor
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrizzle/1763467857/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2179/1763467857_16ea9d33b4_t.jpg] <br/> Alpha 1<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Christopher Robin Roberts
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennisraines/6825294155/in/pool-camerawiki http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7002/6825294155_510cd77bb9_t.jpg] <br/> Alpha 1 SE<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Dennis Raines
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<!--Commented out image, Author no longer on Flickr, please remove if not returned by 09/2015 [http://www.flickr.com/photos/photo_foto/7071788155/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7128/7071788155_8bec2dc7ac_t.jpg] <br/> Alpha 1 Model 2<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Wolfgang Bongardt
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/polapix/2129885814/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2063/2129885814_72aefbaba7_t.jpg] <br/>  Alpha 1, Revue brand<ref>{{image_ref
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|image_by= Georg Holderied
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/37460295@N05/8457827812/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8101/8457827812_4e510e878b_t.jpg] <br/> Sonar OneStep<ref>{{image_ref
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/bomobob/2080952850/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2178/2080952850_f69c490e64_t.jpg] <br/> SE Sonar OneStep<ref>{{image_ref
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/timmythesuk/290917691/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm1.static.flickr.com/108/290917691_82742654cb_t.jpg] <br/> Sonar AutoFocus<ref>{{image_ref
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[http://www.flickr.com/photos/rigio/3677930435/in/pool-camerawiki/ http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2460/3677930435_9fc03ae7db_t.jpg] <br/> PolaSonic AutoFocus<br> Model 2<ref>{{image_ref
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==Accessories==
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{{Flickr_image
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|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/timmythesuk/447726176/in/pool-camerawiki/  
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|image=  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/214/447726176_25fe503e74_m.jpg
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|image_align= right
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|image_text= Sonar variant with 1.5x Teleconverter
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|image_by= Tim Williams
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|image_rights= non-commercial
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|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/ishoothorizon/5260640934/in/pool-camerawiki/
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|image= http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5003/5260640934_c8ed9ab303_m.jpg
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|image_align= right
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|image_text=  SX-70 Model 2
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|image_by= Romuald Swieconek
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|image_rights= with permission
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}}
 
Though expensive, the SX-70 was popular in the 1970s and retains a cult following today. As such, many unique accessories were produced for the SX-70 including:
 
Though expensive, the SX-70 was popular in the 1970s and retains a cult following today. As such, many unique accessories were produced for the SX-70 including:
  
 
* Telephoto lens - A teleconverter (pictured below) which gave an effective 1.5x conversion (to 174mm)
 
* Telephoto lens - A teleconverter (pictured below) which gave an effective 1.5x conversion (to 174mm)
 
* Close-Up kit - a set of macro-photography lenses coupled with flash adaptors/diffusers
 
* Close-Up kit - a set of macro-photography lenses coupled with flash adaptors/diffusers
* Self-timer - a clockwork timer that clips onto the side of the unit, covering the shutter release button
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* [[Self-timer]] - a clockwork timer that clips onto the side of the unit, covering the shutter release button
 
* External flash - Several models were made, including several by third parties.
 
* External flash - Several models were made, including several by third parties.
 
* Tripod Adaptor - Many earlier models of the SX-70 did not have tripod mounts built-in.
 
* Tripod Adaptor - Many earlier models of the SX-70 did not have tripod mounts built-in.
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* [[Ikelite]] made an underwater housing for the SX-70.<ref>[http://www.auction2000.se/auk/w.Object?inC=WLPA&inA=20141215_1156&inO=433 Ikelite underwater housing for SX-70], offered for sale at the [http://www.auction2000.se/auk/w.AuctionList?inL=&inC=WLPA&inA=20141215_1156&inWLPAAuctionType=AUCTION 28th Camera Auction] by [http://www.westlicht-auction.com/index.php?id=3&L=1 Westlicht Photographica Auction], on 21 November 2015.</ref>
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{{br}}
  
 
==Image manipulation==
 
==Image manipulation==
 
One feature of the SX-70's integral print film is its ability to be manipulated while still developing. Because it is an instant film and develops over a period of several minutes, artists are able to "push" the emulsion material around the photograph to produce effects somewhat like impressionist paintings.
 
One feature of the SX-70's integral print film is its ability to be manipulated while still developing. Because it is an instant film and develops over a period of several minutes, artists are able to "push" the emulsion material around the photograph to produce effects somewhat like impressionist paintings.
  
==SX-70 Film and Alternatives==
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{{Flickr_image
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|image=  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8388/8484073500_8fa747ed6a_m.jpg
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|image_align= right
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|image_text= SX-70 Film 1977
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|image_by= Geoff Harrisson
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|image_source= http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobysx70/516332764/in/pool-camerawiki/
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|image=  http://farm1.staticflickr.com/208/516332764_e5de4d3c1b_m.jpg
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|image_align=
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|image_text= Golden Gate Bridge manipulation
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|image_by= Toby Hancock
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|image_rights= with permission
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}}
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==Film issues==
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|image= http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4093/4812399202_28614bfd59.jpg
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|image_text= SX-70 with ND filter sheet on lens
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|image_by= Arty Smokes
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Polaroid's SX-70 film was last produced in December 2005, and was sold out by March, 2006. What little remains often suffers from flat batteries or dried-up chemicals. A film called '''Artistic Time Zero''' could be manipulated as the photo developed, by pushing the colours around before they set.
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SX-70 five alternatives for shooting film, four of which will allow the use of readily available, inexpensive 600/779 film in their cameras, and the fifth of which provides a private-labelled 600 variant that can be used as if it actually were the earlier film.
  
The SX-70 cameras were designed to use SX-70 or TimeZero instant film, which came in a pack which was inserted into the camera, and had 10 exposures per pack.  The film pack also contained a built in battery which powered the camera.  SX-70 film had an ISO (film speed) rating of 125, and was prized by art photographers for a unique quality which allowed the emulsion to be manipulated by pressing on the photo using a blunt object - these "SX-70 manipulations" often have a surrealistic quality.  Unfortunately, Polaroid discontinued manufacturing SX-70 film in 2006, so the film is no longer available.  This was very sad news to the legion of devoted SX-70 users who prized their unique folding cameras.
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'''Polaroid 600 Film'''
  
Fortunately, there are alternatives that allow one to use Polaroid 600 film in an SX-70 camera - 600 film is widely available at drugstores, so this is indeed good news.  Furthermore, because 600 film is much faster than the original SX-70 film, much faster exposures can be obtained which allow the user to take photos in dim lighting conditions without the use of flash. 600 film and SX-70 film are the same physical size, so a 600 film cartidge will fit in an SX-70 camera.  Polaroid put small tabs on the bottom of the 600 film cartridge to prevent people from accidentally using the wrong film, so those tabs must be removed to insert the pack into the camera.  Alternatively, one can place a playing card or similar under the film pack to aid sliding it into the camera - the card must be removed before closing the camera to allow it to operate.  
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First, some SX-70 owners modify their cameras to use Polaroid's more recent 600 film, which is easier to find despite also being out of production. SX-70 and 600 film packs are slightly different, however, as the 600 pack has some extra little 'nubs' at the front of the pack. Users can use an old photo or a dark slide from a used Polaroid film cartridge to help slide the 600 film into the camera or just remove the nubs from the cartridge using nail clippers.
  
The larger problem with using 600 film in an SX-70 is that it has a much faster film speed rating of ISO 640, and the SX-70 cameras were designed to expose for the original film which had an ISO of 125. What this means is that simply using 600 film in an SX-70 camera will cause the photos to be overexposedFortunately there are ways to make the SX-70 expose 600 film correctly.
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The real problem with using 600 or 779 film is that it is significantly faster than SX-70 film (ISO 640 as opposed to ISO 150), causing serious overexposure by the old cameras. To address this issue, some simply set the exposure dial all the way to "darken" and replace the small [[Neutral Density filter]] over the electronic eye with a similar clear filter. Polaroid itself recommends placing a 1-stop ND filter over the lens, and replacing the small ND filter over the electronic eye with a clear piece of plastic (as from a CD case). But, even with these modifications, SX-70 users may find they still need to set the exposure controls fully to "darken."  
  
'''Method 1 - Using a Neutral Density (ND) filter over the lens'''
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Second, perhaps the most effective solution is to adapt the SX-70's exposure sensors and electronics to accept the current film's higher speed. A professional conversion of the camera can be obtained from a technician on the US West Coast, and possibly others.  He adapts the electronics of the camera so that the light sensors and circuits will operate at the [[ASA]] 640 [[film speed|speed]] of the film, as opposed to the ASA 150 speed of the earlier film.  The benefit of this procedure is that the camera can take advantage of the far faster, modern film without the use of filters or other apparatus.
  
This is most likely the easiest way to use 600 film in an SX-70 camera.  Polaroid produced a two stop ND filter which can be placed over the lens of your SX-70.  This filter basically acts like sunglasses for the camera, and darkens the image by two stops so that the camera exposure is correct. These filters are available to order from various vendors through Ebay. The advantage of using this type of filter is that it is a very simple modification to the camera, as the filter simply sticks on the front of the lens. The disadvantage to this method is that the viewfinder becomes much darker, making focusing difficult, and making it difficult to see the subject. Also, the filters are not made of glass, but are made of a thin plastic film which cannot be cleaned, and is not very durable. Furthermore, placing the plastic filter degrades the quality of the image to some extent.  This method causes the camera to expose at the original ISO 125,  so the benefit of faster exposures from 600 film will not be obtained.
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|image_text= A-POWER inc. SX-70 ND lens filter
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|image_by= Studioesper
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|image_rights= with permission
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'''Method 2 - Using an ND filter over the film:'''
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Third, It has been determined that a 28 mm, threaded, ND-4 filter, or a similarly-sized, quality glass 2-stop Neutral Density [ND-4] filter can be gently screwed into the barrel or placed over the lens of a folding SX-70, to "fool" the camera into believing that the 600 film inside is actually the ASA 150 film it was intended to use. This works quite well, and the cost for a good filter is between US$30 and $85. There is also a thin gel filter available, which is glued onto the front of the folding SX-70's lens. One of these typically costs about US$15, but it is far less durable than a good glass filter. The disadvantage of most glass filters is that [a] they must be removed in order to close the camera [and reinstalled for the next use], and [b] they darken the view through the SLR viewfinder to the extent that focusing is almost impossible in low-light situations.
  
This is a similar approach to method 1, where the exposure is corrected with a 2 stop ND filterUnlike method 1, this approach involves placing the filter directly over the film pack, instead of over the lensSheets of ND film can be purchased, cut to the size of the film pack, and taped or glued on top of the film pack prior to loading it in the camera. The advantage to this method over method 1 is that the viewfinder remains bright, and so focusing and composition is easy. The disadvantage to this method is that there is still some image degradation resulting from placing a filter over the film. Also, it is easy to damage the film when sliding the filter into place.  If you do not have the expertise to do this yourself, you can purchase film from a third party manufacturer which already has an ND filter placed over the film. This third party film is known as "SX-70 Blend" film, and is a ISO 640 film with a filter placed over the pack - it is not manipulatable like the original SX-70 film, and is also very expensive compared to standard 600 film, but is a good alternative if you do not wish to do modifications yourself and can afford the expense of purchasing this film.
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Fourth, there is a laminated film filter that can be slipped into the 600 film cartridge before it is installed into the cameraIt is slid into the pack above the dark slide, but under the cartridge's edgesIn use, it is directly in contact with the photo film, as was the dark slide, so that there is no space between it and the photo to permit light bending and distortion. The "PackFilter" is removable when the cartridge is empty, and can be used indefinitely. It is washable, in the event of too much handling, and the ND film is well protected with a special, heavy, durable polyester laminate on both sides. Even so, it is less than 10mm thick.  It is also somewhat more than ND-4, since the 600 film is actually ASA 640 [more than two stops faster than TimeZero film], and the 30-year-old SX-70's have often slowed down a bit over time, increasing their tendency to overexpose. Another advantage is that they can be used in any camera intended for SX-70 film, not just folding SX-70 SLR's. Their disadvantage is that they are easy to throw away with an exposed film cartridge.
  
'''Method 3 - Removing the Electric Eye filter:'''
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Fifth, and finally, an Austrian company called [[polapremium|Unsaleable]] has contracted with the Polaroid film plant in the Netherlands to Private Label a variant of 600 film for them, using the old TimeZero film cartridge design, without the annoying "nubs".  As described by its US distributor, below, it works beautifully, on the same basic principle as the PackFilter, above.  Its only disadvantage is that is costs more than twice as much as 600 film purchased from any mass merchandiser.
  
This approach is favored by many SX-70 users, since it requires no added filter in the light path of the camera, and is one of the easiest methods to use 600 film in the SX-70.  Be aware, however, that it does not work on all SX-70 cameras. To use an SX-70 this way requires two steps - the first step is to remove the filter in front of the electric eye on the camera. This is easily done by prying off the chrome ring which surrounds the filter using a thin pocketknife or similar object. One the ring is removed, the filter falls out.  The chrome retaining ring can simply be snapped back into place, and the filter should be stored in a safe place in case you ever want to restore the camera to normal.  This procedure is reversible (i.e. not a permanent modification), and takes only a few minutes to do).  The second step involves setting the camera's exposure control all the way to the "darken" setting whenever taking photosUsing the camera in this manner will give correct exposures except in very bright sunlight, which may cause the photos to still be slightly overexposed.  You must be aware, also, that the camera resets the exposure control every time the camera is opened, so one must be mindful to set the camera all the way to "darken" every time the camera is opened.  Furthermore, the exposure cannot be darkened if it is too bright, since the camera is already set all the way to the "darken" setting.  This method has the advantage of providing much faster exposures (allowing photographs to be taken in dim lighting conditions without flash), and also does not degrade the image quality with a filter in the lightpath.
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'''Polaroid SX-70 Blend Film'''
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{{Flickr_image
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|image= http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2195/2182244908_621db991a8_m.jpg
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|image_align= right
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|image_text= SX-70 Blend film pack filter
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|image_by= Graustark
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In October 2006, a brand new SX-70 film was introduced. According to its producer, it uses an internal neutral-density filter and modified chemistry to yield vibrant colors, strong contrast, and high resolution. This professional-grade film was made by Polaroid in the Netherlands. As the cartridge is made to its original specifications and the ND filter is placed over the film and not the lens, it allows for full and normal use of all the camera's functionsThe only disadvantage is that this film is not "manipulable" as was the original SX-70 film, a disappointing loss to artists who could make original prints look like paintings simply by manipulating the gels and chemicals inside the photo by carefully pushing them around.
  
'''Method 4 - Electronically modified cameras:'''
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==The Impossible Project==
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A company known as [[Impossible|The Impossible Project]], has introduced the newly-manufactured SX-70 compatible film in black & white on March 22, 2010, with the old Polaroid factory in Enschede being the manufacturing base.
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==References==
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<references/>
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==External links==
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* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Wzv-vgfsk The Film] about the SX-70 on YouTube
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* [http://www.chemie.unibas.ch/~holder/SX70.html George's SX-70 page]
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* SX-70 cameras on [http://www.rwhirled.com/landlist/landhome.htm The Land List].
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* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/11961199@N00/ SX-70 group on Flickr].
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* [http://www.sx70.dk SX70.dk] - A Danish SX70 Polaroid Gallery by Lars Bregendahl Bro.
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* [http://www.polanoid.net Polanoid]  - A huge and ever-growing collection of more than 80,000 Polaroid photos.
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* [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard.php?id_appareil=1228 SX-70], [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/album_notices_P_Z/POLAROID_SX_70LANDCAMERAALPH/index.html SX-70 Alpha], [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard.php?id_appareil=475 SX-70 model 2], [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard.php?id_appareil=10247 SX-70 Sonar] and [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/accesnotices/html/lire_repertoire?repert=POLAROID_SX_70LANDCAMERA&marque=Polaroid&modele=Sx-70%20%28mode%20d%20emploi%20court%29 Short SX-70 manual (French)] on [http://www.collection-appareils.fr/general/html/francais.php www.collection-appareils.fr] by Sylvain Halgand (in French)
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* [http://www.kamerasamling.nl/kamera.php?ID=223&t=e Polaroid SX-70 Alpha Gold] in [http://www.kamerasamling.nl/?t=e Andrys Stienstra's camera collection]
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* Information and online store of [http://www.the-impossible-project.com The Impossible Project].
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* [https://internoinbakelite.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/la-pietra-miliare-polaroid-sx-70/ Polaroid SX-70] on [https://internoinbakelite.wordpress.com Interno in bakelite]
  
This is by far the best type way to use 600 film in an SX-70.  The SX-70 camera can have it's circuits modified so that it correctly exposes 600 film normally, and can have it's film chamber modified so that a 600 pack fits without trimming off the tabs.  The advantage to this type of camera is that it will expose the film correctly without the use of filters, and the 600 cartridge will fit without having to trim off the tabs.  Full exposure control is retained, and one does not have to worry about forgetting to set the exposure to "darken" each time the camera is opened.  Furthermore, this type of modification allows the camera to benefit from faster exposures, as it causes the camera to function at a true ISO 640 film speed.  These modifications are very difficult to perform except by experienced camera technicians, and are beyond the scope of this article.  However, there is a west coast camera technicial who offers the modifications.
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[[Category: Polaroid|SX-70]]
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[[Category: Folding SLR]]
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[[Category: Folded light path]]
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[[Category: Polaroid|SX-70]]
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[[Category:US instant cameras]]
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[[Category: P]]
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[[Category: S|SX-70]]

Latest revision as of 11:37, 31 October 2017


The SX-70 is a folding single lens reflex Land Camera first produced by the Polaroid Corporation in 1972. It was the first instant SLR in history, and the first camera to use Polaroid's new integral print film, which developed automatically without the need for intervention from the photographer. This was revolutionary at the time, and a precursor to today's 600 and Spectra films.

The SX-70 has a folding body design, a 4-element 116mm f/8 glass lens, and an automatic exposure system. The camera allows manual focus as close as 10.4 inches (26.4cm), and has a shutter speed range from 1/175s to more than 10 seconds. The top of the face contains two adjustment wheels. The right hand side one is used for focusing, the left is used for darken and light control. A variety of models was offered, though all share the same basic design. All models feature an electronically controlled 'flash-bar' socket across the top of the camera, for insertion of a 10-times use flashbulb unit. Polaroid - as well as other companies - made external flash units that plugged into this socket. As well as the folding SLR model, a variety of non-folding, 'consumer'-type models were released that also used to SX-70 integral film.

Variations

The original cameras had a basic matte focusing screen, later revisions had a circular split image rangefinder focusing aid. Some have additional labels such as BC which were models sold at Kmart stores, or SE Special Edition models are usually black with a blue shutter release button. Special editions models tend to have a longer 5 year warranty, and well as a exposure exchange program. Sending back 8-10 unwanted photos along with a coupon would yield a new replacement pack of film.

In 1974 a SX-70 Model 2 was available, usually with a white plastic body and brown leather skin or black body with brown skin. The Polaroid SX-70 Model 3 available a year later departs from the other models since it isn't a SLR, but instead has the viewfinder cut into the mirror hood.

In 1977, a revision of the camera was offered called SX-70 Land Camera Alpha 1. [1]This revision added tripod socket, as well as strap lugs. Some have additional marking such as Sears Special. Revue branded versions were distributed in Foto-Quelle stores. Alpha 1 Model 2 are also available, but without the silver chrome finish, instead it uses a black plastic finish.

Later models introduced in 1978 have an ultrasonic rangefinder autofocusing system known as Sonar. These are based on the Alpha bodies and is released as the SX-70 Sonar OneStep and SX-70 Sonar AutoFocus. Half pressing the shutter release will prefocus and the view finder will zoom. Sonar models can also be manually focused, to do so press a switch on the focusing module to release the linkage. Because they are primarily designed to be automatic focusing, the screens do not have a focusing aid. The finder does have a low light warning LED. The SX-70 Polasonic Autofocus is introduced in 1979 followed by the TimeZero SX-70 AutoFocus in 1981, again similar to previous releases Model 2's are also available with slightly different cosmetics at a lower price; distribution as Sears Special and Special Edition with similar characteristics to the previous models are also common. This camera design finished in 1982 with the Polaroid SLR 680 and the Polaroid SLR 690 from 1996 which uses 600 film and has electronic flash.


Accessories

Though expensive, the SX-70 was popular in the 1970s and retains a cult following today. As such, many unique accessories were produced for the SX-70 including:

  • Telephoto lens - A teleconverter (pictured below) which gave an effective 1.5x conversion (to 174mm)
  • Close-Up kit - a set of macro-photography lenses coupled with flash adaptors/diffusers
  • Self-timer - a clockwork timer that clips onto the side of the unit, covering the shutter release button
  • External flash - Several models were made, including several by third parties.
  • Tripod Adaptor - Many earlier models of the SX-70 did not have tripod mounts built-in.
  • Ikelite made an underwater housing for the SX-70.[11]


Image manipulation

One feature of the SX-70's integral print film is its ability to be manipulated while still developing. Because it is an instant film and develops over a period of several minutes, artists are able to "push" the emulsion material around the photograph to produce effects somewhat like impressionist paintings.

Film issues

Polaroid's SX-70 film was last produced in December 2005, and was sold out by March, 2006. What little remains often suffers from flat batteries or dried-up chemicals. A film called Artistic Time Zero could be manipulated as the photo developed, by pushing the colours around before they set. SX-70 five alternatives for shooting film, four of which will allow the use of readily available, inexpensive 600/779 film in their cameras, and the fifth of which provides a private-labelled 600 variant that can be used as if it actually were the earlier film.

Polaroid 600 Film

First, some SX-70 owners modify their cameras to use Polaroid's more recent 600 film, which is easier to find despite also being out of production. SX-70 and 600 film packs are slightly different, however, as the 600 pack has some extra little 'nubs' at the front of the pack. Users can use an old photo or a dark slide from a used Polaroid film cartridge to help slide the 600 film into the camera or just remove the nubs from the cartridge using nail clippers.

The real problem with using 600 or 779 film is that it is significantly faster than SX-70 film (ISO 640 as opposed to ISO 150), causing serious overexposure by the old cameras. To address this issue, some simply set the exposure dial all the way to "darken" and replace the small Neutral Density filter over the electronic eye with a similar clear filter. Polaroid itself recommends placing a 1-stop ND filter over the lens, and replacing the small ND filter over the electronic eye with a clear piece of plastic (as from a CD case). But, even with these modifications, SX-70 users may find they still need to set the exposure controls fully to "darken."

Second, perhaps the most effective solution is to adapt the SX-70's exposure sensors and electronics to accept the current film's higher speed. A professional conversion of the camera can be obtained from a technician on the US West Coast, and possibly others. He adapts the electronics of the camera so that the light sensors and circuits will operate at the ASA 640 speed of the film, as opposed to the ASA 150 speed of the earlier film. The benefit of this procedure is that the camera can take advantage of the far faster, modern film without the use of filters or other apparatus.

Third, It has been determined that a 28 mm, threaded, ND-4 filter, or a similarly-sized, quality glass 2-stop Neutral Density [ND-4] filter can be gently screwed into the barrel or placed over the lens of a folding SX-70, to "fool" the camera into believing that the 600 film inside is actually the ASA 150 film it was intended to use. This works quite well, and the cost for a good filter is between US$30 and $85. There is also a thin gel filter available, which is glued onto the front of the folding SX-70's lens. One of these typically costs about US$15, but it is far less durable than a good glass filter. The disadvantage of most glass filters is that [a] they must be removed in order to close the camera [and reinstalled for the next use], and [b] they darken the view through the SLR viewfinder to the extent that focusing is almost impossible in low-light situations.

Fourth, there is a laminated film filter that can be slipped into the 600 film cartridge before it is installed into the camera. It is slid into the pack above the dark slide, but under the cartridge's edges. In use, it is directly in contact with the photo film, as was the dark slide, so that there is no space between it and the photo to permit light bending and distortion. The "PackFilter" is removable when the cartridge is empty, and can be used indefinitely. It is washable, in the event of too much handling, and the ND film is well protected with a special, heavy, durable polyester laminate on both sides. Even so, it is less than 10mm thick. It is also somewhat more than ND-4, since the 600 film is actually ASA 640 [more than two stops faster than TimeZero film], and the 30-year-old SX-70's have often slowed down a bit over time, increasing their tendency to overexpose. Another advantage is that they can be used in any camera intended for SX-70 film, not just folding SX-70 SLR's. Their disadvantage is that they are easy to throw away with an exposed film cartridge.

Fifth, and finally, an Austrian company called Unsaleable has contracted with the Polaroid film plant in the Netherlands to Private Label a variant of 600 film for them, using the old TimeZero film cartridge design, without the annoying "nubs". As described by its US distributor, below, it works beautifully, on the same basic principle as the PackFilter, above. Its only disadvantage is that is costs more than twice as much as 600 film purchased from any mass merchandiser.

Polaroid SX-70 Blend Film

In October 2006, a brand new SX-70 film was introduced. According to its producer, it uses an internal neutral-density filter and modified chemistry to yield vibrant colors, strong contrast, and high resolution. This professional-grade film was made by Polaroid in the Netherlands. As the cartridge is made to its original specifications and the ND filter is placed over the film and not the lens, it allows for full and normal use of all the camera's functions. The only disadvantage is that this film is not "manipulable" as was the original SX-70 film, a disappointing loss to artists who could make original prints look like paintings simply by manipulating the gels and chemicals inside the photo by carefully pushing them around.

The Impossible Project

A company known as The Impossible Project, has introduced the newly-manufactured SX-70 compatible film in black & white on March 22, 2010, with the old Polaroid factory in Enschede being the manufacturing base.

References

External links