8 Exposures Vol. 3: Hands On With A Vintage Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera

I recently pulled the trigger on a camera that I’ve been wanting for some time now. No, not the latest Canon or Nikon DSLR, instead, the Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, originally released in 1972. The SX-7o is considered to be the crowning achievement of Polaroid founder, Edward H. Land. In fact, according to photography and Polaroid enthusiast, Georg Holderied, the SX-70 is one of the “most sophisticated consumer articles ever made. It is the down to earth equivalent of the Hubble space telescope.” Intense words for a gnarly camera. Intrigued by its unique hardware and foldable design, I took the SX-70 our for a spin during a recent camping trip at Bellows Field Beach Park, located on a beautiful stretch of beach in Waimanalo. Impossible PX 100 Silver Shade Cool Film film was used.

Me holding my Polaroid SX-70. Photo by Marvin Chandra.

Me holding my Polaroid SX-70. Photo by Marvin Chandra.

Polaroid Hardware. Impossible Project Shield. Vintage Case. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Polaroid Hardware. Impossible Project Shield. Vintage Case. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Some of my thoughts:

  1. Shooting with the SX-70 is a lot of work. There so much involved in the photo taking process, before the instant photo is in your hand.
  2. Experimenting with the Light/Dark wheel is a must. I played around with added darkness and it really does help with contrast and saturation. Also, remember that each time you close and then re-open the camera, the Light/Dark wheel is reset. At roughly $3 a photo, experimenting can get expensive.
  3. The PX Shade film is especially sensitive to light and so the Impossible PX Shade is a must. It’ll help to keep your Impossible film shielded as it is being ejected from the camera. It’s a bit cumbersome, since it constantly sticks out, unlike the Impossible Frog Tongue used for the 600 models. Note: While researching this article, I found out that a frog tongue shade was designed specifically for use with folding SLRs like the SX-70. I want one!
  4. I’d recommend shielding your Impossible Film from light for at least 30 minutes after it is ejected.
  5. To prevent your black and white photos from changing into sepia toned images, pick up a Impossible Dry Age Kit. The Dry Age Kit will help with the drying process of the film. The film is especially sensitive to humid conditions like we have in Hawaii. My suggestion is to drop your photos into the Dry Age Kit as soon as you shoot and eject the film. It is recommended that the images are kept in the kit for at least one month.

There is a preconceived inconvenience of shooting with a vintage camera like the Polaroid SX-70. Although it spits out instantly developing film, it is far from a point-and-shoot camera. It also lacks the digital sophistication and unlimited exposure potential of a DSLR. However, this lack of function adds to the joy of shooting. Shooting digital is great, but the process of really thinking about a shot and then experiencing the anticipation of waiting for the film to develop is captivating. Film is not dead. Film is alive and well and I am happy that I can feel it, hear it, and see it.

To see more photos shot from SX-70’s, check out this awesome Flickr Group. For your Hawaii analog photo needs, please visit the Treehouse creative shop. They’ve got an awesome brick-and-mortar shop in Honolulu with awesome vintage cameras and film for sale.

I used the first exposure on Marvin. It was a thrill to push the shutter on the SX-70 for the first time. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I used the first exposure on Marvin. It was a thrill to push the shutter on the SX-70 for the first time. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I got some of the best results from the film pack with this shot of Joel. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I got some of the best results from the film pack with this shot of Joel. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I got a funky chemical blot on this shot. I think the reason being that I had placed the photo down while still attached to the camera. The added pressure caused the uneven chemical flow. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I got a funky chemical blot on this shot. I think the reason being that I had placed the photo down while still attached to the camera. The added pressure caused the uneven chemical flow. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is one of my favorite shots from the set. This looks like it was taken straight out of 1974. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

This is one of my favorite shots from the set. This looks like it was taken straight out of 1974. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

On a tree stub. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

On a tree stub. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

The tents all set up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The tents all set up. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Starting to grill. This shot was taken as the sun was setting. THe lack of light caused for an increased shutter and thus a shaky image. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Starting to grill. This shot was taken as the sun was setting. THe lack of light caused for an increased shutter and thus a shaky image. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Tree peeking. A bit eerie, actually. Again, the lack of light caused the shaky image. Photo by Marvin Chandra.

Tree peeking. A bit eerie, actually. Again, the lack of light caused the shaky image. Photo by Marvin Chandra.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.