Polaroid: The revival of a legend | Polaroid Land Camera SX-70 models review | Ignacio Linares

Hi to all, first I am going to introduce myself. I am Ignacio Linares and I come from Spain but work as a photographer in Germany.

Part of my work as a Photographer is to buy and test new cameras. I like 35mm but since 3 years ago I discovered medium format and I try to find as many cameras as I can to test, fix and resell them. I keep the ones I feel more comfortable with.

On last January I found a Polaroid Land SX-70 camera from a private vendor. I was getting acquainted with it before but, as it is a bit expensive to shoot a Polaroid nowadays, I didn´t really get into this world up until now.

The only cameras I had used for instant photography were the plastic ones that take 600 type film. With the new SX-70 in my hands, things got a bit more serious and I started doing some homework to see what kind of film I could use with it. At the moment only Impossible makes film suitable for this camera.

I shot two or three packs of film in the last 3 years and always with a bit of catastrophic results, but with this camera in my hand I decided to really get into it.

In the last three months, I made some research to find out that there are some different models of this SLR polaroid camera.

The SX-70 cameras were introduced for the first time in 1972. It's a reflex camera that allows you to capture what you see through the viewfinder, unlike most (or all) 600 cameras made of plastic that have a viewfinder on the side of the camera, made of plastic. This one has a 4 glass elements lens that lend a better quality to the photos.

The very first cameras in this series were the silver ones with some stripes on the lens, without the distance markers and with a split image focusing help in the finder. After the split image focusing screen was introduced, it became a standard feature for all SX-70´s and Polaroids offered a free service for replacing the screens of the old models.

Then, some years later, along comes Model 2, with new trimming colors and features, but there were mostly aesthetical changes: black, white and silver trimmings, optional tripod screw mount and a lot of different accesories, like bags, flash bars, flash holders, etc.

In the mid 70´s they started making the Model 3, which was not an SLR camera anymore as it came with a different viewfinder and no mirror. In my opinion, a big mistake from Polaroid.

Also during mid 70´s a new generation of Polaroids hit the shelves under the Alpha and Alpha 1 denominations. These models had an electronical improvement that made a more precise assessment of the scene light with the built-in lightmeter. In the older models, if you had a flash bar mounted but enough light in the scene (as in a back lit situation) the flash wouldn't fire. With the Alpha models, the use of flash in these situations was easily resolved. An Alpha 1 Model 2 in mint condition is actually the model I kept for my own shooting.

Then, during late 70´s-early 80´s Autofocus SX-70´s saw the light. Again with different trimming options and especial editions. The top of the line models for this generation of autofocus cameras were the 680 and 690, which even included a built-in flash.

After all the research I made for these cameras, I started buying these models and tested with Impossible film. After a while, I would sell them to finance my Polaroid experience. In these four months I bought, fixed, changed colors and used at least 15 different SX-70 models. In my experience, there's not too much of a difference in shooting with them all if you are a casual shooter.

As with all photography, Impossible film has a learning curve that is not precisely easy in the beginning, but, once you get to understand how it works, you can get beautiful and pleasant results. I would also like to make some recommendations about how to shoot with these cameras, but I will leave that for a second soon to come article.

Ignacio Linares is a Spanish photographer, based in Germany. You can see some of his work in his FSC gallery, his Flickr account or in his personal page