These days, it’s possible to buy a number of different Polaroid instant cameras new off the shelf. That’s largely thanks to the retro resurgence that has buoyed interest in everything from vinyl records to analog synthesizers. However, if you’re truly old-school, you might still be rocking a vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera. Thankfully, there’s a way to convert these old rigs to work properly with the more popular modern 600 film.
The interesting thing about the SX-70 camera design is that its shutter speed and aperture setting are essentially linked together as the aperture and shutter assembly are combined into one unit with a variable tear-drop shaped opening. Thus, the timing of the shutter opening and closing and the extent to which it opens are what determines exposure and aperture.
Thankfully, [Jake Bright] has learned a lot about these unique cameras and exactly how this complex system operates. He shares his tips on firstly restoring the camera to factory-grade operation, and then the methods in which they may be converted to work with modern film. Fundamentally, it’s about changing capacitors or resistors to change the shutter/aperture timing. However, do it blindly and you’ll have little success. You first need to understand the camera’s mechanics, pneumatics, and its “Electric Eye” control system before you can get things dialed in just so.
We’ve seldom seen such a great deep dive into a camera outside of full-fat engineering documentation. [Jake] should be commended on his deep understanding and command of these fine instant cameras from yesteryear. May the Polaroid picture never die. Video after the break. Continue reading “Converting A Polaroid SX70 Camera To Use 600 Film”
Professional or amateur, doing things the hard way doesn’t always make for better results. Take photography as an example. Once upon a time, the success or failure of what happened during the instant that the camera’s shutter was open was only known hours or days later after processing the film. Ruin the shot with bad exposure or suboptimal composition? Too bad. Miss a once-in-a-lifetime moment as a result? Ouch.
Once instant photography came along, pros were quick to adopt it as a quick and dirty way to check everything before committing the shot to higher-quality film. Camera manufacturers made special instant film cartridges that could be swapped for roll film, and charged through the teeth for them. Unwilling to shell out big bucks, [Isaac Blankensmith] hacked his own instant film back for his Hasselblad medium-format camera. The unlucky donor camera was a Fujifilm Instax, a camera that uses film packs similar to those used by Polaroid and Kodak instant cameras from the 70s and 80s. Several of these cameras were dissected – carefully; those flash capacitors pack a wallop – and stripped down to the essential film-handling bits. An adapter was fabricated from laser-cut acrylic to mount the film back to the Hasselblad, with care taken to match the original focal plane. The shots are surprisingly good; despite a minor light leak from the adapter, they’re fine for the purpose. The best part: the whole build took just 48 hours from conception to first shots.
Speaking of Polaroid, we’ve featured quite a few hacks of Edwin Land’s venerable cameras over the year. From replacing the film with a printer to an upgrade to 35-mm film, instant cameras in general and Polaroids in particular seem to have quite a following among hackers.
Thanks for tipping us off, [macsimski].