museum of obsolete technology
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Model 100 (1963-1966)

SX-70 (1973)

Polaroid SX-70 (1973)

Purchased on eBay, late 1990s.

The Polaroid SX-70 was the first camera to use what came to be called "integral print film," which (unlike previous instant film) did not require being pulled out of the camera after exposure, and peeled apart after a specified interval. Instead, it was automatically ejected from the camera and developed right before your eyes. Like magic!

The original SX-70 model was made from 1972 to 1977. During that period, small changes were made, primarily in the viewfinder. Made on Oct 17, 1973, this camera is from the middle period of production - earlier cameras had a plain glass viewfinder, middle-production units like this one had a split-image rangefinder circle, and later production examples additionally had a focus scale. SX-70 models after 1977 retained the same general design, but added additional features (among which was sonar auto-focus). The original model retailed for $180 ($1,110 in today's money).

The camera folds flat, and when opened (by pulling up on the viewfinder housing) is held on the palm of an outstretched hand. While peering through the viewfinder, the user can focus with a small wheel atop the right side of the front bezel. Pressing the button below this will take the picture. The original SX-70 is a true SLR - when the shutter is pushed, a mirror flips up to direct the image onto the film, rather than the viewfinder. A later, less expensive model (the Model 3) dispensed with this arrangement, and had a conventional viewfinder.

A slot across the top of the front bezel accepts Flashbars (a row of flashbulbs in a single package, which are used sequentially), and third-party electronic flash units like the Nissin unit pictured. The museum has nine unused flashbars in its collection, still in their packages, as well as two partially used ones.

Other items offered by Polaroid for the SX-70 included few cases (including the one pictured - with room for the camera, a pack or two of film, and two flashbars, and a set of six accessories, pictured here in five boxes:

  • Lens shade
  • Close-up lens and flash diffuser
  • Remote shutter button
  • Accessory holder
  • Clamp-on tripod mount

These boxes were originally offered together in a larger presentation box.

Film for the original SX-70 was discontinued by Polaroid in 2005, but the Impossible Project reverse-engineered the film in 2008, and having recently gotten the rights to use the name "Polaroid Originals," the firm now sells refurbished cameras, some new cameras of their own design, and film for the SX-70 and later integral-film Polaroid cameras.