Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hip at Last?

...or midlife crisis? Or lucky coincidence? Probably more of the latter. I stumbled into an original Polaroid SX70 yesterday completely unexpectedly and grabbed it if only for he eBay potential. I still have a few boxes of the expired film stash that I found last year, although it's the wrong speed for this camera, it can be made to fit, and after a failed test shot, I managed a blurry one of one of the flowering bushes in our yard:

Bottlebrush Plant

Overexposure and old film makes it hard to pick out what you're seeing: here's a black-and-white conversion of the same shot:

Bottlebrush Plant (b&w conversion)

The SX70 is desirable among the hipster crowd, possibly because it's one of the few Polaroid cameras that is a "reflex" model: that is, when you look through the viewfinder, a set of mirrors and lenses is letting you peek through the actual lens, allowing a fine degree of focus -- much finer than the rainbow-striped "One Step" or "The Button" models that it seems like everyone had in the 70's and 80's. It's a cool little camera, and while trying to figure out how to fit the wrong film inside* I found this pretty-awesome version of the old SX70 ad with "Garbageman" by The Cramps overlaid:

(caution: may cause unexplained rocking out)

Turns out the original video was directed by the infamous Eames brothers, best-known to me of the creators of the Eames Lounge Chair, which was the chair of choice of my late photography-nut grandfather. The Eames name has become a shorthand to mean "mid-century design" and has a certain degree of hipness to it as well.

Suddenly I'm cool all over the place.

* The 600 film packs have little nubs on the bottom that get caught up in a tensioning spring in the SX70. You can use a playing card wedged under the film to make a little ramp as you slide it in, then remove the card to seat it properly. 600 film is faster than the original SX70 film, and there are instructions in the nets about using filters to trick the SX70 sensors into compensating, though it's not strictly necessary.


Duffy Moon said...

This post is vaguely like watching that old show "Connections" with the hipness dial turned all the way up.

(word verif. = "puslypm", which is latin for "something you don't want")

mpclemens said...

James Burke in a wide-collared leisure suit? Duffy, I can only hope to attain a modicum of that level of Cool.

Joe V said...

I have an original SX-70 with its brown carrying case and shoulder strap, I think there's even a user's manual.

May have to check out the Impossible Project's film, but from what I've read it's not the same Polaroid quality. Still, the SX-70 is technically such a cool camera.


rino breebaart said...

Wow! I too have this camera! In the leather case. I remember my folks pointing that ugly flash strip at me when I was doing swimming lessons in the early 80s. I've thought about hoisting it onto Ebay for a while, as I haven't seen any film around for a while, and I remember there was some loading issue with it. But I might just hold onto it for a bit longer... Great post!

Unknown said...

Plus, what's not to like about fake wood grain?

Anonymous said...

can I buy it from you? PUHLEASE?!

You have no idea how much I've wanted one of those that doesn't cost way to much (darn hipsters ruining everything) on ebay.

You are a lucky man.