Even though the Polaroid instant process was developed already in the late 30ies and the first Land Camera was introduced in 1948, it wasn’t until the SX-70 arrived in 1972 that instant photography really took off. The Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera was (and still is) not only a beautiful camera, it was also the first SLR-type camera to use instant film. And back in the day, the film it used was kind of revolutionary, as it developed all by itself.
In fact, the SX-70 film was the precursor to many modern types of instant film. Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could go back in time and witness how this then-revolutionary camera was being used for the first time? Thanks to LIFE photographer Co Rentmeester, we actually can. LIFE has just publishes a gallery of images that Rentmeester took with the camera while preparing an article on its creator Edwin Land in 1972–before the camera was actually available on the market.
So the pictures you see in the LIFE gallery were actually some of the first taken with the camera, before it became popular and “helped to define the early Seventies” as LIFE puts it. Despite their obvious age, apparent in the various patterns of cracks that many of them are covered with, the pictures still preserve a beautiful range of colors and tonality, which is pretty amazing of over 40-year-old instant photos.
Today, the SX-70 is seeing a renaissance thanks to the folks over at the Impossible Project, who have made SX-70 film available again. If you’d like to own one, be prepared to pay ridiculous prices for a fully working model. But then again, you’re buying a piece of photography history.