Vintage Camera Review: The Polaroid SX70

The Polaroid SX70 is one of the most iconic and well known analog film cameras ever made. It was designed to be simple to use, compact, yet versatile. In today’s culture, it is a camera often associated with the hipster culture, and many people don’t even know that film is still made for it. Using film from the Impossible Project and Polaroid originals, your Polaroid SX70 is an option bound to not only look great on a bookcase, but also will be fun to use. Many companies tend to buy them up, refurbish them and then flip them for sale.

Polaroid SX70 Tech Specs

If you want to read more about the Polaroid SX70, you’re best off just heading over to Camerapedia.

Ergonomics

The Polaroid SX70 is very much unlike anything else out there. It’s an SLR–there is a mirror, it reflexes, and it uses a single lens. The lens is permanently attached to the Polaroid SX70 and depending on what version you’ve got it can either autofocus or manual focus.

Here’s what the Polaroid SX70 looks like when it is in the shooting configuration. This version has an autofocus module attached–that’s the really big thing up top of the SX70. The red button is used to take a photo and the black part is tied into a dial that lets you shoot with exposure compensation.

To open up and load the Polaroid SX70, you press a button on the side and then simply slip some film into it.

Build Quality

Now, when you use the Polaroid SX70 you should know, due to them being such old cameras, their build quality may greatly vary. They’re not designed to be used in the rain because they have electronics inside. They’re also not designed to be roughed around a whole lot either. Big problems that tend to plague the Polaroid SX70 have to do with the battery. The Polaroid SX70 shoots what’s called integral film–which has the batteries in the film pack itself. When someone doesn’t use the Polaroid SX70 for a while, the batteries die and decay. Then the acid inside spills all over the internals and destroys the motherboard, amongst creating other problems.

But if you get a camera that has been refurbished, then you’re in better luck. Expect to pay a pretty penny due to how much work goes into them and how rare they are.

Ease of Use

The Polaroid SX70 can be a bit difficult to use if you’re unfamiliar with these cameras. Unfolding it is pretty simple and just requires gentle pulls on the right spots. Focusing is easy enough as you look through the viewfinder. Loading is pretty simple too as is folding the camera back up for travel. But you should really know how to do all this to begin with before you go about using the camera. There are more than enough videos on YouTube that will teach you this.

Image Quality

We tested the Polaroid SX70 with Impossible Project film. And I’m really happy to report the autofocus is really good. This focusing module uses sonar to focus, and so in low lighting it won’t really have any sort of trouble. But if you’re trying to focus on something through glass, it will be a different issue. Overall though, the Polaroid SX70 still shoots sharp photos that look great even today.

Conclusions

There are lots of shops that can do refurbishing. Now, before you go ahead and purchase one though you should know about the variety of other options out there. The Mint Camera SLR670 has attachments that will let you use flash and have shutter speed control, for example. Those are perhaps the most famous. Other cameras have their own variations and uses. Personally, I like the Polaroid SX70, but I prefer the manual focus options just a bit more as they give me control over the shutter speeds.