When Polaroid stopped making SX-70 film in 2005, it seemed like a terrible blow. But all was not lost. The Polaroid 600 cartridges were the same size, and although they had a couple of extra ‘nubs’, with a little bit of jiggery-pokery they could play nicely with your SX-70.
That left the rather big issue of ISO. Polaroid cameras have no ISO dial. The meter is fixed at a single value that matches the sensitivity of the film. SX-70 film was rated at ISO160, 600 film at ISO 640. The cameras came out of the factory with meters permanently set accordingly. 600 film in an SX-70 is going to be over-exposed by around a couple of stops.
The film photography community is by its very nature creative. Soon enough you could buy SX-70 ND filters on Ebay. These were thin squares of semi-translucent plastic that you slid into the cartridge over the film, and stopped the excess light hitting your film. Perfect exposures, and you just needed to remember to retrieve the filter before disposing of the empty cartridge. Sadly, a couple of years later 600 film was also discontinued and I was left with nothing but a useless bit of plastic and a sense of loss.
Now that many years later I’m using the resurgent Polaroid1 SX-70 film, I’ve recently been wondering if the same thing is possible. With SX-70 film currently abundantly available, there’s absolutely no need for this, but one thing I’ve learnt is to always have a Plan B. I suspect 600 film sells considerably more than SX-70 film. And whilst I don’t expect them to discontinue it, it’s possible they may continue to develop the 600 but leave the SX-70 where it is. I was also curious to see if the two films looked any different. Interestingly, Polaroid now sell their own ND filters.
After extensive experimentation, based on me taking….one photograph….I can’t really see any difference. But hey, I put in the effort
so you don’t have to even though nobody cares.
These are very difficult times for most, and life-changing for many. These two guys are my little golden chunks of happiness and joy that are helping me get through it. They live in the moment. Perhaps that’s something we all need to do more of.