Previoulsy on Short Stories (I’ve always wanted to say that), I mentioned using Polaroid 600 colour film in the SX-70, with an ND filter to correct the exposure. After shooting the whole pack I feel it fairs poorly against the SX-70 film. All eight shots have a distinct magenta cast and a washed-out look. I’ll be sticking to the SX-70 film in future.
But I couldn’t pass up the chance to try the 600 black and white film, and in a rare moment of photographic cooperation Jane’s daughters helped me out. You can get in really close with the SX-70 Sonar, but you’ve got to nail the focus when the depth of field is that narrow. I always try to make the scans of my Polaroids match the prints as closely as possible, but in the case of these two shots I think the originals have a slighter warmer tone. It’s a nice feel, and I’m looking forward to shooting the remaining six shots in the pack.
Ella & Rosie / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid 600 Black and White Film with Polaroid ND filter
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.
The UK took a big step on Saturday. Most businesses were allowed to open up again, albeit with strict social distancing measures. Pubs reopening was undoubtedly a big thing for many people, although I’m sure half the people there were tabloid reporters waiting to take photos of the anticipated carnage. Whilst there were issues, it does seem like most people behaved sensibly and followed the rules. For myself, I’m not eager to rush back. I’m watching to see if infections rise again in the coming weeks. Besides, since lockdown, I’ve discovered you can drink at home ’til you fall over, for a fraction of the cost and without waking up next morning with a half-eaten kebab on your pillow. Why didn’t someone tell me this years ago?
Popping out for a sandwich today, I was surprised to find myself quite emotional at the sight of people in the cafes again. But for me, as the restrictions slowly loosen, the big thing is that I get to spend a lot more time with the dogs again. And Jane, of course. And I’m not just saying that because she sometimes reads this. Really.
Coco The Spaniel / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals SX-70 Black & White Film