NOTE: You will find the YouTube video version of Using Contrast Filters with Polaroid SX-70 Black and White Film at the end of this post.
Polaroid recently introduced the Now+ camera, a box-style camera based on the original OneStep design but with one unique feature: using the Polaroid app, which can be freely downloaded for both iOS and Android devices, the camera’s shutter speeds and apertures can be manually controlled. As a user of MiNT’s SLR670-S camera, which is the only other Polaroid camera to offer manual controls, I was curious to test out the Now+. In fact, I was more than curious; I was hopeful that the Now+ would offer a feature missing in my MiNT camera: the ability to set shutter speeds and apertures at ½ or ⅓ EV settings.
But my hopes were instantly crushed. Neither shutter speeds or apertures are adjustable in anything more than full EV steps, with one or two minor exceptions. The only real gain is a larger selection of apertures compared to the single f/8 setting on my MiNT camera. On top of that, the Now+ lacks several essential features of the vintage folding SX-70 camera, which is the platform used for the MiNT SLR670-S upgrade.
That said, the Now+ is a bargain at $150 compared to the $879 MiNT SLR670-S. So it seems like a good idea to review the Now+ and see how it compares to the MiNT camera. After all, if you are interested in dipping your toes into the creative world of a manually-controlled Polaroid camera, the Now+ is certainly an affordable approach.
Here’s a run-through of the specifications of both cameras based partly on manufacturer’s specifications but also on my own real world experience with both cameras. Below you will find my video overview of the camera specifications, complete with my conclusions and a more detailed look at each camera.
|Polaroid Now+||MiNT SLR670-S|
|Camera Type||Box style (like Polaroid OneStep) Non-reflex viewfinder (no parallax correction guides)||Refurbished folding SX-70 Alpha One TTL (through-the-lens) viewfinder|
|Accessories||Smartphone app (remote, self-timer, double exposure, aperture, tripod, portrait, light painting, manual) 5 special effect filters and case Lens cap Neck strap Tripod mount USB charging cable||Time Machine (shutter control) Tripod mount|
|Lens||Polycarbonate Standard lens 102mm (40mm equiv.) Close-up lens 95mm (35mm equiv.) Close focus to 0.4m (16 inches)||Glass 116mm (46mm equiv.) Close focus to 0.25m (10 inches)|
|Focus||Auto (no override) 2 stage zone focussing in manual||Manual|
|Aperture||f/11-f/64 f/45 missing (2 EV step between f/32 and f/64) f/13 added (½ EV step between f11 and f/16)||f/8|
|Shutter||1s-1/200s on camera 30s-1/200 via app Note that 1/200s is not a standard speed, it is ⅔ EV faster than 1/125s T (Light Painting mode on app)||1/2s-1/2000s, B, T|
|Exposure modes||Using the Polaroid app: Manual in full EV shutter and aperture steps with exceptions (see aperture and shutter specs above) 5 steps of fill flash in manual mode Can use camera’s meter in manual mode Aperture priority (±2 EV in ⅓ EV steps) Auto||Manual (full EV shutter steps) SX-70 (ISO 160) auto 600 (ISO 640) auto Lighten/darken wheel in auto|
|Film||i-type ($16), 600 ($19)||SX-70 ($19), 600 ($19)|
|Power||Rechargable lithion-ion battery in camera||Film battery|
|Flash||Built-in electronic||None (can use MiNT electronic flash accessory but only in Auto mode)|
Based on my experiences using both cameras, here are my personal pros and cons for each.
|Polaroid Now+||MiNT 670SLR-S|
|Pros||Affordable i-type film less expensive, reduces environmental impact Creative modes (double exposure, portrait, tripod, light painting) Built-in self-timer and flash||Excellent, sharp lens Accurate composing with TTL viewfinder Focus control Full range of shutter speeds Many third-party accessories|
|Cons||Soft lens Inaccurate viewfinder Limited shutter speeds f/45 missing Shallow DOF not possible in bright light due to max 1/200s shutter speed Manual mode requires camera+app+meter (awkward) Lag after shutter release pressed before film ejected||Expensive Vintage camera with aging components (albeit refurbished by MiNT) need an ND filter with 600 film in very bright light limited to f/8 aperture|
In the end, there is nothing about the Now+ that would cause me to desert my MiNT camera. The Now+ certainly has the edge when it comes to sophisticated controls available through the Polaroid app. The app connects effortlessly to the camera; open the app on your phone (an iPhone 8 in my case), turn on the camera and they connect instantly, ready for action. On the downside, trying to manipulate an iPhone, a camera and an exposure meter (if you choose not to use the camera’s meter) is more than a handful.
But my biggest issue is with the camera itself. The lens is noticeably soft and one stop slower than the MiNT. The small viewfinder is not terribly accurate; its heavily rounded corners make composing difficult and there are no parallax adjustment marks for close-up subjects.
The Now+ just can’t compete with the folding SX-70 camera used by MiNT with its sharp glass lens, accurate through-the-lens viewfinder and manual focussing down to 250mm. These are the features I need to take the best possible images. That MiNT has married this camera with its own sophisticated manual overrides is shear ingenuity—all from a tiny company satisfying a niche market of Polaroid fanatics. $879 is well worth the price of admission.
So who should buy the Now+? At $149, the price cannot be beat. If you are in the market for your first Polaroid camera, the Now+ is a solid choice. After all, Polaroid sells its regular auto-only Now camera for $120. For less than the price of two packs of i-type film, why not upgrade to the Now+ with the opportunity play with the numerous creative options it offers? If you are still on the fence about spending $879, think of the Now+ as a gateway camera, a chance to see if manual control is important enough to take the plunge for a MiNT camera. If you are at all intrigued by my Zone System posts and videos, the Now+, along with a spotmeter iPhone app such as the Lumu lightmeter or LightMe lightmeter, is an affordable way to try out the Zone System.
And stay tuned for two new videos to be posted shortly, each with a helpful tip for getting the most out of your Now+ camera, including an easy modification that will let you use black and white contrast filters and calibrated variable neutral density filters, just like I’ve described in my earlier posts.
Polaroid Now+: https://us.polaroid.com/collections/now-plus-camera
Lumu Light Meter app (iOS only): Available on the Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/lumu-light-meter/id730969737
LightMe Lightmeter app (iOS only): Available on the Apple App Store at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/lightme-lightmeter/id1509033790
Check out my SX-70 YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7d0LyjlePCsIFkZfaZjgZQ
Firmangallery portfolio and store: https://www.firmangallery.com