If you have been following my recent SX-70 posts, you will know that I have a fanatical desire to reign in the capricious behaviour of SX-70 cameras and films, all in an attempt to maximize the quality of the ejected photos. This has included a deep-dive into the Zone System, using a calibrated variable neutral density (VND) filter to gain more exact exposure control and using black and white filters to enhance Polaroid black and white photos.
All these techniques require a manually controlled camera which, until recently, was limited to the rather pricey MiNT SLR670-S, my camera of choice. With Polaroid’s release of the Now+ comes an affordable means to manually control shutter speed and aperture settings using the Polaroid app . What’s missing is some way to attach a VND. And, although the Now+ comes with light yellow, light orange and light blue slip-on filters, which can be used with Polaroid’s black and white films, it would be nice to attach darker versions as well, such as red and green black and white filters in front of the Now+ lens.
Fortunately, there is an easy hack that costs nothing. Polaroid kindly includes a rubbery slip-on lens cap with the camera. The front of the cap has a slightly recessed area stamped with the Polaroid logo. By carefully cutting out this recessed panel, it turns out that the opening is just the right size to friction-fit 40.5mm filters. Simply slide the modified lens cap over the lens and twist-in whatever 40.5mm filter you wish to use.
To Use the Camera Shutter Button or the App Shutter Button, That is the Question?
Ay, there’s the rub.
Trying to hold the Polaroid Now+ in one hand and an iPhone with the Polaroid app in the other hand, all while composing a photo through the view finder with one eye and positioning a finger over the app’s shutter release using the other eye…what could possibly go wrong?
But wait! If the app has transferred my aperture and shutter speed choices to the camera, why can’t I use the shutter release on the camera?
Alas, poor Polaroid!
Take a look at this video and all will be revealed.
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.
One of the frustrations of working with the Polaroid SX-70 camera is its fully automatic exposure system. As a well-seasoned photographer, I am accustomed to being in full control of setting aperture f-stops and shutter speeds to determine the correct exposure for my pictures. For Polaroid cameras—including the sophisticated folding SX-70 camera of the 1970s and 80s—the sole user control is the uncalibrated exposure compensation dial allowing the exposure to be adjusted lighter or darker by some unknown factor. Getting a good photo on the first try is unlikely and, on occasion, I have used an entire film pack to get one decently exposed image.
There is but one way to gain some semblance of exposure control on an SX-70 camera and that is to buy a specially modified version.
Enter MiNT Camera, a Hong Kong-based company that refurbishes vintage folding SX-70 cameras, installs new electronics and a new electric eye, reclads the camera with black or brown leather and adds a small exposure control module—something they call the Time Machine—that attaches to the camera’s flash socket. MiNT produces three versions of its camera: the SLR670m has the Time Machine, works with SX-70 and 600 films manually and with SX-70 in Auto mode or with the Time Machine detached; the SLR670-S adds an Auto mode for 600 film and the camera natively shoots Polaroid 600 film with the Time Machine detached; the SLR670-X adds external flash sync and metal cladding instead of the regular leather cladding. There is also a SLR670-S Classic model but it appears to use a pre-Alpha 1 version of the SX-70 camera and does not have a tripod socket—which I consider essential—or neck strap loops.
You may recall my quest for the perfect mobile backup strategy for photographs taken while on a long walk.
First there was the Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2, a nice, compact, lightweight means of transferring image files from my SD cards to flash drives. Unfortunately, the backups have proven to be unreliable with the MobileLite often stalling or freezing mid-transfer.
That led to the MediaShare Wireless by Verbatim (about CDN $32), also compact and lightweight and successful in backing up my camera cards to flash drives. My review was quite glowing. But I became frustrated with the software. First, it took far too long for Verbatim to upgrade the software to iOS 11. And once it did, I could not get the app to upload photos from my SD card to my iPad. That led to a two month long email debacle with Verbatim support that, in the end, provided no answer.
That frustration led me to the FileHub RP-WD03 by RavPower (about CDN $50). It’s very similar to the Verbatim unit. It has a slot for USB flash drives or hard drives and another for an SD card. It connects by wifi with an iPad, iPhone or Android device and a dedicated app. Verbatim has its MediaShare app and RavPower has the FileHub Plus app. Continue reading →
My last post dug into the camera bag slung over my shoulder. Cameras. Lenses. Filters. My creative tools.
As I mentioned in that post, my kit is tailored to the needs of long distance walking where weight and volume are as important as image quality.
But there is another collection of photographic ephemera, the less glamorous bag of technical bits and pieces required to keep my equipment working, to write blogs, to edit photos. It’s the stuff that gets tucked into my backpack, waiting for the day’s walk to be over and an evening of charging and editing and blogging to begin. Continue reading →
It’s fair to say my technical approach to photography has shifted. Gone are the days of lugging eight pounds of Nikon bodies and lenses across Europe. Or backpacks loaded down with Cirkut panoramic cameras. Or car trunks filled with 4×5 view cameras, massive tripods and film holders.
No, my gear kit is decidedly minimal these days. With my new emphasis on photographing my walking experiences—let’s call it street photography with velocity—too much equipment simply gets in the way. And it kills my back. Continue reading →
Moment’s collection of smartphone cases and add-on lenses promise to extend the versatility of my iPhone 8 Plus. How well do they work? Read on. And (pssst…), I have a YouTube video version of my review at the bottom of this blog post.Continue reading →