The last time I picked up a Polaroid camera was about 1979. It was a Polaroid OneStep loaded with SX-70 film, both original Polaroid Corporation products.
So much has changed since then. Polaroid filed for bankruptcy in 2001, changed ownership twice and finally shut down its film processing plants in 2008. The Impossible Project salvaged the Netherlands factory just hours before it was to be demolished and set out to remanufacture Polaroid film, including SX-70 film, but with recipes missing, no suppliers, no color dyes and chemicals unavailable or banned the process of recreating the complex 3.5″ x 4.25″ integral film turned out to be a challenge.
The Impossible Project became Polaroid Originals in 2017, once it acquired the brand name and intellectual property of the original Polaroid Corporation and, simply, Polaroid earlier this year. Their SX-70 film has gone through a few iterations, improving immensely over the years. But the film I use today, is very different from the film I used in 1979. More to come on that topic. In the meantime, here are a few more SX-70 instant pictures in the From Our Windows project.
A small format camera is the photographer’s sketchbook, the place where ideas can be quickly explored before paint is applied to that big, forever canvas of the final print. Over two decades, my coterie of Nikon cameras and lenses ably served as my sketchbooks.
Push the shutter release button and something unusual happens. No click, just a brief mechanical whir as the narrow slit in a silver drum rotates counterclockwise across the front of the camera. This is the Horizont, a Russian-built swing lens panoramic camera, the first of several devices I would own and use to take long sweeping views of my world. Continue reading →
Konica introduced the Autoreflex T in 1968, the company’s first fully automatic 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) camera with through-the-lens (TTL) metering. The camera is built like a tank and, when the shutter-release button is pushed, it sounds like one. Its heft might suggest it was carved out of a solid block of steel.
The camera came with a 52mm f/1.8 Hexanon lens, those days considered a not-too-wide, not-too-telephoto good standard focal length. Its all-metal barrel gave it a weight and sense of durability to match the camera body. The bayonet mount, introduced with the Autoreflex T, allowed for quick lens changes. Indeed, my kit soon filled out with 135mm telephoto and 28mm wide angle lenses.
Around 1973, I acquired the just-introduced Konica Autoreflex T3, an updated version of my first camera. The Autoreflex T was relegated to use as a back-up body or loaded with a different film. With two camera bodies, either switching film speeds or film type during a shoot simply required a quick change of lens from one body to the other.
This photography kit would be by my side through the bulk of the 1970s. My understanding of photography would evolve over that period, alongside my design education at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. Continue reading →