You probably have heard of these two giants of the photo industry; George Eastman’s, Kodak and Dr. Lands, Polaroid. They both fell on hard times and went through federal bankruptcies, but still exist today and like a lot of other companies, they continue to capitalizing on the brand recognition and excitement of previous products. Every once in while you’ll see a new product designed to do just that.
This blog post is about the original instant camera; the Polaroid SX-70, and the new Impossible I-L, meant to bring back the excitement and format of the world’s first instant camera from the1970’s.
In 1970 I was working for a camera store in San Rafael called the Photo Shop. I was a sales person. We had a big crew and sold a large selection of cameras brands from the exotic Swiss Alpa to Yashica twin-lens reflex. We sold Leica, Nikon, Pentax and the Swedish Hasselblad; considered the best of the best. We also sold Kodak (the premium Ektar Kodak line with German Schneider supreme lenses), and lots and lots of Polaroid cameras.
One day in 1972, I was working at the cameras counter when a well-dressed man came into the store. He introduced himself to me as the Polaroid camera salesman.
He pulls out this 4″ X 8″, flat, brown, leather and chrome object from his bag. I couldn’t tell what it was. He used his thumb and first finger to grab the top part of the object, and with one motion it popped open to reveal a camera! Then he pointed it at me and pushed the shutter button on the front. Only seconds later a square photo popped out the front with the sound of a zippy motor. There was no image on the paper. He told me to wait for it, wait for it… and slowly, a faint head and face appeared. It’s me, and over the next three minutes, it developed into a crisp, sharp, full-color photo. This was the Polaroid SX-70, WOW! We could not keep them and the accompany film in stock. Polaroid had created a magic trick that rivaled the best magicians!
If you are lucky enough to still own one of these originals, get it out, for a new company, aptly named Impossible, is making film for them again, which you can purchase from them here or their distributor/retailer FreeStyle Photographic Supplies here.
In addition, Impossible has also introduced a new camera called the Impossible l-1. This camera has a fixed, bulky shape more like the Polaroid 600 series instant camera, and is trying to capitalize on the success and mystique of the old SX70. The images are softer than those from the SX-70 and more portrait like. It also uses a ring-light flash that accentuates that softer portrait-like look. I have also read that some reviewers have complained about the camera battery.
Now that the film for the original SX70 is available again, I’m not sure I see a reason to purchase the I-1 unless you are especially interested in portrait-like images, or missed the Polaroid SX-70 the first go around.