Polaroid Films – Quick and Easy Fix (Part 2)

There are all kinds of Polaroid cameras. In this article we’ll be troubleshooting the Polaroid SX-70, because first of all, it is the king of all Polaroid cameras. Also it is the most beloved and one of the most common Polaroid camera that people like to use. So let’s dive in! If you haven’t read part 1, I encourage you to do so.

polaroid all white

Issue: My pictures are turning out white and blurry!

Tip #1 Hold the camera steadily while shooting

The original Polaroid SX-70 is an ISO100 camera, which means the shutter speed can be pretty slow. A lot of times, especially when the ambient light is dark, the shutter speed is longer than 1 second. You easily end up with a picture like the one above. There are two ways to avoid it. Either shoot under daylight and hold the camera steadily, or use a flash.

Tip #2 Check the expiry date on your film

The colors will look strange if the film is expired for too long. By too long, we usually mean 6 months past the expiry date. What you see on the box is the production date. If you store the film in the fridge, it can generally last 18 months. If you just place it in room temperature, it will last about 12 months, depending on whether it’s hot or not. I’ve seen film expiring within 6 months of production, but that was a hot place. My suggestion is to store the film in a fridge and finish up the pack within 2 weeks after it’s open.

Tip #3 Get your camera checked

The light meter on your camera might be malfunctioning. When the light meter malfunctions, the camera might overexpose the picture. Get your camera checked.

Issue: My pictures are completely black!

Tip #1 If you are using a flash, focus properly

For the Polaroid SX-70, the flash is very sensitive to the focus distance. If you focus wrongly, the picture will turn out all black. Read more about that in this post.

Tip #2 Get your camera checked

The light meter on your camera might be malfunctioning. Get your camera checked.

Issue: Four repeating dots or lines on my picture!

Tip: Clean the rollers

The rollers make approximately four full cycles for each picture. Clean them with a wet cloth or alcohol. A frequently asked question is whether you can open the film door while film is still inside. The answer is yes you can.

Hope that was useful! Let me know what topics you’re interested in in the comments below.

6 comments

  • If you open the film door with a film in the camera then when you close the door will not the camera eject a print and so waste it?

  • Hassan almutiri

    Hey, I have 3 Polaroid sx-70 cameras, first in black Alpha, second REVUE Alpha 1 by Chrome and third model3, and I want the best way to clean the cameras, especially the ends of the camera. Does alcohol affect external cleaning of cameras, and how can I remove minor scratches? Thank you.

    • Alcohol may affect the body of the camera. There is no way to remove the minor scratches, the way we do it is replace it with other donor cameras. You can clean the rollers with alcohol though.

  • Just picked up a 1974 built SX-70 in what I think is in awesome shape. I decided to try b&w first because I don’t know why. Anyways, my 2 outdoor shots were good for a first timer with this camera, but notice an off white/greyish haze running across the bottom of the image. I did a pretty good job of cleaning the rollers I thought, but also thought maybe temperature was a factor, or a millisecond of over exposure before I yanked it out and got it indoors or in a pocket. It was cold out for both shots. Any thoughts ? I’d like to get it inspected and CLA’d I think its called, to make sure its a good one. I’m waiting for my shipment of SX-70 colour packs to arrive from Polaroid as well as a frog tongue so I can see if there’s a difference outdoors and indoors with my new Mint flash. What do you think ??

    • I think you’re on the right track. If the patterns aren’t repeating, it’s not the rollers. Polaroids aren’t meant to be perfect. Temperature definitely plays a role. I don’t think it needs to be CLA’ed as long as the pictures spit out every time. Unless you want to be sure, but it will also mean extra cost and time. Otherwise, just go have fun with it!

      Note: if you are using Mint Flash, make sure to focus well, or slightly behind the subject.

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