Polaroid SX-70: Don’t Be Fooled By These “Defects”

I get all sorts of questions all the time about the Polaroid SX-70. Polaroid SX-70 was introduced in the 1970s, and it is a 40 year old camera (some of them turning 50 in a few years 😲). SX-70s aren’t being made anymore. How many products can you name that last 40 years? Not many. The Polaroid SX-70 was truly built to last.

I always tell people not to treat the Polaroid SX-70 like any other camera. It’s special. It’s a camera that you will still be carrying around 10 years from now, and that is not an overstatement. I don’t see any instant camera that can beat the SX-70 in terms of design. The Polaroid SX-70 was way ahead of its time.

All physical products will deteriorate. The question is, how fast do they deteriorate? Amazingly, with the Polaroid SX-70, the answer is remarkably slow. As long as you know how to store them properly, and handle them with care, they can last for a very long time. They were designed to be durable. Below are two issues I get asked a lot about.

Crack in Viewfinder

sx70-viewfinder
One or two grey lines slanting downwards.

These two grey lines in the viewfinder are perfectly normal. It will not affect the picture in any way. They are not cracks.

These grey lines are caused by the viewing mirror, not the photo-taking mirror. Therefore, you don’t have to worry. I haven’t seen a single picture affected by this “crack”.

SX-70 cross section

The Film Door Gap

The Polaroid SX-70 is foldable, and for any foldable object, there will be a gap. For the SX-70, this gap is visible. Don’t worry though, it is perfectly normal to see the gap or even fit a few sheets of paper through the gap. If the film door falls down by itself, that’s another story.

Note that the gap widens when you install the frog tongue / film shield. Either way, this will not affect the performance of the camera. Most SX-70s had this gap straight out of factory. We did notice though, that the gap shrunk in later models. Those models we use to make the SLR670.

Of course, there are a lot of “real” defects that occur with SX-70s. We have a list of real defects and how we fix MiNT refurbished SX-70s. You can learn more here.

12 comments

  • I’ve posted a memory of my SX-70 on my blog, and I’ve included a mention of the good work that you are doing at Mint Camera to recreate the experience for future generations. https://bit.ly/2IP2IaG

  • Has anyone else dealt with a delayed ejection with their SX-70? I will take a photo, hear a noise, wait about ten seconds then the camera will Snao off and eject the photograph, completely missing the moment I wanted to capture. Anything helps.

    • This is very common with original non-upgraded SX-70s. Original SX-70s were ISO100 cameras, which means they were only good for outdoor photos. If it is too dark, the shutter will remain open. The simple remedy is to get a flash bar!! It will save you a lot of pictures.

      1) Make sure there is a lot of light before you shoot
      2) Get a flash bar
      3) Upgrade your camera to ISO600 (SLR670)

  • Sebastian Rivas

    I just got my first sx-70 two days ago but I can not see anything trough the viewer, any ideas why this can happen? Some things that I can try to make it work?

  • Peter Schwartz

    Hello Mint,
    I have purchased several SX-70’s and all seem to have a common problem of the photos coming
    out very flat, no contrast no matter how I set the ligh/dark control . Always take photos on a bright
    day, sun behind me. What could this be?

    Thanks, Peter

    • Hey Peter, try these 2 things:

      1) shield your pictures immediately when they are coming out. Minimize the exposure to the sun especially in the first 3 minutes.

      2) Make sure the film is fresh. You will see a production date or expiry date on the pack. The freshness really depends on how it was stored. As a rule of thumb, I suggest using the film within 1 year from the production date, if it was not stored in a fridge, and 2 years from the production date if it was stored in a fridge. After you open the film pack, I suggest using up the whole pack within 1 month.

      Hope that helped.

  • I was hopping for some advice on what to do about a shutter stuck in the open position. While taking a photo it opened, stayed open, and after several attempts to change the battery pack it still remains the same. The photo never ejected and remained in the pack as well. I love this camera and it was working relatively well up to this point. Thank you!

    • This has to do with the electronics of the SX-70 camera. I’m afraid it can’t be easily repaired. Electronic parts have to be replaced. I would recommend you sending it to repair or getting a new one. Sorry for the little piece of advertisement here – This kind of fault never happens in the SLR670, because the electronic board is completely new. =)

  • I recently purchased a good looking land camera and when I los film two things happen:
    1) I am no longer able to see anything through the viewfinder
    2) the top black sheet does not eject and I am unable to take a photo.

    I’ve cleaned the terminals from erosion (there was very little to begin with) and all other features seem to be in good shape. Any ideas?

    Thanks for running such a great resource.

    • Judging from the symptoms, the mirror is half way up and the camera doesn’t stay flat at the moment. Try using Deoxit or other contact cleaners. It sounds like your camera needs an overhaul.

      Thanks. I’m planning to share more DIY repair tips.

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