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
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”.
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.
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
Wonderful article! Like your blog too. Thank you.
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)
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?
The mirror is halfway through a cycle. Try resetting it with an empty film cartridge. If it still doesn’t work, I recommend sending it for repair.
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?
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. =)
Hi, i just got new film for my sx-70, the first film piece came out and it seems to work the only problem is it won’t take a photo? any tips?
sounds like a problem with the camera
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.
I am having this same issue. Did you figure out how to fix it?
Hi, i use the sx70 with the infra red focus fonder and the mint flash bar. Whenever i flash i have a shadow across the upper part of the frame. The flash only reaches the center. Would you know why?
Hi, what is the infra red focus finder?
Is it normal for the camera not to take any photos? I know it’s old and that jazz, but I wanna figure out how to get it to work! It makes the clicking noise as if it would take a picture but the picture never comes out. (It’s happened once or twice though!). I’m not sure if its the film or the camera itself. Help would be appreciated. <3
If the film is fresh, the problem is probably in the camera. I would suggest taking it to a repair store to get it fixed. From my experience, there is a layer of oxidation on the contacts..
Hi, I soon hope to own a SLR670s. What happens when I use the SLR670s without the timemachine attatched?
Hi, SLR670 without time machine acts like a native ISO600 AUTO camera. That means you can use ISO600 film directly if you forget to bring the time machine with you.
Hi, i found my grandpa’s SX-70 camera and it’s very clean and it good condition but when i load in the film and when i close that one part the black sheet doesn’t automatically come out and all i see through viewfinder is black.
This is very common with old SX-70s. The mirror is stuck halfway up. It needs to be repaired.
I had this same problem. Did you end up fixing it or sending it to a repair shop?
Recently bought a refurbished sx70 from Polaroid originals. From the start The shutter button will auto focus but photos will not take. Once and awhile they do they only eject sometimes. Please advise.
I assume it is a SX-70 Sonar model with auto focus. It needs to be repaired. Polaroid should be able to fix it for you.
Hi just got an sx70
Had started taking pics fine w new film (sx79 from Polaroid)
Pictures get stuck before or during roller entry
I’ll snap the picture you hear motor and a thunk
And then picture doesn’t come out
Generally w a test cartridge or new cartridge the black slide comes out
Yeh it does happen quite often with SX-70s. They are, after all, antiques with old electronic circuits and stuff. I would strongly recommend SLR670 to anybody who is serious about shooting Polaroid. It’s just so much more reliable with the new electronics and parts.
I mean sx70 film
I just bought a polaroid one-step se land camera that uses sx70. I tried to be as specific as possible as I am very amateur. I bought new packs of sx70 film, loaded it, the dark side ejected, and I took one picture, but when I tried to take my second picture it just didn’t work. I pressed the button and there was no click and no flash. Is there anyway I can fix that?
If you want to shoot with box-type Polaroid cameras, I would recommend the new Polaroid OneStep series. They are newly made and not expensive. Usually the old box-type cameras are not worth fixing because of the price and old age.
Hi! The rollers in my Sx-70 are not working, they are very tight and don´t budge at all. Can it be fixed?
There are 2 things you can try:
1) Find a new film door and swap them
2) Open the film door, fit a dark slide through the rollers, and then pull the dark slide out from the other side. Repeat it a few times. It might work.
Hello, I just purchased an sx-70 and the photos come out fine, I hear the click and hold the button while the photo is ejecting but they are developing to be completely black with no picture at all, I took 5 photos all in moderate light, the film was past its expiration date of 12 months but it was kept in the fridge. The guy I bought it from said it was tested and works I want to know if I was ripped off or if the film could be causing this.
Hello, try shooting outdoors under the sun? If it’s still completely black, there might be a problem with the camera. Or try using Mint Flash Bar, it saves a lot of film if you’re shooting indoors.
Hello, I bought an absolutely great looking SX 70 this week. Everything seems to be intact except the film door does not close, looks like something is missing to the lock / unlock lever. Strange enough the camera does no look like it’s often been used. How could this be fixed? I have not tested the camera so far, i.e. don’t have film / battery yet. Thanks for the great article!
Hello, this happens all the time. The previous owner probably forced the film door open. Not an easy fix if you don’t have the right tools, unfortunately.
My front film door is loose and doesn’t sit snuggly. Similar to the ‘gap’ you mention in this article but somewhat larger. It hasn’t broken off completely
Is the latch bent? Would you recommend bending it slightly inward so that it sits more snuggly in between the cogs?
Hi, it’s a bit hard to tell. If the camera still works fine, then maybe just leave it alone?
I’ve bought an SX-70 Sonar Autofocus described as completely working including the autofocus and a picture taken with the camera came with it.
It will only autofocus to 1m and sometimes to 2m. It won‘t focus to infinity or closer than 1m.
If I manual focus to the closest focusing distance and reactivate the sonar focus, it won‘t retract the lens to infinity like it should do, it won’t actually focus at all.
The picture taken with this camera is a portrait of a dog, probably at about 1.2m, exactly the same distance that the camera does automatically focus.
Everything else seems fine.
What should I do? Ask for a refund, or is it worth it to getting it fixed?
Thanks in advance
This is a common problem with SX-70 Sonars. It’s fixable, but I’m not sure if the person who sold it to you knows how to fix it. I would go for a refund.
I just bought a sonar autofocus SX70. It seems to function well except that all my pictures are completely white.
Do you have an idea of the cause of this problem ?
Thanks in advance
Hello I can think of the following possible causes:
1) The film is too old (manufactured more than 2 years ago)
2) The weather is too cold
3) Wrong type of film (Using 600 film without ND filter or flash)
Is there a solution for when the mirror is half way up? I am having issues as some people avobw where the xamera does not expell the black cover when new film inserted and the view finder goes black
Use an empty film cartilage to reset the camera. But this only works half of the time, and it won’t guarantee the camera to function reliably over time. Chances are, it needs to be taken to repair.