SX70 Black and White Highs and Lows

The second film I am testing in my Polaroid SX70 is the SX70 Black and White film.

I have heard good things about this film and have high hopes for it.

My first shot (of my normal glamorous assistant) came out very clear and crisp. I like the tones in the image, I didn’t use a flash for this shot but it seems balanced and clear. It also developed much quicker than the colour SX70 film.

The following day was fairly bright so I went for a walk with the loaded SX70. Conscious not to waste the shots I stopped to take my first picture when something really caught my eye.

I composed. Focussed. Pressed the shutter. The camera whirred. But no photo was ejected.

I tried again. Same thing.

I then remembered the film packaging and the Amazon box was slightly crushed and wondered if this had anything to do with the photos not ejecting from the camera.

Realising I was not going to be able fold up the camera or take any photos, I had to unjam it somehow. I decided to see what I could do.

I was in a fairly sheltered part of the local meadow so ducked under the cover of the trees and managed to eject the film pack.

I then slid the ruined shot out of the pack and quickly put the film pack back in the camera. It was at the point I remembered when you enter a film pack in a Polaroid camera, it ejects the top image (thinking it’s the dark slide).

It sure was. I now had a totally white and a totally black photo.

I honestly felt physically sick. Polaroid film is expensive enough without loosing two shots, one at the fault of the film/camera and another my own stupidity.

My stroll plan to take one or two photos was now in tatters and almost half my film pack was used up.

I was worried that the camera or the pack were damaged so decided I had to take another shot to make sure it was all working.

On the walk back through the underpass from the meadow to the house I noticed that clouds were forming and there was just enough light shining through the roof of the subway. It was then I looked up, focussed and took my shot.

I was so relieved to see that both the pack and the camera were still working. I also quite like the abstract image I captured, which was completely unplanned.

When I returned home I contacted Amazon to explain the issue with the damaged box etc and they kindly gave me a full refund to order another pack.

Whilst developing some 35mm on my day off I decided to capture the moment on my SX70.

I was so proud of my developing I forgot that I didn’t have the flash attached and was inside. Needless to say there was not enough light, I moved and the shot came out blurred.

The photo also ejected on top of the frog tongue which was not supposed to happen! Luckily I was inside and managed to put the photo somewhere dark so it could develop ok.

Polaroids are a wonderful technology but very unforgiving and I feel I have learnt so much in the small space of time I have had with it, then I ever did with any other type of camera.

Coupled with the fact the tech is so old and the film stock so expensive, you really have to take your time and hope the Polaroid gods are on your side.

I can honestly recommend that anyone who is starting out in analogue photography should start with an SX70 as you learn so much so quickly!

I took the camera out at the weekend and had another set of mixed results.

The first shot of Ickworth House came out as expected.

The next one however did not.

I am not sure what caused this but I was fiddling with the frogs tongue trying to check it was in the right position.

I opened the film door to do this and am not sure if this or the previous pack removal caused the shot to misfire.

The final shot had an interesting light artifact on it.

Not the most successful pack or roll of film I have ever shot but it’s all part of the learning process and I’m getting some interesting results.

I have two further packs of SX70 black and white and a 600 glitter pack to shoot. I think I’m going to save these until I have some time off in August.

6 comments

  1. Hi Keith. Great blog, thank you for sharing 👍Funnily enough, I’m going to be releasing a blog today about SX-70 film that I was meant to post last week but currently redecorating at home and busy with work so not had chance to read final draft until now. (great minds think alike)I love the photo of your Cat 😻I just wanted give you a couple of pointers from my experience of using the SX-70…..I ended up ditching the frog tongue! The main reason for this was because my film kept jamming inside my camera or just not ejecting and like you, I ended up wasting precious expensive film! After a bit of investigation, I realised the frog tongue had been the main culprit! Also had the same issue with the photo ejecting over the frog tongue sometimes. I was slightly worried initially that the film wouldn’t develop as well without the frog tongue, especially in bright sunshine, but I immediately remove the photo and put it in a pocket or face down on a table and the photo results have been absolutely fine. No more wasted film! The photos I will be sharing in my blog today were taken without the frog tongue and some in bright sunshine so you will see. Also as you said, a flash is required for indoor photos otherwise they will come out blurry especially as the SX-70 film has a very low ISO (160). You’ll find over time as you get to know the camera that you’ll start to consistently take good shots and will rarely waste any film. I look forward to seeing more photos taken on your SX-70 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the advice. Great minds think alike. I may take the tongue out and take it with me today to try. You’re right I don’t want to waste any more film and to be honest I tend to put the photo straight into a pocket anyway. Thanks Natalie.

      Liked by 1 person

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