How To Use A Polaroid Camera

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SINCE WRITING THIS ARTICLE, I HAVE CO WRITTEN A BOOK ON THIS VERY TOPIC: You can find more info about Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids here.

Polaroid is everywhere right now, yet it is a dying art and people are holding onto it for dear life. Do not listen to those who tell you that it’s too late. It is not. You do need to make a few decisions first.

What kind of camera?

  • Polaroid SX70 -SLR style cameras
  • Polaroid auto standard 600 cameras
  • Polaroid pack film (peel apart) cameras
  • Polaroid Spectra cameras

There are other old school kind as well, but these are the cameras that I know and can advise you on.

{Polaroid 600 Cameras}

These are the most modern of the Polaroid cameras and were your standard automatic point and shoot style camera. There is no fussing around with these cameras and they are often used as party cameras. My little sister owns one and inserts the integral film straight into the camera, points and shoots, Polaroid ejects out. Simple, easy. Artistically speaking, though, you may not be able to get the focus and colours on these cameras that you will with an SX70 or SLR680.

Check out more examples here.

Newest model to look for: Polaroid 600 One Classic Film needed: Polaroid 600, The Impossible Project film made for 600 cameras.

{Polaroid SLR Cameras}

There are a few choices here but the one I know and love the best is the SX-70. There are many different kinds of SX-70 cameras also. I have the original fully manual camera- the brown one. It takes some getting used to as you need to do all the focusing yourself. The sonar /auto models have auto focusing. You will also need to make a few alterations to your camera and film for this camera to work with Polaroid 600 film. You can use either 600 or 779 film but you will need to adjust the film to make it fit into the camera.

Using Polaroid 600 film in the SX70

There are 4 little nubs underneath the film pack. You will need to remove these with a knife or pliers.

Or you can use the dark slide to slide the pack into the camer. Once the film is in place, pull the dark slide out and close the film door.

You will also need a ND filter to go over the film pack or to stick over the lens. I prefer the film pack as it does not alter your view of the shot you are composing. Here is a great video explaining how this is done. Some people have cameras that do not need them to use a filter at all. It takes some playing around and working out what is best for the camera you own.

The Polaroid SLR680 is made for 600 speed film and therefore requires no manipulating when using Polaroid 600.The SLR680 is a fast camera and I love using it because it is a little bit more responsive indoors and in low light situations. It also has auto focus if you dig that kind of set up.

The Impossible Project makes film for both the SX70 and the SLR680.

Models to look for: Polaroid SX70 (original brown casing), Polaroid SX70 Sonar (automatic focus), Polaroid SLR680

Film needed: Impossible Project for the SX70 and for the SLR680, Polaroid 600 or 779.

You can also get your film from online places such as:

In the next few days, I will talk about Spectra and Pack film cameras which both use different kinds of film to the cameras I’ve discussed here. Come back soon to see the continuation of my Polaroid camera run down!

Part 11 is here.

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  • Susannah

    wow, lovie, you use pliers? i just slide the black card from another pack into the film space to cover the nubs, slide my 600 pack in and pull out the card. et voila, ready to rock ;)

    awesome post xo

  • amanda

    That works?? I didn’t think it would fit that way. I’ve never heard of people doing that before. There you go people, another way to do it which sounds easier than mine!

  • Lauren

    Awesome! So much useful info. I really, really appreciate this!

  • anne

    you can also remove the nubs with toenail clippers (I keep a pair in my camera bag now) AND if you’re out and about you can just gently rub the “nubs” against a concrete surface and they file down beautifully.

  • vicki

    Hi Amanda, thanks for another really informative post. I make so many copies of your posts about photography that we have to buy new printer ink frequently (my husband isn’t too thrilled about this because it’s $60.00 for new cartiridges. lol.) I’m still holding on to an sx70 I bought a few months ago, but haven’t used due to the cost of the film. This was an inspiring and motivating article. :) Hope you’re doing well and enjoying your new home!

  • cleon dann

    thanks for the post … i doesn’t know so much about polaride camera…

    cleon dann

  • Katarina

    I’ve just bought a black SX-70. It’s not modified or anything, loaded the film with the help of a cardboard of the same size as film pack. It takes ok photos, however the last 2 photos were ejected with a bit of delay, which made them look very funny and surrealistic. Not that I wouldn’t like it, but do you know what can be causing this? I’ve looked at Flickr threads, but they don’t seem to be very helpful.

  • Lauren

    wow, this is so helpful. i was thinking of purchasing a polaroid soon and this post came just in time. :)

  • amanda

    Katarina, to me that just sounds like there wasn’t the right kind of light.
    If there is a delay, the shutter is trying to look for more light. Did they come out kinda blurry?
    The SX70 with 600 film is pretty finicky and needs a lot of light. Even outside can sometimes be too dark if there is not a lot of light.
    What were the conditions?

    Glad to be of some help, kids. :)

  • Katarina

    The light was very low, yes. The picture’s here /
    That’s what I thought too, with the long exposure. Fortunately it only happened with 2 photos.
    I was trying to avoid daylight, as I don’t have the filter yet. Ordered it today, so it better works, because I really like playing with this camera :)

  • Christina

    Please help me with your opinion! I want to buy a used polaroid camera as a gift and I was almost sure that I’d buy a One-Step classic camera with flash that takes 600 film.I am no familiar at all with these… Is this camera a good idea?? I saw you said an SX-70 wuld be better but these are more expensive if I am not mistaken… Please give me some help!

  • Christina

    I meant I am not familiar with polaroids in general.Which one is the easiest to find film for?

  • Peter

    I have a polaroid sx-70 with the sonar head. I need to replace the head and place a new one. Two questions, one how do you remove it and lastly where would I get the replacement sonar head for this particular camera?

  • khadija

    thank u soo much for ur usefull review on polaroid cameras,i am obsessed with thte these days,since my obsession changes like every month my parents are not agreeing on buying me one,so maybe i will pay if its somewhat like 53$ us dollars?can u tell which wud b the best deal bcoz i live in Indai and i wudnt wanna buy a cam for hwichs role i wud have to purchase online,i like polaroid 600 auto one..can u give me some usefull details?i wud b honoured if cud give me some info on what cam shud i buy sinc i live in india?heres another link to a video which shows a polaroid i luv?do u know anything about tht?if yes then pl tell me!here it is…..took me 15 mins to find it again.but i cant somehow find it..well on youtube its in impossibleznothing’s av..the names jonas brothers lines,vines and trying times….pl see it!!.. and theres one more tht i wud like u to see just lke tht?and yes whats PoGo?polaroid go?is it a cam?what do U think of tht?Pl answer my queries… my id just in case…

  • tina

    Hi,i’m tina and from Taiwan. I love your photo very much and i’m a beginner. can you suggest me which camera (Polaroid Camera) i can buy, because there are too many categories that confused me.

  • polaroid lessons « the fabric of my life

    […] so, the wonderful amanda from mocking bird writes a fantastic introduction to polaroid photography here (part i) and here (part ii), and makes a great case for you going out and buying your own camera. […]

  • cmp

    Just wondering what you do for flash with your SX 70?

  • Tom

    Great piece with plenty of good advice. Never tried removing the nubs off a pack of 600 film before but if I get desperate in the future I’ll get the nail clippers out!

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