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Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital

The Polaroid SX-70 was not the first instant camera. Released in 1972, it was the first instant SLR, and the first to use Polaroid's iconic integral print film that developed automatically. It folded up so it fit in your pocket.

Multiple models followed the original SX-70, adding features like a rangefinder autofocus system. In the 1980s, the original SX-70 film was replaced by the "Time Zero" variant, which developed much faster. Time Zero film for the SX-70 went out of production in 2005.

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The sentimentality for analog photographs (or anything, really) rooted in fetishisms of authenticity and physicality, is perversely self-destructive: Analog media age and degrade, they die, like our bodies. The idea of the "original" is somewhat warped as well, since in the process of aging, the photo itself changes. In a way, the original photo ceases to exist a second after it's created. The long set time for the SX-70's film was particularly interesting in this regard—there was a 2-3 day window where you could manipulate it with temperature.

The bits that make up a digital photograph don't age. They will be the same 30 years from year now that they are today. And unlike a scan or reprint of an analog photograph, copies are of digital photos are literal clones—the bits are the exact same. The "original" is preserved forever, even as digital wholly obliterates the concept of the original.

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Bits can lie, though. That's why people don't trust them. Plastic and paper are real. You can touch them. They bare scars when you change them. A faded photo has been places, seen things. It's lived. Maybe longer than you have. Material inscription guarantees authenticity. Which is important when so much else is not genuine.

These are some photos taken with the SX-70 I found poking around on Flickr. There are a lot more in this Flickr pool.

Is it just me, or does it always seems like summer in old Polaroid photos?

Images: sandys2, Angus柒, asalexander, clspeace, clspeace, kwanz, dejvicka, antiparticle, kaidominato, @Maco, justephens, justephens, Davide Rascone

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Polaroid SX-70 Photos: The Artster, TimmyToucan

Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
Illustration for article titled Polaroid SX-70: The Joy of Instant Photography Before Digital
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Gizmodo '79 is a week-long celebration of gadgets and geekdom 30 years ago, as the analog age gave way to the digital, and most of our favorite toys were just being born.

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DISCUSSION

My mom had one of these, and there was some funky stick of a gelatin like substance that you had to smear on the picture after it came out. Back in the day, pretty much any time you saw anyone with a Polaroid, you knew they were taking naked pics, because back then photo developing places (like Photomat) would actually refuse to develop any pics they found inappropriate. And they found everything inappropriate.