Spoke too soon? Yes- on a couple of fronts. First off, my SX-70 Alpha 1 project turned out to be much more than I bargained for. On a couple of counts. Cosmetically, my hopes not to reskin the body with new leather were dashed when part of the 35 + year-old material started peeling off. This was caused by one of the aluminum plates under the top rear piece of leather lifting in the corner. So, the daunting task of peeling off the old stuff began. This was sped up dramatically with use of a hair dryer, rubbing alcohol, and Goo Gone to remove the old adhesive. I won’t go through the step by step process, as there are many how-to’s online. But the key here is to get every last drop of adhesive off the body, and to have it shine. And, most important, not to remove the plate covering the bottom front of the camera. This would render SX-70 a dead camera. Here is how it looked after removal of the old leather-
I bought the precut leather from CameraLeather.com, and it is gorgeous. As the panels are already with adhesive, a good idea is to take a small bruch and put some rubbing alcohol on the body panels in advance, making the fine adjustment of the very stiky adhesive surface a breeze. The camera looks like new. Maybe better.
Now the next challenge has been to ungum some battery contacts that have been corroded over the decades. After taking some Qtips and vinegar to wipe off the terminals, I went to Radio Shack and paid $19.99 for DeoxIT. This two setp process is an absolute miracle worker. Gone is the sluggish shutter response, as well as the intermittent boot up process that governs the ejection of the darkslide. When you insert a fresh film pack, the camera should come to life, and eject that card. It did, but after testing after the camera with the spent pack, boot up was touch and go. Now, it goes.
OK, the film. I ordered a three pack of Impossible Project’s new PX70 Color Protection film for SX-70. Unlike the films I experimented with two years ago, this film truly is the real deal. The colors are vivid, the skin tones accurate. the film is sharp and contrasty. No more crystals or artifacts. And, I think most importantly, no more shielding the exposure as it comes out of the camera with a cardboard shade, tongue, or crazy homemade contraptions. this film was two years plus in waiting. It truly was worth the wait. I’ve started shooting a second pack in one of my SX-70 Sonars, and the results are even more spectacular.
This time, I even was able to find a human test subject. My friend Dennis, a doctor, at his desk, which doubles as his footrest-
The film does tend, as a daylight balanced film, to swing towards warm, greenish colors. use of a blue filter over the lens and electric eye might not be a bad idea. Application after scanning in Photoshop also works, as done here. Flashbars help to rebalance to a degree, but the exposures are still somewhat warmish.
I’ve made my peace with the folks at Impossible. They finally have a truly great instant film. Of special note- the staff at Impossible NYC is very helpful with regards to questions on the film, technical issues with your SX-70, or with SX-70 photography. I think part of the price justification in buying the film is that you almost have tech support, long after the extinction of the original Polaroid Corporation. And, if one considers the price of SX-70 film in 1972 when introduced in 1972, with the US Consumer Price Index, and adjusts it to 2012 dollars? Impossible actually works out to be a less expensive sheet of instant film.