The Polaroid SX-70/Alpha 1 really does have an amazing integrated single lens reflex (SLR) optical system. A 4 element glass lens, it would represent the gold standard for years in SX-70 photography until plastic (i.e. cheaper) bodies and lenses appeared on the scene, eliminating the SLR approach in favor for the mass-market zone focusing system. You literally had to guess your focus. This really is seen starting with the SX-70 Model 3, and with all the following Polaroid “box cameras”, SX-70 and 600’s (the SLR 680 excepted- also a beautiful, coveted SLR, taking 600 film, instead of SX-70 it even LOOKS like an SX-70). Yes, this “cheaper is better” strategy helped get Polaroid film into more hands, but it also gave it the misconception that it was a “junk” brand. Polaroid ultimately paid the price later into the 70’s, and well into the 80’s, for being “spastic over plastic”.
But back in 1972, when a Polaroid SX-70 had a list price of $180, Polaroid sold an amazing optional accessory kit, bundled with all kinds of little goodies. The camera was very well suited for portraiture, allowing the photographer to get up to 10 1/2 inches and still focus. Dr, Land, in all his genius, saw that SX-70 photographers would maybe take the medium seriously, and discover a whole other world. Some call this macro photography. Land branded it as close up photography.
One accessory bundled is the Model #121 Close Up Lens & Flash Diffuser. As I am now shooting SX-70 with the Impossible Mint electronic flash, a couple of pieces of gaffers tape secured the diffuser over the flash. It is molded for the original SX-70 GE/Sylvania/Polaroid disposable flashbars. Also useful for these shots was the included #111 Tripod Adaptor (doubles as a table stand), and the very cool #112 Remote Shutter Button. No unwanted vibration or movement.
The first test subject was The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, a Christmas gift. I do love The Beatles, but John Lennon, by far, is my favorite member. Trivia- an accomplished SX-70 photographer in his own right-
A shooting distance of approximately 5 inches does seem to be about right. As this was my 1st shot with the configuration, I set the Impossible Mint flash to medium power. The Color Protection emulsion clearly does not agree well with underexposure. Next, was The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins’ dwelling as built with Legos-
Full flash power, still diffused, but allowing the colors to be crisp, vibrant, and to pop. NOTE: The Close Up Lens of the #121 also requires use of the #113 Accessory Holder. The lens slides into the bracket, which in turn allows you to plug in your flash. As customary with Polaroid at the time, many parts and accessories required an additional “kludge’. If you are thinking of trying macro photography with your SX-70, I highly recommend going for the complete Accessory Kit, as shown here. Some accessories also work on the autofocus SX-70 Sonar models, but the accessory holder does not. The tripod bracket and remote shutter button do. The close up lens will, but taping it over the lens, and focusing manually, would have to be the approach taken with the Sonar.