Now that I have three Polaroid SX-70’s, and am enjoying shooting Impossible PX-70 Color Protection film, tremendously, I have been hearing a lot from friends and colleagues about the price of instant photography. Mostly complaints. Truth be told, instant photography was never an inexpensive craft. The trade-off was the very nature of the film itself- a print in your hands. No darkroom, no development, no chemicals, no sending out to be processed. The medium always encouraged taking, maybe, more than one shot, using more film in the process. If you didn’t like the print you created, change the settings, lighten, darken, add flash, shoot again. Yes, using more film in the process.
But how much does that all cost? OK- a pack of original Polaroid SX-70 film, in 1972, cost $6.90 US. Converted to 2013 dollars? It would cost a whopping $38.55 today. A pack of Impossible Project PX-70 Color Protection film today costs $23.49. Still expensive, but not as bad when adjusted. SOURCE- DollarTimes.com
Now, for the camera. The original SX-70, in 1972 sold for an original retail price of $180.00 How much might it retail for today? $1005.55. My beloved 230 Land Camera, which my father bought in 1967, sold for $99.99. In 2013 dollars, $697.81. Polaroid, in its prime, was never, ever, inexpensive.
Prices on eBay for an original SX-70 are not looking so bad. Some advice here. Although when browsing through the listings, there are lots of troubling trends. If I was in the market for one, I would stay well clear of the folks who post ‘this was my grandma’s- I know nothing about cameras”, or that say “I don’t have film available- cannot test”. Film not available? Come on. These are some of the many reasons why it gets belittled as “FleaBay”.
Also, stay well clear of the “no returns”, or the “untested”. You are taking a huge gamble. You might get lucky, but is it really worth $200, only to find the camera DOA? It is happening a lot. And, anything related to SX-70, even carrying cases, are going for a premium. Don’t pay $70 for an SX-70 leatherette case. Don’t do it. I got mine for $30, and a little Armor All for it got the case looking beautiful.
Finally, unless it is a gold-plated SX-70 (yes, Polaroid did make a few of those), don’t believe anything described as “rare”, or “one of a kind”. It’s an SX-70, but it is also a Polaroid. They were made in large quantities. There is very little “rare” about Polaroid gear. But, as can be seen now on the eBay, ShopGoodwill, Salvation Army, pawnshop, and Craigslist markets, anything designated SX-70 carries a premium, and maybe even considerable price gouging. Even broken cameras, and the simple “box” plastic non-folding cameras. I’d say price and demand, but the cameras, accessories, and odds and ends for SX-70 photography are plentiful. No longer manufactured, but they are everywhere.
As Greg Brady’s father told him, Caveat Emptor, or, let the buyer beware.