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As Polaroid’s SX-70 turns 50, instant photography is booming

Fast Company: “Fifty years ago today, photography changed forever. The 3,000-something people assembled at a Polaroid warehouse in Needham, Massachusetts were the first to hear the news from Polaroid founder/president/resident genius Edwin H. Land himself, who declared it to be a turning point for the medium. Land was presiding over Polaroid’s annual meeting on April 25, 1972, and the change he was talking about came in the form of the company’s newest instant camera. It was indeed a transformative advance on its existing products. The camera in question was eventually known as the SX-70, though that was just a code name in April 1972; Land told his audience it might be named “The American.” I have called it the greatest gadget of all time and once wrote a 14,000-word article making that case. You are free to disagree. But it was packed with innovations—many of which were the result of Land’s own brainstorms and breakthroughs—and they spanned chemistry, mechanical engineering, and electronics in a way that has no modern counterpart…Though Polaroid’s modern cameras offer contemporary touches such as companion smartphone apps and USB charging, many people use their classic forebears, all the way back to the 1972 SX-70. (I shoot with both an SX-70 and a 1982 SLR 680, widely regarded as the best instant camera ever made.) Polaroid and several smaller companies refurbish old models, replacing worn parts and otherwise returning them to optimum performance. Repairing an SX-70 generally involves permanently removing its leather, but replacement skins are available in an array of styles, from the traditional to the psychedelic…”

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