Every photographer who has used the SX-70 has felt the familiar pain of being unable to take an image handheld as soon as there’s even a touch of shade. Polaroid 600 film performs almost exactly as good as SX-70 film while being 4x more sensitive.
The 600 film is also in stock much more often, which can be a major benefit if you’re trying to pick up a couple of packs on the way to a shoot. For these reasons, nearly every photographer who uses a SX-70 dreams of being able to put a pack of 600 film in their camera at one point or another.
There are a few different ways to use Polaroid 600 film in your SX-70 camera, but all of them cost money, and some of them require you to send your camera away for modification. Some of the tools that allow you to use 600 film also have other versatile uses, like allowing you to take long exposures or even off-camera flash for iconic studio shoots.
Here are the best ways that you can use Polaroid 600 film in your SX-70 camera:
- Purchase the MiNT flashbar 2 .
The MiNT Flashbar 2 has a sneaky trick up its sleeves. On the flashbar, there are 3 settings: off, half power, and full power. The half-power setting will trick the camera into thinking it’s the same power as a full SX-70 flash but only gives out enough light to expose the more sensitive 600 film.
And as an added bonus, the flashbar also has a built-in sync port, allowing you to use off-camera flash for studio portraits. That feature alone makes this a must-have option for your SX-70, as it not only guarantees that you’ll get perfect exposures every time, but also allows you to get creative with the lighting.
Whether or not you want to use 600 film, the Flashbar by MiNT is an essential piece of gear to get the most out of your Polaroid SX-70 camera. Because the film is so slow, I find that I need the flash to create a good exposure in most conditions that I shoot in. And its way better to rely on a reusable flashbar than it is to be consistently hunting down the remaining disposable GE flashbars from the 70s and 80s.
The one downside of using the Flashbar is that you can only use 600 film with the flash turned on. That means using it only in indoor, low-light, or night situations. No landscapes, architecture, or other forms of instant photography will be possible with 600 film in your camera.
- Use an ND-filter
The next solution is to place an ND filter on your lens. Then you can use the Polaroid SX-70 with 600 film in all situations fairly inexpensively. The problem is if you leave it on your camera, you won’t really be able to see through the SLR viewfinder as well as you could without it, making shooting a slower, more cumbersome process. Not to mention that you still have to deal with slower SX-70 shutter speeds!
The benefit of going with the neutral density filter route is that you can use these filters to create stunning long exposure photos to blue water or clouds during sunrise and sunset. Using ND filters on your polaroid will unlock the creative potential of the camera, and make it incredibly useful for capturing landscape images.
Find a neutral density in this set of awesome filters for the SX-70 on Amazon. This kit also includes other awesome filters, such as a yellow filter that will add contrast to the skies with black and white film, as well as a fisheye and a closeup lens.
- Have your camera modified to shoot 600 film by a professional
There are a number of repairmen who are able to modify the SX-70 to use Polaroid 600 film. Two popular options for converting SX-70 cameras to use 600 film are Retrospekt Camera or Brooklyn Film Camera for US customers.
Professional conversion services are expensive, but this is the only way to know that the service is being done right. Quite often, the servicemen will also take the time to clean out the camera and ensure everything is in peak condition. As a bonus, most services will replace the leather (since it has to be removed to access the camera) and provide a warranty on the service.
- Modify the SX-70 yourself.
This may be the riskiest method, but if you’re good with electronics repair, it will be worthwhile. The OpenSX70 community has a full guide to modifying the SX-70 to shoot 600 film, including building in a switch so you can choose between shooting 600 and SX-70 film when the light is just right.
Be careful any time you’re opening up your camera, as you can do some serious damage. I’d suggest only attempting to convert an SX-70 on your own if you’re completely comfortable with making modifications like this, or if you have a broken copy around the house to play around with fire. There is nothing worse than turning such an incredible camera into a shelf ornament.
- Buy a per-modified SX-70 camera from MiNT, or on eBay.
This is the most expensive, but usually the most reliable option. Polaroid made the SLR 680 camera, which was the SX-70 re-engineered to use 600 film with a Sonar and built-in flash. These days it’s one of the rarer models, but the SLR 680 still often comes up for sale on eBay or it can be found on Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace with some due dilligence.
The next option is to purchase a MiNT SLR 670 camera. These are modded out Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 cameras, which are earlier models that come in the brilliantly small form factor without the sonar or flash. The difference with the MiNT SLR 670 cameras is that they come with a Time Machine module that sits in the flash port and gives the user full control over the shutter speeds, and includes automatic settings for both SX-70 and 600 film stocks.
The newer MiNT SLR 670-X even has a flash port that allows photographers to use off-camera flash for the first time ever. This camera is best for professionals who want full control over their cameras. These are pricier, but the control is worth it. Find a MiNT SLR 670 on eBay for the best price here.
There are a number of ways to use Polaroid 600 film in an SX-70, but the only way to really get the full usability of the 600 film is to modify the camera. If you need to get the very most out of your SX-70 camera, you’ll likely want to take a look into purchasing an SLR 670 from MiNT, as this is the only way to control every aspect of the shutter and exposure control.
If you’re a casual shooter who enjoys the auto exposure on the camera, then getting the camera modified by a professional will ensure that you get the most flexibility out of this camera. And my last favorite option is to use the MiNT Flashbar II, since this camera really requires flash to make great portraits in the first place, and also unlocks the ability to use off-camera flash, which is an absolute gamechanger for instant photography on the whole.
Thanks so much for reading! Are you thinking of modding your SX-70? Let me know how you plan to do it in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram and in the Official Learn Film Photography Facebook group, where I am always available to answer your questions.