If you’re used to using manual settings and love SX-70, you’re bound to have thought at least once about getting a Polaroid with manual control.
The MiNT SLR670 is the only option that gives near-complete control over the camera’s function. But with a price tag of around $1,000 USD is it worth purchasing?
The MiNT SLR670 is an SX-70 camera that has been refurbished and modified for shooting 600 film, and for full manual exposure control, making this the first ever professional-quality instant camera. The MiNT SLR-670 camera feels almost new in the box but has just one flaw.
At the end of the day, the SLR670 by MiNT provides the single best shooting experience on the market. But it comes with the caveat that you’ll have to learn how to properly expose the Polaroid film, which will cost money and time.
But once you’re able to dial the exposure in, then it’s possible to take the best Polaroid photos of your life with the MiNT SLR670 instant camera. Find the MiNT SLR670 for the best price on eBay.
In this review, I’m mostly going to talk about the benefits of the SLR670 camera, which is a modified SX-70. If you’d like to learn why the SX-70 is the best instant camera of all time, head on over to this review.
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What are the benefits of the SLR670?
Aside from reducing the weight of your pocketbook, the SLR670 has some incredible features that make this a fantastic option for lovers of instant film.
The largest benefit is that it allows you to shoot Polaroid 600 film, which has greater dynamic range than SX-70 film and is just as sharp. Polaroid 600 film will mean you can use the incredible optics of this camera in many more scenarios, like taking portraits in the shade instead of relegating the camera for use only in full sun.
The next benefit is manual control over the exposure. If you’re the type of photographer who hates leaving exposure up to the camera, then you’ll feel right at home using the MiNT SLR670. This is the only instant camera that makes it easy to create long exposures for landscape photography, using MiNT’s Time Machine module that sits in the flash port of the SX-70.
The Time Machine gives photographers full control over the camera’s exposure in 1-stop increments from Bulb to 1/2000th of a second. An important note: The SX-70 camera doesn’t actually have a real 1/2000th shutter speed, but instead closes the aperture to reduce light.
Using bulb or T-mode, you can keep the shutter open for any length of time, opening up the possibility to create star trails, or blurring clouds and water at dusk and dawn. Or, if you’re not feeling confident about your exposure, you can switch between auto exposure modes for SX-70 or 600 film.
Certain models, like the SLR670-x, also allow for the use of off-camera flash using a sync port on the side of the MiNT Time Machine module, which opens up some incredible creative opportunities that were never before possible with an SX-70.
And all of these features come with a 3 or 5-year warranty, depending on the model that you choose. Meaning if anything goes wrong with the camera, MiNT will fix it.
Downsides of the SLR670 — not mint condition, but MiNT condition
Even with a camera that’s quasi-new like the MiNT SLR670, there are still some downsides to consider before purchase. At the end of the day, these are refurbished cameras purchased on the used market, and there’s always the possibility that something can go wrong that isn’t the fault of MiNT.
The biggest thing that stands out though, is that the workmanship doesn’t seem perfect. One of the first things I noticed when I pulled the camera out of the sleek box was that the instructions for the SX-70 underneath the viewfinder were sloppily painted over, leaving the words half-visible even under subdued light.
And YouTuber WalkClickMake even found out that one of the shutter speeds didn’t function on his copy, which can be disastrous when the exposure can only be controlled in 1-stop increments and extremely limited dynamic range. The MiNT-SLR 670 cameras are covered by an impressive 5-year warranty for that kind of issue, but when you drop almost $1000 USD on a fully refurbished camera, you’d expect not to find faults like this.
That’s not to say these cameras are in bad shape — truly you’re going to get a better, more reliable camera than if you’d purchased a used copy on eBay or Facebook marketplace (see the best places to buy used cameras here).
But it’s the little details that make the camera feel like a professional, $1000 camera versus a potentially-unreliable camera. I know if something goes wrong I can always send it in. But that means I’m away from the camera from 6 weeks to 2 months — depending on the time it takes to get the camera to Hong Kong and back.
Luckily for Americans, they can choose to send their camera to a distributor in the US instead of directly to Hong Kong, which can save a lot of money.
The MiNT SLR670’s major flaw
There is one big feature that this camera is missing, and that’s double exposure mode. Modern Polaroids, like the Polaroid Go and the One Step+ have the ability to take double exposures, which allows for some pretty creative compositions using these cameras.
But, unfortunately, this is a feature that simply isn’t possible on the SX-70 and refurbished MiNT SLR 670 cameras because of the way the camera was designed. The mirror is tied to the ejection pick in this camera, meaning after the mirror folds back down to set up for another shot, it instantly ejects the last image it created. So the only way to create a double exposure, would be to block the viewfinder, according to MiNT.
I wish this were a feature that MiNT was able to include in this camera, as it would allow for some super cool compositions. But unfortunately it’s just not possible with this iconic camera.
It is worth having manual exposure control on a Polaroid SX-70?
Having manual control on a Polaroid SX-70 is a dream come true. Though I have to admit that I’ve gotten the exposure wrong more often than I’ve got it right, the shooting experience is much more fun and invigorating, and has allowed me to create images that otherwise would not have been possible with an SX-70.
I personally love the creative potential of being able to meter a shot for the highlights and crushing the shadows. I also find it incredible that it’s possible to use an off-camera flash (with the SLR670-X, or with the Flashbar II on other models).
But one thing for certain is that manual control requires precise metering. There are no half or third stops available, and the dynamic range is so small that a single stop difference could be enough to blow out, or completely underexpose your subject.
Of course, when you’re shooting in auto, there is a guarantee that the camera will get it wrong sometimes. But when you start shooting manually, you’ll likely have to shoot through a couple of film packs before truly respecting the need to carefully meter this camera.
Every wasted shot from bad metering feels like a penance paid to the exposure gods — you’ll quickly learn your lesson and be more meticulous. Or you’ll just switch back into auto mode depending on your tolerance.
After learning the hard way, I now find it’s really difficult to give up the manual exposure. With this camera, I can do long exposures at night, I can do macro photography, and choose how much contrast I want in the frame by choosing if I want to meter for the highlights or the shadows. It’s been a game changer for my photography.
At the time of writing, the MiNT SLR670-X Ming Edition is my favorite camera in my collection right now. Not only is it a sleek, beautiful camera with incredible optics and precision, but it’s unlocking the ability to do so much more with my photography than I was ever able to do before.
This camera makes it possible to shoot professional landscape and portrait photographs without limitations or surprises on the Polaroid SX-70. It takes a bit of practice, but if you’re patient, and don’t mind waiting for the film to develop for a test shot, you’re going to capture some seriously magical photos on this incredible medium.
Because of the freedom this camera offers, I personally recommend the MiNT SLR670, and especially the X edition that allows photographers to use the sync port for off-camera flash. There has never been a camera like this before, and MiNT has unlocked something truly special.
Daren is a journalist and wedding photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. He’s been taking personal and professional photos on film since 2017 and began developing and printing his own photos after wanting more control than what local labs could offer.