6/9/2017 0 Comments
The thing that really hooked me into photography was the absolute, undeniable thrill of “taking a photo” and then “hoping it came out.” What was even better was the process by which I could see the photo come to life, either in a darkroom, or thanks to Polaroid, thanks to an “instant” printer called the SX-70.
At today’s inflation rate, the SX-70 cost more than $1000 and a pack of film - adjusted for inflation cost $40 or $4 a photograph. It was very expensive for a high school senior but I had to have one and I was lucky enough to be able to afford one.
While Polaroid has been around since the 1940s, the SX-70 was a really ground-breaking camera. You could push a button and in a matter of seconds take several photos that would “develop themselves” in a matter of minutes.
The SX-70 camera is long gone (although a few years ago it became hip to try to get an old one to recreate that look of a true Polaroid image.)
I also used Polaroid film backs on my old Hasselblad system. Since we couldn’t check the histogram on important shots, we’d take off the regular film back and replace it with a Polaroid back. We’d “pull a Polaroid” test shot (or two) to make sure everything was copacetic and then we’d switch backs again and go back to regular film. (I’m getting tired just writing about it.)
Then - along came digital cameras and of course Photoshop actions that could make a digital picture LOOK like it came from a Polaroid.
So the SX-70 is gone but NOT the excitement and thrill that surrounds carrying a camera that is capable of making a print in under a minute - on the spot - as soon as you press the shutter button.
Polaroid has brought back that same thrill with the Snap Touch camera. It even has an LCD touchscreen display, video and Bluetooth and an app. If old Edwin H. Land (the company’s founder) could see what we have now I am sure he’d be impressed. You can use the Snap Touch to share photos digitally via its app, but you can also make a print. I mean a real print. (It relies on a MicroSD card (128GB max) for some of the digital functions. 13MP Photos / 1080p/720p Video - with various capture modes.)
You can make these prints in less than 60 seconds thanks to the printer's ZINK zero ink printing that produces photo-quality, full-color output without using ink cartridges, ribbons, or toner. It’s that last part that is the secret sauce.
Before you get too excited note the prints are just 2”x3” but that is large enough to be enjoyable. I found them to be reasonably high-quality. They are NOT lab quality but this technology has improved over the years and I found the final product to be quite enjoyable.
Other than the print size, and the lack of ink, etc., what sets this camera apart is that it has a 3.5” viewfinder. You can charge it with a USB to Micro USB charging cable (no removable battery) and it even has filters and borders you can select just for fun.
Unlike the old SX-70, you can review each image and decide if you want to print it or not. Also unlike the SX-70, you get 20 images to a “film” pack and they cost even less ($24,88 for a 50 pack) on Amazon. Note that you can only insert 10 sheets of film at a time.
I spent the day just walking around with this little guy. It fits in my shirt pocket and I found it oddly freeing to just (like I did when I was a kid) snap away at anything that caught my eye.
It does have some practical applications. I can imagine any wedding or portrait photographer using one of these to either entertain (or occupy) wedding/portrait subjects while the “real” camera was doing its thing. It’s also just plain fun. And as I get older, I realize that the Internet has managed to take the fun out of photography - well if you let it do so anyway.
The camera will NOT replace your Canon 5D. But it does have a pop-up flash, comes in several colors and can do just about anything most digital cameras can do (there’s even a burst mode) but it can ALSO make prints. And THAT is the only reason to buy this camera. If you want a fun point and shoot you already have one in your cell phone. But if you want to dazzle your party guests by photographing them in the middle of all the fun and then hand them a paper record of it all, this is your camera.
Don’t confuse this with the original Polaroid Snap. That camera is cheaper but, it had no monitor and the new version is a definite improvement. At $180 in today’s money the new version costs less than 20% of what an original SX-70 would have set you back in the 1970s and it does a whole lot more cool stuff than the SX-70 could do, and it's smaller.
While I haven’t subjected the Snap Touch to a long-term test, I can tell you that the prints actually come out in under the promised minute. The prints seem to be smudge-proof and Polaroid says that they will last.
As long as you have reasonable expectations, for $180 it’s a whole lot of fun and you never know when it will end up having some utility for certain photographers, even pros.
Because of all the features, the small size, the reasonable price, the improvements over the original model and especially the touch screen LCD, I rate the Snap Touch as highly recommended.
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