The super cute SX-70 The Button camera was I believe first manufactured in 1981 for about the cost of $30. It has an off white colored body and a light grey face plate with the words The Button in cute white typeface lettering on the right front part of the camera below the lens. it’s main features are that it has a light meter knob and a socket on the top to take flash bars. This camera can sometimes be found in stock in my Etsy Shop or you can also find them on Ebay.com and in thrift shops. Since it is somewhat “newer” than a lot of other Polaroid Cameras it tends to be in good shape. The main problem that I tend to see when I get these types of cameras is that the socket for the flash bars no longer works or the light meter sensor no longer works. It is most disappointing to find that the light meter no longer works. All of your Polaroids usually come out overexposed, but you generally don’t find out this is the problem until about 3 photos later which have basically all been wasted. I will put a post up on that later that shows how you can tell with using just an empty cartridge that still has battery life and a flashlight.
The Button Polaroid SX-70 currently takes film from The Impossible Project. That is the only film that I really trust to still be used. If you buy expired film from Ebay you may get film that is dried up and unusable or just so old that all of your Polaroids are washed out and and covered with streaks. You can find film online for either Color Shade Film or Black and White Shade Film. They can also be bought directly from The Impossible Project.
The Button camera does not come with a flash, but it can accept flash bars and electronic flashes such as the Q-light. I would high recommend finding an electronic flash since flash bars are no longer being made so there is a finite number of them left in the world. Both flash types can be easily found on Ebay.com and in specialty camera shops. Each flash bar has 10 one time use flashes with 5 on each side. If you run into some trouble with having the flash bars go off you can sometimes run an eraser over the contacts to clean them. When you are using the flash your subject will be best lit if they are between 4-8ft from you, otherwise your subject will appear to bright/light if they are within 4ft or too dark if they are beyond 8ft. This camera has a fixed focus anyways so everything that is 4ft and beyond is going to be in focus, so I wouldn’t really try to take any pictures within 4ft.
Lighten/Darken Control Knob
For most outdoor use you will not need a flash unless you would like to use it for flash fill. So the next thing that you have to worry about is the lighten/darken control to the right of the lens. Most times I start out by keeping it in the middle but if it gets very bright out or if you are in low light and don’t think the flash is going to reach all the way you can adjust the knob. Either looking straight at it you turn it to the left to make it go lighter or to the right to make it darker. What this essentially does is it covers up the light meter on the the camera with different shades of dark plastic so the shutter stays open for a longer or lesser time
Overall in taking photos with the The Button my main issue that I run into is that alot of the images come out washed out and overexposed. I have been dealing with Polaroid cameras alot and I mainly run into this problem with the SX-70’s. I believe it has to do more with The Impossible Project Film than with the camera itself, but I can’t be sure. So contrary to what I said above I would actually try to keep the light/dark knob a few turns to the darker side.
You can see that this picture came out way to bright and washed out, though I do like that it’s pretty clear. This was taken indoors with an electronic flash pointing up at my wall. The next picture a still a little washed out, but has much better color contrast with the knob turned a little bit to the darker side.
This picture was taken outdoors on a very cool spring day and I had it develop in my bag.
So those are the basics, and now you are ready to go out and shoot some amazing Polaroids! I think this camera has an amazing design and can easily fit in your bag. Having the flash bars instead of a large bulky electronic flash still make the camera pretty portable.
If you really like this camera and it’s design as I said before you can sometimes find in my Etsy Shop at this link here. If it’s not in stock you can always drop me a note and I can source it for you for no extra cost and make a reserved listing just for you.
Most times the manual for this camera is no longer with the camera itself, but I was able to get my hands on a hard copy of it. It covers mainly The Button Camera, but it also can be used for other similar SX-70 cameras. If you would like to have a download of it you can find it below.
- Single-element 103mm f/14.6 plastic lens
- Fixed focus.
- Electronic shutter.
- Programmed auto exposure; long exposures possible
- Has Flashbar socket for flash; accessory electronic flashes were also available
- Rigid plastic body
I hope that you have enjoyed this review. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you think I have left anything out.