Ahh, Polaroid film. Flawed, unpredictable, pricey, and yet – deeply satisfying on so many levels. An anachronistic pleasure that every film enthusiast should at least once experience. And what better way to enjoy it than by shooting with a Polaroid SX-70, as the photography gods intended? But – since almost fifty years have passed since the SX-70 camera was designed, should we not aspire to something more refined, more in step with the times? Yes, I believe we should. And this is where the MiNT SLR670-S comes into play.
For those who are not familiar with Polaroid cameras, the SX-70 is a folding SLR camera placed on the market in 1972. It was the first “real” instant camera and became hugely popular thanks to its usability and revolutionary design. It retains a cult following to this day – and for good reasons. The MiNT SLR670-S is basically a revamped, more advanced version of the original Polaroid SX-70. Something that should not even exist in 2020, were it not for MiNT, a one-of-a-kind Company designing instant cameras for Polaroid and Instax.
What is new
MiNT gave to the SLR670-S a new electronic “brain” and a detachable “Time Machine” dial allowing to manually change the shutter speed. This is HUGE, as it gives you control over exposure, unlike the original SX-70. Another advantage is that the Time Machine includes two automatic settings (“A100” and “A600”) that allow you to shoot both SX-70 film (rated at ISO 100) and 600 film (rated at ISO 640).
This saves you from the hassle of getting a ND filter to use 600 film, which I find more forgiving than SX-70 film, particularly for color. The Time Machine dial also includes a timed exposure and a bulb setting to experiment with long exposures. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000 of a second, much faster than the SX-70 and helpful when shooting in full daylight.
What is not new
Apart from these improvements, MiNT left the original SX-70 design alone. Camera handling and operation, except for the Time Machine, are unchanged. The lens, which has a fixed aperture of f/8, is tack sharp as always. Focus is manually adjusted through a wheel and is easy to nail thanks to the big and bright viewfinder. When fully collapsed, the MiNT SLR670-S camera can easily be carried around in a pocket.
The MiNT SLR670-S does not have an internal battery, which is instead included in each film’s cartridge (this is why the SLR670-S, like all vintage Polaroids, is not compatible with the new i-Type film manufactured by Polaroid). Besides the shutter and internal electronics, the battery also powers automatic ejection of the film after each shot. The camera does not have a built-in “frog tongue” (although you can buy one), so pictures must be immediately shielded from light until fully developed.
What is better
It is hard to overstate how much the Time Machine improves the shooting experience with respect to the SX-70. Being able to choose the shutter speed gives you a lot of creative control which, coupled with the precision of manual focus, basically means more keepers. The quality of the images you can obtain from a MiNT SLR670-S is, in my opinion, best-in-class. And, although image quality is not what instant photography is about, it is nice to get sharp pictures without the excessive softness of fixed-focus instant cameras.
What is worse
Actually, the only downside I can think of is the price. The MiNT SLR670-S is quite expensive for an instant camera. I believe its cost is justified by the fact that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find SX-70 cameras in salvageable conditions. In any case, if you love shooting Polaroid instant film, I believe you cannot find a better alternative right now. By the way, MiNT sells a couple of other variants of the SLR670 camera. The SLR670α is not compatible with the Time Machine, whereas the SLR670m only has one automatic setting on the Time Machine and require a ND filter to shoot 600 film. Although these models are cheaper, I would argue that the MiNT SLR670-S provides the best value.
I hope you enjoyed this mini-review of this great camera. Thank you so much for reading! If you also like instant photography, please follow me on Instagram (@brickwall_photo).