The iPhone camera is the new Polaroid SX-70

It seems we are slowly getting rid of the old debate of Canon vs Nikon (Nikon of course!) when a new one is developing. Kodak had recently announced a new professional Portra 400 film and the question is WHY? Obviously they have a market for it or they would not be making it, but who is using it?

I have recently pointed this questions to a US based wedding photographer who had mentioned on twitter she is packing up her rolls of film for a wedding shoot. I wanted to know why but got no reply from her. I obviously deleted her from the list of people I follow. Maybe I was not diplomatic enough when I asked her if this was a way to differentiate herself from the other photographers rather than a creative decision. The answer is clear of course. There is nothing that cannot be achieved digitally today, and the only reason for someone to start shooting weddings, of all subjects, on film would be to try to look cool and sophisticated at the cost of making life more difficult, and expensive, for themselves. Competition may be hard in the US and one needs to find creative ways for marketing other than just creating great photography.

Now don’t bring up the music LP vs music CD comparison as there is no basis for comparison. As far as photography is concerned, the quality of the new digital media is much superior to what we used to be able to get on film. I can say this because I know film. I grew up with film and studied it at photography school. I have worked with film for almost fifteen years and I know what can be done with it. Never the less, film was fun. It had a charm and working in a darkroom was a wonderful thing. Exploring the old techniques is an important thing for the new generation of photographers, but I would not go so far as to go back to film.

Since film was so charming, and as we are all nostalgic in a way, we either start going back to using film for fun (or for marketing purposes), buying a Holga camera, get excited about the revival of the Polaroid film, or start using great apps to recreate the feel that we were so trying to avoid then. the old films used to have. Yesterday’s mistakes and faults are today’s style. One of the coolest cameras and film ever invented was of course the Polaroid SX-70.

The iPhone camera is the new Polaroid SX-70

For those of you who started their photography journey in the digital age the term Polaroid SX-70 might mean very little, but in 1972 when it was first introduced, this little SLR had created a wave that rippled through the photo industry. The legendary photographer Walker Evans had acquired an SX-70 in 1973 and began playing and experimenting with it. He first regarded it as a toy but later was so fascinated with the results that he ended up devoting the last fourteen months of his life almost exclusively to this gadget. Artists like Lucas Samaras and David Hockney had created incredible work with the SX-70 and the list can go on and on. Such was the impact of this camera, and a somewhat similar thing is happening today to many photographers who are using the iPhone. In a way, the Polaroid SX-70 and the original Sony Walkman — 70s and 80s-era products both touched the same desire to share experience that drives Web 2.0 today.

The iPhone camera is the new Polaroid SX-70

So, in the spirit of the SX-70, check out these few super cool desktop and iPhone apps:

POLADROID (http://www.poladroid.net/) is a desktop application that will easily transform your picture into an SX-70 look-alike. Very easy to use, just drag and drop, and you even get the delayed developing effect while you slowly see your image come to like. looks great!

On the iPhone, check out instagram that gives a really nice Holga and other vintage effect using a few selected filters.
Other photo apps I am using on my iPhone are: Chase Jarvis’s BestCamera and Photoshop for iPhone. I like mixing the filters of these apps so will often manipulate an image in one app and then use the manipulated image in the other and so on.

Please also have a look at the work of Lucas Samaras who has done incredible work with the original SX-70.


The iPhone camera is the new Polaroid SX-70The iPhone camera is the new Polaroid SX-70

  • Atul Pratap Chauhan

    Oh sir,,you told me this roll story in Hotel….very different post this time, enjoyed reading this…

  • Sephi, I just blogged yesterday about instagram. I really love it. Someone suggest I look at Hipstimatic. http://bit.ly/8iHzeC It is fun, but gives you less control and too many ¢99 add-ons. Instagram is far easier to use and allows or instagra-tification. I love your images above. The only thing I miss from the film days was the tactile feel of the chemicals and the pungent smell of the stop bath. But, not enough to find myself packing up my 5D and going back to film. I am with you on this one!

    • Thanks Matt. Instagram is indeed fun but I wish I could make new combination of filters. In that sense I prefer the BestCamera where you make your own effects. I think having all these apps and moving images from one to the other is the best thing at the moment.
      I too miss the darkroom but I get my satisfaction working with the wood camera on my Fatafat project. I’ve always been attracted to alternative techniques.

    • Thanks Matt. Instagram is indeed fun but I wish I could make new combination of filters. In that sense I prefer the BestCamera where you make your own effects. I think having all these apps and moving images from one to the other is the best thing at the moment.
      I too miss the darkroom but I get my satisfaction working with the wood camera on my Fatafat project. I’ve always been attracted to alternative techniques.

  • Thanks Brian. Long time indeed.
    I would love to see this section on your website. please send me a link.
    I wonder where all this is going. The iPhone 4 camera is already much better for night photography and has an HDR feature. I don’t think it will be long before we use an iPhone on a commercial assignment!

  • I agree with you. The best thing about callphone cameras are that they are constantly with you. And that, I think, gives me better value than even my much adored DSLR.

    As for good apps, try checking out Pixrl-o-matic. I love the effects that you get there. And best bit, you can download many new ones for free.

  • Volkmar Weber

    What program do you use to get this sticker at the bottom of your polaroid pictures?