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Philip Morrison ...
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Wonderful film for amazing machine
13 August 2002 | by (State College, PA) – See all my reviews

The Polaroid SX-70 is quite possibly the most amazing camera ever produced. This film by the Eames Office, made at the time of its introduction, showcases it excellently.

Historically, the SX-70 was the first Polaroid camera that produced pictures that ejected and developed themselves (with previous models, photos had to be manually retrieved and development had to be timed). The camera itself was an SLR that used a complicated optical system and a unique folding design. (Later models introduced autofocus through sonar.)

The film is divided into five parts. First is a sort of "cold open" that briefly recaps the history of the Polaroid Corporation. Then, we are introduced to the camera itself and some of the things for which it can be used.

Then we see sort of a mini-instruction manual (most people who see the SX-70 are confused about its operation, especially how to open it). The fourth segment is the amazing one: we actually go inside the camera and see its inner operations (the raising and lowering of mirrors, the passing of the photograph through rollers, etc.). Finally, we see the manufacturing process, accompanied by some narration (of what and by whom, I do not remember; it has been quite some time since I've seen this).

This film certainly does justice to what may well be Edwin Land's greatest achievement. It can currently be found on The Films of Charles and Ray Eames, Volume 4.

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