Polaroid introduced its 600 film in 1981 as a higher-speed variation of the original SX 70 film. These are both “integral” films, the kind where the picture shoots out of the camera and develops before your eyes.
The OneStep 600 was the first camera made to use the new film. It comes with a plastic (probably), fixed-focus, single-element lens said to be 116 mm at f/11. The camera couples some sort of light meter to an electronic shutter, which can fire from 1/4 to 1/200 sec. Flash is via a “Flash 600” bar, a strip of ten flash bulbs you plug into the top of the camera. They were designed specially for these cameras, and thus haven’t been made in ages. My camera came with one that has one unused bulb on it.
There’s nothing to using the OneStep 600: frame the shot, press the button, done. While the button slides easily, it is in a somewhat awkward place. Fortunately, the camera is easy to hold steady in your hands while you shoot. And shoot I did with one of the packs of 600 film (expired since 2006) I had left over after using my similarly-named but newer One600 earlier this year.
This is my favorite shot from the pack. I learned while researching this post, after I’d shot the whole pack, that the lens is sharpest at four to five feet. Given that Polaroid cameras were positioned as the ultimate fun camera for taking pictures of friends and family, I guess that makes sense. This traffic barrel of in the middle of my street was right in the lens’s sweet spot.
Most everything else I shot was much farther out than five feet, which resulted in softer focus. Not that this lens is ever pin sharp.
These photos don’t look any different to me in terms of color and sharpness than the shots I got from my One600. Photoshop Elements made these scans look way better than the actual photos, in which all colors looked brown. Even though Polaroid integral prints always had muted, off colors, the brownness of these prints (and the black corners where the emulsion has eroded) has got to be because the film is so long expired.
Polaroid’s integral-film cameras were popular when I was a kid in the 1970s and 1980s and I always wanted one. Even now I’m charmed when this camera shoots out a print which develops before my eyes. But as I look at each of these photos (and all the others in my Polaroid OneStep 600 gallery) I keep thinking that I could have done so much more with these subjects using pretty much any non-Polaroid camera in my collection.
Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection!