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  • - Hi. - Good to meet you. What's your name?

  • - Knox. - Knox.

  • Go ahead and step up to our table here.

  • So, I'm gonna put a piece of tech in front of you.

  • - Give me your thoughts... - This part smells like paint.

  • - what you think it is... - This part smells like a car.

  • what it might do.

  • Does this open?

  • - What do you think it is? - I can't really tell

  • - but, like, a printer? - Great guess.

  • - You're on the right track. - Oh.

  • You're, like, halfway there.

  • - Yeah. - Oh!

  • - Now I know what this is. It's a camera. - What is it?

  • Technically, you're right about it being a printer.

  • - ( whirring ) - It's both a camera and a printer.

  • Knox: Cool, very cool.

  • I'm Marques Brownlee and I review dope new tech.

  • But on this show, I'm rewinding the clock

  • to discover the tech of the past

  • that changed our lives forever.

  • This is "Retro Tech: Polaroid."

  • Hey, what's up, guys? MKBHD here.

  • So, the tech I'm about to look at today

  • is the oldest piece of tech I have ever unboxed.

  • The Polaroid SX-70 came out 20 years before I was even born.

  • I'm a big fan of photography already.

  • The high resolution smartphone cameras,

  • the mirrorless world, but it was this camera

  • that changed the way we think about photography forever.

  • Oh, wow.

  • Is this the retro look or what?

  • I've seen Polaroids before,

  • but I've never actually used one, shot with one.

  • So, I'm excited to see what's in the box.

  • This is a tripod mount.

  • A bracket looking thing with some pins.

  • Close-up lens.

  • Holster accessory.

  • ( sniffs )

  • I don't know what 50-year-old leather

  • is supposed to smell like.

  • This is the camera itself, and it's collapsible.

  • That's dense. That's real metal.

  • All right, so here's how to open and close it.

  • Hold it in the palm of your left hand.

  • Lift the small end of the viewfinder cap.

  • Pull straight up.

  • Why is this not opening?

  • Hold it in the palm of your left hand.

  • Oh, you really have to yank it.

  • Like, it feels like you're breaking it.

  • All right, I do have some Polaroid film.

  • Photos develop in 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Insert the film this side up.

  • Hey, there you go.

  • Big smile. Three, two, one.

  • ( clicks, whirring )

  • Okay.

  • Now I try to find the photo I just took.

  • Hmm.

  • ( clicks, whirring )

  • Okay.

  • I don't want this to be the first piece of retro tech

  • I've broken out of the box.

  • And as we know, I've had great luck

  • with fixing retro tech in the past.

  • So, this is really no problem for me at all.

  • Oh, man. This is gonna jam the same way printers jam.

  • ( whirring )

  • And there we have it.

  • Okay, so I finally figured out how to take the photo,

  • but I still have a lot to learn

  • about the history of the iconic Polaroid SX-70.

  • - First of all, thank you for joining me. - Man, thank you.

  • I'm gonna ask you first off to go ahead and check underneath your seat.

  • Check under my seat. Is this liquor?

  • This is pristine. Mine is not.

  • Polaroid is kind of similar to Apple

  • in a sense that all of their products

  • just, like, feel good in your hands.

  • It's a pleasure to touch, this leather.

  • Even after 45 years, it still feels good.

  • - There's no film. - Marques: I thought we had film left.

  • Remember when that used to happen?

  • No.

  • - No, probably not. - Yeah.

  • What was it like to take photos

  • before the Polaroid was invented?

  • Depew: So before the innovation of Polaroid,

  • photography was a much slower process.

  • Photographers would have to shoot their film, take it to a lab.

  • It was a process that would take days.

  • Wood: You know how when you pose for a photo

  • and then somebody tells you it's a video?

  • That's what taking an actual photo was like back in the day.

  • You just stand there for like an uncomfortable length of time.

  • That's why every photo from back in the day, nobody's smiling,

  • 'cause they're mad.

  • They're like, "How long is this photo gonna take?"

  • Santiago: In walks Edwin Land.

  • He was kind of a chemist more than a photographer.

  • Bonanos: He was a Harvard student when he invented the polarizing filter.

  • It's a filter that allows the amount of light getting through to be controlled.

  • So that was his first product,

  • and in fact that built the company.

  • Man: Cool-Ray Polaroid sunglasses.

  • See about them.

  • Depew: In the beginning of Land's pursuits,

  • he had no idea he would be in the camera business.

  • In 1943, he was on vacation with his family.

  • And he takes a picture of his three-year-old daughter,

  • and she says, "Dad, why can't I see this picture right now?"

  • Bonanos: The story goes that he spent the rest of the evening

  • walking around the resort and worked out the rough plan

  • for how one would make an instant camera.

  • Depew: So it was in 1943 that instant film was conceived,

  • but it took 30 years

  • for it to actually come to fruition.

  • The dream of being able to take a wallet out of my pocket,

  • and perhaps open the wallet, press a button,

  • close the wallet, and have the picture.

  • ( music playing )

  • Depew: The SX-70 was really the ultimate realization

  • of what Edwin Land had in mind

  • when he first created instant photography.

  • This camera ushered in a whole new film line

  • called an integral film.

  • So this is film that's in a sandwich.

  • The positive and negative and developing chemistry

  • live together under a Mylar sheet.

  • There are three chemical pods,

  • and these all contain a bunch of magical chemistry goo.

  • Bonanos: And the rollers shmush the chemistry

  • and they coat the layers of film inside the packet.

  • Then a number of reactions take place.

  • Depew: All these timing layers are firing at the same time.

  • Everything you would need in a traditional dark room process

  • is happening within this very thin sheet of film.

  • It cannot really be overstated

  • how much of a quantum leap this was

  • in photographic technology.

  • The very fact that you could see your image so quickly after taking it

  • was an absolutely mind-blowing thing

  • for everyone in the world.

  • All right, want to try to take a selfie with it?

  • Has anyone ever taken a selfie with a Polaroid?

  • - Probably not a very good one. - All right, let's try.

  • But I think it's worth a shot.

  • - Wait, what does that knob do? - That's exposure,

  • and I think all the way white is all the way open. I think.

  • This is gonna be a terrible photo.

  • - We'll see how it goes. - Let's just try.

  • - All right. - ( clicks, whirring )

  • Yeah, that's a terrible photo!

  • Turns out I didn't check the focus.

  • Imagine if a fourth of your iPhone memory was wasted

  • on one photo and the photo looked like this,

  • and you only got eight shots left.

  • What are the eight things you want to remember forever?

  • Marques: Even though today's digital cameras

  • are light years beyond the Polaroid SX-70,

  • many photographers still love using this camera today.

  • So we're out here in New York City.

  • I'm with Phil V., who I think--

  • would it be safe to call you the mayor

  • of instant photography in New York City?

  • You've shot Polaroids of everyone from artists to celebrities.

  • - First of all, why Polaroid? - It's a tool for communication

  • because this camera is pretty much like a conversation starter.

  • I'm looking for the best experience between me and that person.

  • That's just something that you can't get with digital photography,

  • especially on the spot, instantly.

  • I'm so used to having all the manual controls.