This sexy clamshell produced for a swift 10 years starting in 1971 is by far IMHO the most sought after clicker for anyone living the Willieburg dream. Stocked with a 4 element 116 mm f/8 fixed eyeball, sonar induced autofocus, an a flash bar across its noggin she is the perfect camera for taking pictures of tight jean short wearing men on fixed gear bicycles or large brimmed hatted women drinking kombucha on the sidewalk.
What’s more it’s wrapped in leather. Yeah. Real skin. Which may be the reason why it was used to photograph skin more than any other camera in history.
The Roid70 as no one called it was an instant sensation when released at a convention in Miami in the early 70’s, since coke fueled Westchester retirees from the Borscht belt needed something stylish to take pictures at their swinger parties, while still being compact enough to carry while not wearing any clothing*.
Obviously the thingo that set this picture box apart from all the other picture boxes were the dabnabbit pictures. Polaroid had been giving the ease of laze to photographers since the introduction of the Land Camera in 1947. But the Land Camera used a Kraft Single style development process, which left a wet, nasty peel-a-part element while developing their instant film. THIS … this had no w.a.p. nastiness. This was the birth of the Polaroid shake that made Andre 2999 Andre 3000, and truly revolutionized amateur smut producers worldwide.
What’s more, you could fuck with it. Big time. Take my boy Lucas Samaras who in a positively ancient 1974 began using these new Polaroids to create mind bending high art after finding that the medium was perfect for turning the human visage into gaping assholes. Simply brilliant.
While all this colorful history poised the Roid70 for hipster fame, it is the modern history of the camera that seals it in the annals of Williamsburg legendary. Mods. Yes MODS. This camera has such a beloved following the MODS for it are friggin unbelievable. Sure, there are companies that took over making film for the camera since Polaroid stop making it in 2008, shutting the door on consumers like a lover who’s bootie call has gotten a little too in love with Seamless. The Impossible Film Project (great name, but doesn’t it contradict your actual product?) offers the ability to use these hip-cat time machines with “8 hand selected packs of carefully matured antique IMPOSSIBLE film material at a very special price of just 39 EUR” (that’s an actual quote and if it’s not the most hipster thing you’ve read today, I donno what is).
There is also the OpenSX70 project which replaces the original circuit board in the camera with a modern Arduino board, giving the camera the ability to be bluetooth, internet connected, Android/iOS interactivity, and completely drains it of what actually makes it cool and vintage in one fell swoop. Brilliant.
Finally there is MINT (which is something we used to say in Long Island when a SS Monte Carlo or Z28 with neon underglows rolled by) which takes the Roid70, guts it, and makes it a modern brand new camera! It’s like when Ford came out with the retro thunderbird in 2001! Rejoice!
Don’t be fooled, FOOL, the Roid70 WAS ALWAYS A HIPSTER CAMERA, WITH MODS RIGHT FROM THE START. Perhaps the most notable was the Polaroid 600 PLus AM/FM Radio, yeah, that’s right, the mod that turned your camera into a portable fucking radio, so you can listen to Bon Ivar on Hi-Fi!
What is BRILLIANT about this is WHY they made this add-on. You see the Roid70 was fucking wickedly expensive, retailing at a whopping 180 clams and film cartridges at 7 bucks ($1,100 and $42 bucks now if you can believe it) people were a little miffed, especially at the cost of the film of which there was no other cheaper option (can you say monopoly, Polaroid???). The cartridges were so damn expensive in part because each had it’s own fucking battery to run the camera and dispensing mechanism. Polaroid really wanted to make sure you had fresh juice to run your home porno machine. SO (I’m getting there I promise) they offered a FREE (with purchase of the film, dicks) AM/FM radio that, get this, RUN OFF THE UNUSED JUICE OF THE OLD CARTRIDGE BATTERIES. This … is fucking genius.
As a final thought, take heed that these fat foto wallets are still out there being used in full swing, having traded in their focus on wife swapping for kale chopping, and the price remains a an inhibitive 400 bucks to ride. Long live the Roid70, may you long reign hipster king supreme. Here are my contribution to the long tradition of instant film, at $6.70 a pop, featuring my hipster superstar friends actor Chris Sullivan, contortionist Natasha King, Ace cuisine king Olivier Rassinoux, and mandatory two garbage men in the rain at Union Square.