Polaroid 'The Button' - A Charming Little Box / by John Winfield

Delving through cupboards can lead to some rather interesting discoveries. Delving into someone else’s cupboards can lead to some incredible and shocking discoveries. Although I found no secret treasure maps, proof of alien life or evidence hinting towards an illicit affair with a Spanish prince; I did find a few vintage cameras in my late Nan’s cupboards. One of the finds was a 1980’s Polaroid ‘The Button’.

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Polaroid’s ‘The Button’ was the cheap alternative to the popular Sx-70. It is made of plastic, auto exposure and a fixed focus plastic lens. They made several versions of this Polaroid box camera in all different colours, the most famous of which being the inspiration for the Instagram logo.  This is quite a charming camera; its boxy shape has something quite child like and fun about it. Looking at his face on you can see this is a camera that is meant to be fun; although the grey colour scheme doesn’t really shout fun, you know this camera is the kind of camera to be taken to the beach or to a party to instantly record memories. 

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The camera is pretty limited on features; where the Sx-70 has manual adjustable focus, the ‘button’ has a plastic lens and a viewfinder that is offset meaning that what you see there is not what you get on the picture. This however can be expected when you see that when the Sx-70 launched in 1973 it cost $180 ($960 in todays money) the ‘button’ however cost $30 in 1981 ($75 in todays money) This cheap cost makes it feel fun, you don’t really worry about something on It going wrong because there are so few things that can. Although it is cheap it still seems more than sturdy, it could survive a few bumps and drops without anything going wrong with it. This makes it a fun camera to just throw in your bag and not worry about.

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  On a day in-between the crazy winds and torrential rain of February in England there was a rare occurrence, a sunny day. I thought I would go take ‘The Button’ for a walk.

 The beauty of instant photography is in the name; I can instantly see how good of a picture I have taken, it rewards you instantly for doing well and thus punishes you if you haven’t done well. Here is my selection of photos taken with ‘The Button’

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With an aperture of f14.6 the biggest thing that this camera needs is light. One of the biggest problems this means however is that if there is not a lot of light or conditions are not ideal then the electronic shutter stays open for longer; this means that the shots are susceptible to camera shake, which leads to blurring. 

When you do get the light right though the images you get are charming; they produce a lo-fi individual and personal image. They are very rewarding when you get the picture right, which in turn makes you think more about your image because you want that shot to come out right.  This camera is essentially a bit of fun; when you play with it right it lets you have lots of fun but even when your not so perfect with it, it can still leave a smile on your face. 

I would also like to note that the Polaroid scans were done on the new Impossible Film app. It works incredibly well and also has a social aspect for you to share your pics with other Polaroid users, check it out.