Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cases Cases Cases!

We've been able to expand the inventory of accessories in the past week as we're going to start offering full camera packages. Each package will include a near mint refurbished SX-70 camera, high quality SX-70 case, original instruction manual, and a flash bar. Pictured in the center are flawless MINT condition Coast Manufacturing Co. SX-70 cases that were purchased from an avid collector in MA (Thanks Al!). These cases were found in an old shut down photo store in their original boxes and look, even smell, brand new! Something else interesting, a very rare and very nice genuine leather Sonar Ever Ready case just came in from Germany... Danke! New camera packages will be listed in 2 weeks so keep an eye out on Etsy and Ebay!

A new SLR680 arrived the other day and cleaned up very nicely. The newer style motors are very tempermental. We've been getting a lot of later model cameras that have "kinda working" motors but after a quick reconditioning, good as new!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Istanbul Bound and The Emperor's New Clothes

Here it is 3 in the morning again. We've been rushing to get two great orders together, one of them headed to Istanbul, Turkey! How cool will that trip be?! The other was the SLR680 that I took pics of and posted earlier. I had to go back to the shop with that one... it wasn't clean enough. There were still some cracks that showed dust and the edges were a bit rough but I found that a few drags with the edge of a steel ruler brings it back to a fine corner... there's one of my tricks. :) I can finally get back to my Model 3 order that I put off for too long. Also, we're working on a new *hush hush* custom, "Red Sonja". I'll give a hint... it's red.

Here's a fantastic custom ordered Onestep Sonar package. I really like the dark brown on this model. The case cleaned up nicely and included is four packs of PX70 film and 4 NOS flashbars... I really hope it's new owner will be very pleased.

And here's the Emperor again... this time fully cleaned.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The SX70 and the Marketplace

If you're visiting this blog then you may already know that Polaroid SX-70s have made quite a little comeback in the last 2 years thanks to the folks at the Impossible Project developing new film. You may have searched for your own camera online but didn't know what to look for or couldn't tell the difference between certain models. There are some great technical reference sites like here but I'll try and run down some basics on what to look for and the difference between what's good and bad. Remember, this is a bit on the subjective side of the sales spectrum and strictly from my general observation of online sales. There's a ton of different models but these are what seem to be the most popular:

Model 1 - This is the iconic Polaroid SX-70 and prices are all over the map. It never really said "Model 1" anywhere on the camera but it's what it's commonly called... just guessing because it was the first model. Just guessing. There's millions of these out there and a lot still work. First year models didn't have the split-lens viewfinder and are REALLY collectible. I don't think I'd ever reskin one of those regardless of the condition. My experience with the Model 1 has been hot or cold. I've received so many different models in different conditions but I'd have to say about 20% of Model 1s I get end up in the "parts" pile. Frustrating right? Imagine how frustrating that can be to a first time buyer. Something interesting to note about the Model 1s is that they don't work well with electronic flashes. I've noticed that best results can be achieved with good ol reliable flashbars. Shots with electronic flashes on the older style shutters (see below to tell the difference) come out really dark.

Alpha 1 - This seems to be the grandaddy of sellers. Folks will pay a premium for an Alpha 1 in great condition and rightfully so. It's a gorgeous camera. The dull metallic plating hides a lot of blemishes and it features the later style "hybrid" shutter systems that allows for flash fill and more accurate programmed exposure times. I've found an easy way to tell if you have the hybrid shutter is when you open the film door and find where the shutter assembly attaches to the body the hybrid shutter will be attached with a flex circuit ribbon. The older style shutter assemblies (which were actually solid metal) were connected with what looks like a bunch of wires wrapped in a tight spring. The Alpha 1 also had a tripod socket and recesses on the back bottom cover where a strap could be attached. I've seen more and more sellers calling a Model 1, "Alpha 1". Make sure "Alpha 1" is written on the film door shield plate.

Model 2 - This is a really cool camera because it's like Gene Simmons without the makeup. These models were an attempt at reducing cost by removing the plating and using lousy PVCish (porvair) panels. Why is it cool? It's white/ivory. Something you don't often think of when SX-70 pops in your head. Because of being "different" and having a bit of a contemporary color scheme, these can go for a nice chunk of change, especially if the porvair is in good shape.

Model 3 - I constantly find myself defending this camera. Purists will turn their noses up at this camera saying "It's not an SLR! It's not an SLR!" and this will turn away the novice SX70 buyer. True, it's not an SLR but it's capable of taking the same quality pictures as an Alpha 1 once you get the hang of it. Polaroid's final attempt for saving some bucks on the folding SX-70 cameras led to removing the hooded SLR viewfinder and replacing it with a HUGE viewfinder lens perched on top of the body. It's like cokebottle glasses on a kid. The disadvantage to this is no longer could users focus via the camera's lens but now had to "ballpark" their shots and guess the distance of their subject, something a lot of people may have found next to impossible after five highballs at a super swingin party. Why defend the Model 3? It's a little tank. I have yet to receive one that needed extensive repair. The lens is no different than that on other SX-70s and there were less parts to break.

Sonar - Beleive it or not, the Sonar was one of the most expensive cameras to purchase of all Polaorid cameras in the late 70's because of the autofocus technology. This is a very misunderstood camera as there isn't much information about how it truly differs from more pouplar models but there were a lot of variations (Onestep, Time Zero, Model 2 AF, SE, etc...). First turnoff to buyers today is that GIANT Notre Dame Cathedral window at the top of the camera. It looks very awkward and it strays a bit from the old school aesthetics that Model 1 had. Truth is, the Sonar has EXACTLY the same quality and capabilities of an Alpha 1. The cameras are identical, shutter/finish/function, with the exception of the Sonar having that huge forehead and black panels. Ever notice there was never a Sonar Alpha 1? Bingo. The autofocus mechanism itself is an entirely different animal however. One minute it can work, the next *kaput*... and it can be very frustrating to use the manual mode with no split-circle viewfinder. With the higher demand of Alpha and Model 1, I'd anticipate this to be a more sought out model in the near future. I love working on these... Its so rewarding to hear the enthusiastic whir of the autofocus motor come back to life :).

SLR680 - Whenever I see this camera, I think of Darth Vader. It's kind of intimidating to see all theat technology stacked on top of another piece of technology forming a giant wall of... technology. This was one of the only folding integral cameras to use 600 type film, the SLR690 being the other. Again, exactly like Sonar models but with a very convenient electronic flash built in. Becasue of this and the fact that there still is some good expired 600 Polaroid film out there, this is a highly desirable model and will fetch a premium in good condition.

I'm sure I've missed a lot about each camera but I like to keep it short and my fingers hurt. Plus the keyboard's "s" sticks and I have to keep correcting my typing. These are some cool things to know about the more popular SX-70s and why they're priced the way they are. It's been said time and time before from myself and others, make sure you buy a "film tested" camera with a guarantee and warranty (Hey, 2nd Shot does that! - /plug). There's nothing worse than getting a "new" camera and having it spit 24 bucks of 8 frames of PX70 film all at once because of a broken coupler. Ask me how I know... ;)

So here's a few shots for this evening... First is the final stages of all 2nd Shot cameras before being shipped. They get a final polish (fingerprints = bad), final shutter check (that's for my own sanity), and a burst of some duster, then packed tight for a safe trip to their new home.

And finally, little things like this make us all sorts of giddy. Here's a case of MINT SX70 flashbars. I'm going to add one to each of our next round of sales. So cool. My man is ROCKING that moustache!

2nd Shot Gains Momentum

Well, after over a month of starting the SX70 service and with a ton of help from Dubbs, I have to admit things are taking off quite well! A lot of folks have emailed with either questions or comments about the cameras or even about Polaroid in general and I love answering them :). All the latest Ebay sales have finished up and we're getting ready to ship a bunch of orders, we have a few custom requests that are in progress, and there's another batch of cameras to start fixing/dressing up. I have to say, although a bit stressful at times (as cliche as it sounds, we're really shooting for satisfied customers), this is FUN! We get to crank some tunes and work in the shop for 3-4 hours each evening just chill and focused... some nights are later like tonight but it's good to be busy.

So what's been going on? Well, tonight I had the pleasure of fixing and dressing up a very nice SLR680, what some consider the Cadillac of Polaroid cameras. This was in ok shape when it arrived but after about 8 hours of work into it it works like a new camera. This is essentially a Sonar with an electronic flash built in. It's very top heavy and sticks out like a sore thumb but man does it take great pics and I love the stealth look of it. I'm also working on the series of Model 3s that I had mentioned earlier and I also started a package deal that will make its journey all the way to Istanbul! How cool is that!? Stay tuned for more pics plus a quick breakdown on the difference between some camera models and my take on why they're priced the way they are.

The Emperor!

As of this evening, all the cameras shown here are sold with the exception of the SLR680 and the custom blue Sonar. Check out the sweet Bumblebee Model 3! More pics of that one on our facebook page.

Some shipments get the VIP treatment. This tan Model 1 is being shipped to a photographer in Vegas.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Model 3 stat!

Sometimes I get a camera that someone did all the work for me. Here's a nice little Model 3 that was wrapped in actually a very nice vinyl distressed rainbow print... Peeled right off and viola! I ran the usual inspection of and cleaning but little treats like this are always welcome...
2nd Shot is now on Facebook! Stop by and take a peek!

Here the little porker as I like to call the model 3s. I dunno why. They have that look... I love em!

Some cameras don't make it...

So I had about 15 minutes to spare yesterday eve and decided to take a gander at the next group of cameras I have to fix up. I have an order of 4 Model 3s to get dressed up (more on those later) and I'd like to get 7 more cameras ready for sale. There's a lot of mix and match going on too so I have to be very careful on what parts I take from what camera. I have this Model 2 that I got a while back that had what I thought was a busted coupler because the motor would keep running non stop. It turns out the fresnel carrier (that little trap door that goes *FA-FLUP* when you take a pic) had a broken hinge and the carrier cracked into the inside viewing mirror when someone tried jamming it closed. That's 7 years right there down the drain... glad I didn't do it. :)

In these situations I strip the camera of all the parts and screws and posts and springs so I can use them on other cameras. Unfortunately the rest of the chassis has to be tossed. In order for me to replace the carrier I'd have to break into the bellows and the amount of time it takes to do that justifies just using a donor. Broken mirrors or ripped up bellows = new camera time.

I have some cool stuff coming up non-sale related to post including a discussion about a few differences of models, an in depth look at the leather used on our cameras, and a few of my own shots that I've take over the past year. 

Roll Call! From top left counterclockwise: flex circuit with motor and mcc, miscellaneous screws, posts, and springs, complete viewfinder assembly, complete grear train assembly, gear train cover, bottom cover, complete shutter assembly.

This is what I call the "barf bucket". It's a box I use when peeling off the old beat up porvair. The real leather skins come off nice and easy...

And here's the waiting room as of yesterday...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2nd Shot Store is Now Open!

Tonight I have listed 6 of my cameras on Ebay and the custom blue Sonar on Etsy. My Ebay ID is "mwidmann" or do a search for SX70 and you'll see the rainbow logo on the item pic. I hope they find their way to new homes and happy owners. I have to take a little break from cameras for this week to work on some miscellaneous illustration but I'll be back with some cool work on 4 Model 3s and a whole new batch of fixers! Some of these will be really down and dirty repairs so stay tuned. Plus I'll post some new progress on Hickory, my keeper camera from NC.

I also want to announce that 2nd Shot SX70 Service is no longer "I" but "we". My wonderful, loving, patient, understanding, "puts up with my (*^%", girlfriend "Dubbs" (her name's Jenn) has been helping me out with a LOT of marketing and getting the 2SSS name out there on the internet so I kinda volunteered her as my marketing manager. I can't thank her enough for all her help. She really knows her stuff when it comes to marketing and business (she's also an amazing artist, cook, friend, etc.) so I owe her a lot. :) Here's a few other spots you can find us.





And for some non-camera related stuff... here's a link to some of my artwork. Just throwing that out there.

Scupbucket on Deviantart

Not too many pics to post tonight... I bid everybody a happy Sunday and leave you with a picture of a late model flex circuit with motor and MCC attached. What you see here can make a slow and tired camera like new again... Exciting huh? I think so.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Speck" the Alpha 1

Almost showtime! I finished up 2 more cameras in the last 24 hours and these are just about to go up for sale on the "Bay" and Etsy! These 2 cameras are my favorite yet... I think mostly because I now have a very good routine down for cleaning these and using my checklist definitely helps. I would have to say that these 2 are definitely "gems". Later model SX70s used a different type of plating, more of a frosted texture other than the chromed look. These clean up very well and can look brand new. Combine the cleaned surfaces with new leather and I'm in love!!! *sigh*

So let me talk about "Speck". This camera works amazing and looks amazing. I just got finished with a 3.5 hour cleaning, ran all my tests and checks, reskinned, and took my test shot. This camera looks brand new... and I'm not exaggerating. But there's a .5mm little speck of dust trapped in between the inner lens elements. I have tried EVERYTHING to get it out!!! Air, vibration, tapping... but I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. It's one of those tiny details that'll keep me up at night. I want these to be perfect. That's just how I do it... :)

Here's a few shots of "Speck"...

Some shots of the classy Sonar. I'll be selling this with the Ever Ready case... nice match!

Finally, here's a few shots of the cameras that will be for sale starting tomorrow night (dark brown Sonar not shown in the second pic)!...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Film Glorious Film!!!

Yep! 12 Packs of Impossible PX70 chilling in the fridge. I loooooooove getting film almost as much as I looooooove burning through it. IP has come a very long way and I tip my hat to all they offer and all they've done to keep Polaroid alive and well.

The reason why I bought so much film is that I need to take test shots. The test shot is the final step I take once a camera is disassembled, repaired (if needed), and put back together. It's about a 3-4 hour process just to clean it... repairs can take much longer. But I love doing it. I love to bring back a sick and coughing camera to full function. *sigh* It's very calming and therapeutic. Ohmmmmmmm.

So here's tonight's fix and reskin. A very nice SX70 that looks to have had a pro repair back in the day. I could tell right away by the porvair bottom covering. Sure enough, it looks to have had a few capacitors added on the ECM and on S5 and S3 switches. Crazy... I'm doing research as we speak. Time for PICS!!!!

Sweet delicious film... OM NOM NOM!

(and I'm gonna eat those meatballs later... the ones in the tupperware)

Black SX70... has a bit of a sinister look...

Taking a few test shots... forgot how tricky PX70 can be... finally got it dialed in.

And finally some camera pron...