Sunday, October 22, 2017

I-Type Conversion - Survey Time!

I like getting feedback and input when it comes to new ideas and potential products... it's a beneficial part of the design process and is often confused with "design-by-committee" situations. You may have seen that 2nd Shot is currently developing a camera conversion to use i-Type film. This allows for use of a less expensive and more versatile film (600 asa). Another advantage is that i-Type film packs don't have the traditional built-in "impulse" flat batteries so there's less of these batteries tossed into landfills. Nice. Another goal for this project is to avoid simply tacking on a Radio Shack battery holder and calling it a day. Why not make it look like an actual product with ergonomic considerations combined with styling that compliments the camera's aesthetics... good ol product design right?

I'm constantly reminding myself that this isn't a commercially manufactured product like I was used to dealing with at my last job. This will essentially be a service utilizing handcrafted and 3D printed parts so I'm dealing with a different type of costing process. My goal is to still offer the best service I can at a lower cost but I don't want to sacrifice important features. So posted below is a very brief survey that will help me determine how to go about this service.

A majority of product cost will be for materials... specifically the battery pack housing. 3D printing isn't really that cheap compared to large-scale manufacturing but neither is low run manufacturing compared to 3D printing. Overall size will also need to be determined by the power source. There's the traditional path of using AA batteries as opposed to a li-ion poly battery able to be recharged with a USB cable. Bulky and low cost vs. slim and expensive... it's the eternal struggle of product designers. So I'm reaching out to you guys to help me choose a direction and offer some input. Click away! :)

Create your own user feedback survey

Monday, October 9, 2017

In an attempt to post on this blog more often, I’m going try a new weekly segment offering basic tips and ideas primarily from the manual “How to Take SX70 Pictures” published by the Polaroid Corporation in 1974 (it was included with each SX70 camera purchase back in the day). You may have seen this booklet pop up a lot... it's not just filled with mindless banter and sweet pics of 70s facial hair. This booklet/manual, although very brief, has a ton of info that is definitely worth reading and revisiting to better understand the functional capabilities and limitations of the SX70 and what to do if there are any problems either due to camera malfunction or simply because of user error. There’s also some great general tips for composing shots and what to look for when shooting in various lighting situations. Although considered a user-friendly automatic camera, using the the SX-70 has a bit of a learning curve and a few functions take a bit of getting used to. So, on to tip #1! 

A common problem that is misconceived as a “malfunction” is simply part of the original SX-70 programming. Older Model 1 SX-70s (this also includes early Model 2 and Model 3) require holding down the shutter button for the duration of the cycle and until the print is fully ejected. If simply “jabbed” as the manual puts it, the cycle can be cut off, delayed, interrupted or the mirror can remain flipped up which keeps the shutter blades closed and you won’t be able to see through the viewfinder. Later Models (typically late '75 and up) including Alpha 1, Sonar variants, and 680/690 didn't have this issue. Users could simply tap the button and voltage was continuously applied. This blurb is from page 30 of the manual:


In rare cases, The camera may stop in the middle of an operating cycle because the motor is not getting enough power to continue. (When this happens, you may not be able to see through the viewfinder, or to close the camera fully)…

One is jabbing at the shutter button instead of holding it until the picture comes out. The remedy is simple - press the shutter button again and hold it. The camera should complete its cycle. If it does not, open the film door in dim light and pull the pack out about an inch. Push the pack in again and close the film door. The counter will reset to 10. The camera should complete its cycle, ejecting the top piece of film which will have been exposed and should be discarded.”

There’s other reasons for mid-cycle failures such as a dead or weak battery, but since this manual was written 43 years ago and these cameras are now glitchy antiques, there could be something else wrong with the camera (weak motor, migrating fresnel light baffle, shutter malfunction) and it’s best to send it in for a repair.

Here's what happens when simply "jabbing" the shutter button on a Model 1. 

This shows normal operation when holding the shutter button during a cycle. Be like video 2. 

It’s very important to note that if the camera stops mid-cycle, do not attempt to force close the camera! This can cause all sorts of things to break inside like the viewing mirror or the hinges on the flip-up fresnel screen… Not a cheap fix.

Check in next week for more Prof. Dirty Rollers SX-70 Tips! :)