If you think the Polaroid SX-70 is a difficult camera to work with, then the MINT SLR670 is probably for you. And if you’re just not a refurb or used kind of guy,…well. Mint has done it again. Although this camera has been out a few months, it is only now making its way to the marketplace. When something gets to B&H, I figure it to be mainstream. Plus, they came out with 3 models. How did a Chinese company, (Hong Kong), slip this past the Germans and Japanese?
The models are the SLR670α, SLR670m and SLR670-S. IOW, ya got your automatic camera and ya got your manual control versions. Before this, without going to Impossible’s I-1 camera, you were stuck with a used SX-70. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But life goes on, and tech moves forward. What Mint did is design a little add-on called the Time Machine. In essence, it gives you control over the shutter speeds while the aperture stays at f8. Perfect for a Polaroid camera? Probably not, but a great leap forward nonetheless. And the most tech advancements a Polaroid-type camera has seen in years.
This camera has the best image quality from any instant camera. Past or present. The viewfinder is Leica-bright, SLR and has a split image circle. It still has the great ‘folding into a compact body’ ability. As the Polaroid SX-70 had. And it’s simple to use. No digging through menus. But, with all the thought that went into this camera, why they left out a pc connection for studio strobes seemed stupid. However, it has a 2.5mm output for external flash on the optional Mint Flash Bar 2. The flash unit runs on 2 AAA batteries. Like a Nikon SB-400. The range of the flash is 2 to 10 feet. I assume that’s with Impossible’s SX-70 film and at f/8. However, can’t be any worse than those little 70’s flash cubes.
The Time Machine plugs in the top of the SLR670-S and SLR670M. You CAN’T use the Time Machine AND the Flash Bar 2 at the same time. But the flash bar can be used on a Polaroid SX70. Probably the smartest thing they did. Especially for flash shooters like me. So where does this “Time Machine” fit in? Well, if you never use flash and want to control shutter speed, it’s a great thing to have. If you’re also a flash shooter,…it sucks. Sorta. But I suppose it has something to do with a set sync speed. There are also two different auto modes, A100 (SX70 film) and A600 (600 film), which are in tune with the ISO’s speeds. Unplug the Time Machine and the camera will automatically go into A100 mode. In auto mode, it’s f/8 to f/22. The shutter speed with a time machine is 1 to 1/2000 of a second, but your aperture is stuck on f/8.
You can manual focusing through the very bright viewfinder and just use the exposure compensation dial. Eyeglass wearers? No problemo. The build quality approaches the original Polaroid SX-70, and even exceeds it in some respects. It’s tight, solid, lots of metal. No “Hello Kitty” Fujifilm camera here. The Time Machine is also a balanced combo of plastic and metal. It seems sturdy enough. In fact, other than the Time Machine, it’s pretty much an SX-70. Since the flash bar works on both old and new, no advantage there. So, if you like the SX-70, ergonomically, you’ll like this camera. I guess you would also have to like the Impossible film,…unless you have a refrigerator full of Polaroid film.
You can set the camera to auto with the Time Machine attached. If not, get out your light meter or iPhone app. You’ll need it. One thing that’s obvious. The lens on this camera is miles ahead of the original Polaroid. Very clear, very sharp and really nice bokeh. The good; They come in Black and Silver and supposedly the Mint SLR670-S is their “flagship” model. And it’s compatible with SX70 and 600 instant film. The bad; While this camera is a SX-70 improvement, it ain’t a cheap camera. (about $700) And while the flash bar is genius, not being able to use with the Time Machine is disappointing. Visit MINT at the link below for more technical comparisons and groovy little videos. Any advancements with instant film is welcomed. There is a vast and hungry community out here.