How to Shoot Long Exposures with a Polaroid SX-70 [Video Tutorial and Blog Post]

If you want to shoot long exposures with a Polaroid SX-70, there is no feature in the camera that allows you to do so.

However, there is a simple workaround that you can use to achieve long exposure Polaroids.

What You Will Need:

  • Polaroid SX-70 loaded up with film
  • Tripod
  • Light meter or light meter app to judge exposure (optional)

Step 1 - Set Up Your Camera

For step 1, you will want to do the following:

  • Set up your Polaroid camera on a tripod
  • Focus and compose your image
  • Use a light meter to measure exposure.  Set the aperture to f/8 and the ISO to 160.  This will give you a shutter speed reading, which lets you know how long you need to leave the camera open.

For example, if you're shooting at night, let's say that hypothetically you will need to leave the shutter open for 30 seconds to get a correct exposure.

Step 2 - Cover the Light Sensor on the front of the Camera using your finger

When you cover up the light sensor it keeps the shutter open and prevents the camera from spitting out the photo immediately.  This is necessary to get a long exposure.

Step 3 - Press the Shutter and Then Quickly Open the Film Door on the Camera

This step needs to happen quickly.  Once you press the shutter, immediately open the film door on the front of the camera.  Be careful not to shake the tripod or camera when you do this or you may get a blurry image.

On the Alpha 1 model, the film door release is on the right  side of the camera.

This is where the magic happens.

Once you've opened the film door the SX-70's internal electronics (including its metering system) are turned off.  But since the shutter is still open it will continue exposing the film to light.

Step 4 - Close the Film Door and Press the Shutter Again

When you are done exposing the film, close the film door and press the shutter again to release the photo.

Sometimes the photo will spit out automatically once you've closed the film door, so you may not need to press the shutter again.  But if it doesn't come out automatically just press the shutter and it should come right out.

Results

Here are some long exposure photos I've taken with the Polaroid SX-70 and Impossible Project color film.

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About the Author

Dan Bullman is a portrait photographer and YouTuber based in Boston. He produces educational videos, gear reviews and other content to make you a better photographer faster.  His videos have been viewed over 1 million times.  His portrait work has been featured on accounts like @moodyports @followingboston and @portraitmeet.