Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Four): The Polaroid Super Colour Swinger 2

Instant photography, 1976 style

Cast your mind back to the summer of 1976: standpipes in streets; baking hot temperatures, and a mother of all downpours to finish. Needless to say, a good time to holiday in the UK’s seaside resorts and, probably, a great year for ice cream companies, Kodak and Fujifilm.

No holiday’s complete without a set of snaps, but the average photographer couldn’t see their results at an instant. Unless of course they purchased…

The Polaroid Super Colour Swinger

If you were too impatient to send your pictures off to Gratispool or call in to your favourite chemist, the Polaroid Super Colour Swinger offered a genuine alternative. It was, in 1976, Polaroid’s mid range instant camera, for colour and black and white film.

Each Polaroid film pack includes eight to ten sheets of photographic paper. The photographer would set their focus levels at the lens. On its right was the exposure controls. Set to the easterly position, the image would be perfectly exposed. Further north, overexposed; further south, underexposed. On unlocking the shutter button (by turning it around), you press the shutter button to take your photo. Within seconds, a print appears from the rear of the camera. After a few moments, it is ready to put in your photo album.

The original Polaroid brand was launched by Edwin Land in 1937. They began producing polarising goggles, hence its name. They patented the instant camera in 1948 and fought off a legal battle with Kodak, when they launched their instant camera. The Rolls Royce of their range was the SX-70, an instant SLR camera. Besides the Colour Swinger, cheaper models were made available for the consumer market. Its unique selling point was lost in the late 1990s when digital photography became widespread.

The original Polaroid Corporation would fold in 2008. However, Polaroid Mark II would be known for its digital devices, though another foray into instant photography has been made. Shortly after the original Polaroid Corporation’s liquidation, The Impossible Project bought their manufacturing plant in Enschede and began making films for SX-70 and 600 series Polaroid cameras. They are also available at their Manchester shop on Stevenson Square priced £17.50.

Today, a secondhand Super Colour Swinger can fetch £25.00. Unfortunately, the 80 series film it took has long been discontinued. Therefore, if you’re passionate about Polaroid cameras, go for any of the 600 series cameras. Scour the charity shops. Oh, and that reminds me, I still have a 635 camera knocking about somewhere (1990 vintage)…

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Spring/Summer 1976;
  • Page and item numbers: page 59, item 12;
  • 1976 Prices: £16.95 (£22.95, RRP);
  • 2014 Prices: £124.18 (£168.13, RRP).

S.V., 04 December 2014.

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