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POLAROID SLR 690

Polaroid SLR690

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I bought this new from Calumet in 1998 when the MSRP was $399. It was still wrapped in the box with the manual, strap and blank USA warranty registration card when I sold it on eBay here for a couple of hundred dollars in June, 2005.

The little switch is for flash ON or OFF. Click to see it bigger.

It's a brilliant camera that folds to fit in a big pocket. It uses no batteries: each film pack has a new one. The SONAR based autofocus is better than a Nikon D2X: it works fast, and is not confused by subjects off center. It also easily focuses on blank walls and other low- or no-contrast subjects that fool the best through-the-lens focus systems of other cameras.

It has both automatic and live, real image focusing. It focuses closer than a foot.

The SLR690 is Polaroid's most recent iteration of the original folding SX-70.

The SLR690 takes all the current 600-series film. Some people customize it to take the old SX-70 film so they can do manual manipulations. Oddly as of July 2005 someone wrote me that Polaroid goofed and accidentally eliminated the manipulative ability of the SX-70 Time Zero film and that Polaroid's investigating to see if they can restore it.

This is the documentation. The strap was never unwrapped.

Here's the box.

And here's how it's all packed up when you slide it out of the box. Click to enlarge.

Polaroid's press release has all the facts:

POLAROID RE-ISSUES CAMERA CLASSIC -- NEW POLAROID SLR 690 CAMERA RE-CREATES FAMED SLR 680

SLR 690 FOCUSES ULTRASONICALLY FROM 26CM

COLOGNE--18 September, 1996 -- Polaroid today debuted at Photokina '96 a contemporary version of its famed SLR 680 instant camera--a camera first shown internationally at Photokina '82 and discontinued in 1987. Continuous demand by instant photo aficionados and by professionals requiring the camera's unique attributes for business imaging prompted Polaroid to re-issue the SLR 680 as the new SLR 690.

The new Polaroid SLR 690 camera offers all the advanced instant photographic features of the original SLR 680 including its distinctive, legendary Polaroid SX-70 camera look and feel. A singular concession to contemporary technology is the replacement of the SLR 680 camera's digital integrated circuitry (IC chips) governing the exposure system with a digital microprocessor--a four-bit single-chip micro-computer. Assembly screws have been converted to metric measurements as the new SLR 690 camera is manufactured in Japan through Nippon Polaroid Kabushiki Kaisha (Polaroid Corporation of Japan), Polaroid's Japanese
subsidiary. The original Polaroid SLR 680 was manufactured in the U.S.A.

The encore of the classic Polaroid camera was first prompted in Japan primarily by requests from technical, scientific and medical imagers. Reports were received by Polaroid of ardent SLR 680 fans keeping their treasured cameras in safes, calling the camera "the best camera Polaroid ever made."

A true and faithful re-iteration of its predecessor, the new SLR 690 is a folding, single-lens-reflex, autofocusing camera built on the legendary Polaroid SX-70 platform, with built-in electronic flash that automatically aims its light at the subject for evenly-lit, brilliant instant photographs on Polaroid 600 Plus film. The high ISO 600 rating of Polaroid 600 Plus film allows rapid shutter speeds and small lens apertures for greater depth of field, more true-to-life, action-stopping pictures and the use of the small, low-intensity integral flash in the SLR 690.

Designed to be used in most picture-taking situations, SLR 690's flash is linked to the camera's autofocus system and angles to direct flash illumination precisely at the subject for correctly-lit ultra-close-up portraits or to add "fill-flash" to outdoor scenes, softening shadows and erasing harsh contrast.

The flash charges automatically in just three seconds as the camera opens from its compact closed position and after each picture is automatically ejected to develop in the light in 90 seconds.

CLOSE-UPS AT 26cm, 124 FOCUS ZONES

The computer-designed, four-element, 116mm, f/8, coated, precision glass lens focuses automatically from 26cm to infinity through 124 ultra-precise focus zones. The camera's Polaroid-pioneered sonar focusing system--computer- clocking the travel time of high-frequency sound waves transmitted by the camera and echoing back from the subject--is linked to the flash assembly and sets the strobe at the required angle for proper lighting.

Through-the-lens viewing aids correct composition, while a unique shutter release "preview" feature assures the photographer that the subject is in sharp focus

All power for the electronic flash, autofocusing system and advanced electronics is derived from the wafer-thin battery in each 10-exposure 600 Plus film pack

SLR 690: TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Exterior appearance: High-strength ABS housing. matte black finish

Dimensions: 24.5 x 10.5 x 2.5cm folded, 17 x 10.5 x 13cm open

Weight: 793 grams

Lens: Four-element glass lens, 116mm f/8 fully-coated and corrected; focuses automatically by ultrasonic echo ranging from 26cm to infinity through 124 focus zones

Viewing: Single-lens-reflex, through-the-lens viewing; textured Fresnel mirror
focusing screen; Focus preview shutter release

Shutter: Programmed aperture/shutter speed; electronic, two-blade scanning aperture system; shutter speeds adjusted automatically from 1/180 second to 14 seconds; apertures from f/8 to f/90; three-stop (+ 1 1/2 stop) lighten/darken control

Flash: Integral, regulated, inductive storage strobe; fill-flash capability; charge and recharge time, three seconds with SPAR (Strobe Preferred Automatic Recharge) control

200 zonal lumen seconds output (400 BCPS, stored energy capacity, 15 joules (15 watt seconds). High-efficiency reflector mechanically articulated for precise flash direction as close as 26cm

Strobe charge/exposure inhibit circuitry (camera will not operate until strobe fully charged). Power derived from 6-volt battery in 600 high speed film pack. Bypass switch for ambient exposure

Film: Polaroid 600 Plus instant color film with Polapulse battery powering all camera functions (strobe, autofocus, mechanics, electronics, 12,000 rpm film ejection motor); 10 exposures per pack

Exposure control: Ambient exposure control by real-time, visible light integration, using center-weighted, scene-averaging, silicon photo diode and electronic logic to control solenoid-actuated, scanning aperture

Flash exposure by follow-focus. Highly accurate ranging information from ultrasonic system used to establish correct aperture for measured subject distance in combination with constant light output of electronic flash, provides full flash exposure. At higher ambient light levels, flash is fired at 40 percent of complete ambient exposure, limiting ambient contribution while adding flash illumination for fill-flash photography

Additional features: Autofocus bypass switch for manual focusing, built-in tripod mount, exposure counter (descending 10 through 1), neck strap

Photo made by this camera of our doggie Molly in June, 2005. The autofocus macro and automatic flash exposure is great, even with the five-year out of date film I used!

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