Press: A 24K Gold Instant Camera for the Gold Disk that Changed Photography
September 12, 2023
MILWAUKEE, WI — Retrospekt, a product design and development studio dedicated to creating unique experiences through new and refurbished retro tech products, is celebrating the little gold sonar disk that forever changed the focus of photography with the SX-70 Sonar Autofocus "24K Gold Edition," a limited release of 99 fully-refurbished instant film cameras plated in 24K gold. Each camera is built using components from vintage Polaroid SX-70 Sonar Autofocus instant film cameras that have been completely deconstructed and restored.
In 1972, Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land introduced the world to the revolutionary SX-70 instant film camera — the world’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) instant camera, the first to automatically eject photos, the first to use integral film (the self-contained development system housed in the iconic white frame) and the first to fold down to a size that could fit into the pocket of a suit coat.
A mere six years later, in 1978, he once again pushed the entire world of photography forward with Sonar Autofocus. Attached to SX-70 instant cameras, it was nearly the first (second by only a matter of months) camera — not just instant camera, ANY camera — with an automatic focusing feature. Emitted from and captured by its iconic gold disk, the Sonar Autofocus system used high-frequency sound waves directed at the subject to provide immaculately focused photos instantly at the push of a button. Almost 50 years later, SX-70 cameras with Sonar Autofocus still create instant photos with unparalleled crispness and depth-of-field, unrivaled by even the newest of instant cameras.
From their workshop in Milwaukee, WI, the team at Retrospekt has restored more vintage SX-70 cameras than anyone, both for their own customers and for Polaroid itself. That kind of exposure has created a special bond — not to mention lots of hands-on knowhow — with this icon of instant photography. To create these very special, limited edition pieces, vintage SX-70 Sonar Autofocus cameras have been completely disassembled, cleaned, stripped of their original chrome plating and plated in 24k gold. The cameras are then reassembled with the freshly refurbished internals and finished with the application of new, genuine black leather coverings embossed with the individual unit number. After being calibrated to ensure their functionality for another lifetime of use, they are encased in special gold-edition packaging.
A small amount of gold-plated Polaroid SX-70 cameras — both with and without autofocus — already exist in the world, as they were occasionally given out as gifts to Polaroid employees for milestone work anniversaries. Their extremely low production quantities have made these models highly desirable to collectors.
The SX-70 Sonar Autofocus “24K Gold Edition” instant film camera will be available in a limited release of 99 units directly from Retrospekt.com for $1200 starting September 12, 2023. The cameras use Polaroid SX-70 film (sold separately) and are powered by the fresh batteries built into each film pack.
Retrospekt is a highly-specialized workshop and product design studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin committed to the exploration, restoration and curation of retro technology. They started their foray into the world of retro tech by supplying Polaroid with refurbished and restored vintage instant cameras and now offer a full line of vintage camera models in addition to developing official Polaroid camera collaborations with both national and international brands, such as Mattel, Sanrio and FENDI.
Since 2008, they have pursued vintage electronics and the delight of analog technology, breathing new life into cameras, portable cassette players, classic gaming consoles and other retro tech oddities. Over the last decade, their team has saved over 300,000 devices with a comprehensive refurbishment process that faithfully restores each item to perform like it did the day it was originally manufactured.
In an increasingly fast-paced world, it can be easy for digital convenience to become digital overload. Retrospekt hopes the items they offer will provide people an opportunity to slow down, step back and enjoy a more tactile and intentional experience. Visit Retrospekt.com for more information on Retrospekt and its offerings.