Discovering a Box of Rare, Mint 1980’s Polaroid SLR 680 Cameras

A polaroid 680 camera with a black cover.

Considering the recent resurgence in pricey Polaroid camera reinventions, discovering a whole box of the old analog ones would be great.

This is exactly what happened recently to the retailer Mint Camera when it was moving into a new warehouse. Its staff stumbled upon a completely unopened box that turned out to contain several perfectly intact Polaroid SLR 680 cameras.

For a bit of historical context, the SLR 680 is a Polaroid instant camera that was originally introduced to the market way back in 1982.

Since then models spent the following decades disappearing from the market and now they’re among the hardest old cameras to find in mint condition anywhere.

For example, editions of the camera on the Polaroid website itself are marked at a hefty € 1900.00, though they’re listed as out of stock.

The 680 is based on the SX-70 Land Camera and is a true single-reflex device that lets photographers precisely frame their shots in a way that typical Polaroid cameras weren’t capable of.

It also includes an autofocus and is compatible with extremely fast 600 series Polaroid film, making it one of only two camera types with this compatibility.

In other words, finding a whole box of them that had never before been used by others is indeed a lovely little piece of photographic luck.

According to Mint Camera in an email,

“Last month, we moved into a new, larger warehouse to store all the cameras, films, and accessories, and to prepare ourselves for a very special project coming up next year,”

Shortly afterward, the retailer’s staff discovered the box. They explain,

“It took us two weeks to move everything from the old warehouse to the new one, and for anyone who has moved, a lot of hidden treasures can be found when you relocate. I mean, a lot. Stuff that we thought were lost, found. Stuff that we thought never existed, appeared. Stuff that were forgotten, packed away in a worn wooden box in the furthest corner of the room.”

And just like in a scene from some movie about lost old treasures, one of these boxes contained the 13 SLR 680 cameras that the company found.

A box with Polaroid 680 cameras in it.

The retailer, being a camera seller, understood the value of the find immediately. As the email succinctly describes,

“The SLR680 is a legendary camera, produced by Polaroid in the 1980s. It was the pinnacle of instant photography technology during its era. Its folding SLR design and integral 600 film system made it an iconic tool for both amateurs and professionals alike,”

These cameras won’t however be selling in their original mint condition. Mint Camera has upgraded them to be used with newer i-Type film and given them a new type of battery that’s USB-C rechargeable.

While these touches may spoil a bit of historical authenticity, they’ll make for a much more practical shooting experience for would-be buyers.

Mint justifies the change by adding,

“The original SLR 680 is only compatible with 600 films, a limitation that many SLR 680 users have voiced complaints about due to its lack of versatility. However, we’ve addressed this issue by upgrading all the cameras to Type i, equipped with a rechargeable built-in battery. So much better.”

If you’d like to be one of the few people who get their hands on one of these rare rediscovered cameras from Mint, you’re out of luck though. The retailer listed them all for an individual retail price of $1,199 and they quickly sold out.

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