Polaroid enthusiasts unveil new instant film
Time to dust off your SX-70
Owners of Polaroid's classic SX-70 camera will this week be able to buy the first of a new batch of instant films for the model, courtesy of The Impossible Project.
Since Polaroid stopped production of instant film back in 2008, the tech has until now been available only from existing stocks and through Fujifilm, which offers a few professional products and dedicated packs for its Instax camera range.
The Netherlands-based Impossible Project, headed by Dr Florian Kaps, has invested €2.3m to develop the PX 100 monochrome film packs - the first of a range of products which will include a B&W PX 600 release in the coming weeks, and a colour film in the summer.
The Impossible Project unveiled the decidedly-sepia PX 100 at a New York press conference yesterday (see sample pic). The film packs, with eight instant snaps, will go on sale this Thursday on the project's website, as well as at selected Asian, European and US retailers, for $21 a pop.
To ensure the survival of the instant in a digital age, The Impossible Group said it intends to produce one million film packs by the end of the year followed by three million in 2011, finally ramping up to 10-15 million packs a year.
Polaroid, meanwhile, has moved into the inkless printer market, based on zero ink (Zink) paper. ®
Yes, it's an art thing...
Y'know they still *make and sell* oil and watercolour paints! Why? Don't these 'artists' know that photography killed painting in the mid 19th C.? (Paul Delaroche)
Blimey, why would anyone bother with all that fuss when digicams and computers can do stuff so much more _easily_!
... 'coz that's what this world needs, more 'art' made by the empowered masses.
Many of the more arty type of photographer would tell youigital cameras in general do not produce results as satisfying as film excepting, perhaps, those equipped with the wonderful Foveon sensor).
Many would tell you that the Bayer type sensors which dominate the market are responsible for this. They certainly do some very strange things to produce the colour image that you see. The colour at each pixel of the image is interpolated from one photosite and it's neighbours because each photosite is a single colour. So the colour of each photosite influences that of it's neighbours. That's not the worst of it however, that honour is reserved for the fact that a Bayer sensor has twice as many green photosites as red or blue ones so the interpolation of colour data has to account for this.
Even a monochrome image suffers as a result of this since the brightness of red, green and blue light at the adjacent photosites must be worked on to give the final monochrome image. And bear in mind that it has to account for that heavy green bias.
Colour film, as eny fule kno, has layers and filters so that each layer records one colour and the three layers are effectively overlayed when developed to produce the final colour image. With monochrome film the silver halides effectively record the brightness of the light, no clever adding of colours. For that reason it's quite difficult to get a digital camera to replicate the results of
Foveon sensors have three layers seperated by filters so that the colour at each site is created by adding the colours together at the same point so there is no effective bleed between pixels. Also the photosites are bigger and so give better low light sensitivity, less noise and a better dynamic range. All of which seems to give a result more like that of film. To my eyes at least a Foveon sensor gives results that look much more like those of colour film.
Instant prints are brilliant
'Instamatic' type cameras are very useful in out of the way places. Three years ago a group of us travelled to Ecuador to visit some indiginous peoples. One member of the party took a polaroid type camera (actually Fuji) to give photographs to tribespeople who had never seen a picture of themselves. (If you live in a jungle you may not even own a mirror).
A rugged and simple device that doesn't rely on electrical supplies compensates for the cost of the film.
One day the whole world will own a mobile phone with a built in camera - and yes some tribal people owned one, but at the moment there are at least a billion people who do not.
It isn't every day that you meet a tribesman who hunts with a blowpipe - but when you do it is a wonderful experience to be able to give them a photograph of the meeting so they they have a momento - we can take out digital cameras back home and print out as many prints as we like.
Well done to the people who are keeping instant photography alive - there is still a need for it.
What's future proof about digital? Are you sure that your CCD sensor isn't obsolete in 2 year's time? That your inkjet/thermal prints haven't faded in 10 years? That you will still find a working SD card or a workign reader in 25?
Given that they've sold...
...more than half a million packs of Polaroid film that they bought up in the original liquidation, over the last year and a half, it seems like there is a market- just not the one you seem to think.
My experience with this is that Polaroid is an excellent niche market, just not the mass-market product you seem to assume. When you're at a party and you offer someone a polaroid snap, you don't just take a picture, you also give them a gift. There's a unique tactile element, too, that you don't get from digital photos, where everyone clusters around to watch the photo develop. There's a magic in watching it- and people seem to respond to it.
If you've got an old Polaroid hanging around, and you attend gatherings, you could do worse than to blow a tenner on a pack of film for it and see.
Then there are a number of factors that really make Polaroid irreplaceable- firstly, that lack of a negative means that once the photo's developed and set, it's set in stone. This is something digital formats just can't replicate, and it's something that gives polaroid photos more weight in court cases. This is very handy when you want to sue that builder who screwed up your house.
Secondly, the film is huge compared to a 35mm negative- easily the largest consumer format- which means you can actually blow them up really large before they lose detail, at least if you're using an SX70 or Spectra camera that has a decent glass lens. These cameras are far more compact than other large-format film cameras, and a lot cheaper too (you can pick them up for a few quid on eBay.)
Thirdly, if you're at a party and you take a picture of someone, and they don't like it (or they're doing something that might get them in trouble...) then you give them the photo and they know for a fact that you don't have a copy to upload to the internets. That's a big win in my experience.