Sunday, February 10, 2008

Polaroid is dead, long live... ??

It's all over the photo forums, flickr, etc. Polaroid seems to be closing up shop on instant film and cameras. Oddly enough, there is no mention of this on the Polaroid website. Maybe they just haven't worked out the logistics/marketing angle for the move from film to all digital. Whatever the case, it is sad, indeed. There is currently plenty of film available. They have thousands of packs listed as available on the website. But when they discontinued Type 80s, it took about a year before they were scarce, to the point of virtual extinction. Depending on when they actually stop producing film, I'd say 2010 is probably the point at which we are all going to Ebay for our Polaroid.
Integral will go first. It's the most obviously available, with 600 (and sometimes 779) being sold at Walmart, Walgreens, grocery stores, etc. It is also the film format that has no alternative. Fuji makes some very nice, low priced peel-apart films. And while I prefer the peel-apart over integral, I still don't want to say goodbye to integral.
Will Fuji fill the gap in integral? Who knows. They do have an integral type called Instax, which is a smaller format, similar to Polaroid i-Zone film. I actually want to get an Instax camera sometime soon. The colors are just looks like another fun little camera. I just need to figure out which one to get. Some are goofy-looking in bright colors, probably designed with the younger crowd in mind. And I figure if I spent any amount of money on the nicer cameras, Fuji would immediately discontinue the format. There seems to be a Panoramic Instax, too. Of course, none of these are sold in the US. Not sure what makes the US so anti-film. Other countries are able to embrace future technologies while still celebrating the past. Maybe it's just the size and the population. Marketing to the masses and all that. And, of course, it really is all about money. On that note, I can fully understand why Polaroid doesn't care about instant film anymore. Digital is instant, and Polaroid isn't for the masses anymore. It's for the cool people, the people that take pictures because that's what they do. I'd say that 9 out of 10 consumers, at least, just want to take pictures of everything and anything and just collect them on a cd or e-mail them to friends/family/whatever. Why get excited about spending $20 for 10 photos when you can take 700 pictures on a $20 memory card? I'm not saying I agree, but I understand what big money wants, and that is big money. They aren't in the business to support artists...they are in the business to make money.
Once Polaroid stop making instant film, who cares anymore? They become just another digital camera maker (and one I've never even bothered looking at). And if this is any indication of what they come with, I want no part of it. They did announce a somewhat interesting creation, the Zink, created by ex-Polaroid employees, I guess. But I found that Fuji already has something similar, so even that isn't so exciting. Plus, it's basically just a printer for digital pictures. Wheee.
I'll just buy my Fuji instant film as long as that is produced, and maybe someone else will pick up the slack and produce instant film.
Anyway, I love using Polaroids. I don't have as many Polaroid cameras as this person, but I have more than a couple.
First is the Polaroid 195. The nicest of my collection, fully manual with a huge lens for super sharp pictures. You can open the lens wide enough to overexpose Polaroid film in a dark room! I recently fixed a few leaky spots in the bellows. It takes Type 100s (667, 669, etc.) and Type 80s.

My other fave is my Square Shooter, which I modified with a Colorpack II front, because it had a glass lens and the switch for Type 87 (3000 ISO). I still have a few packs of square film left.

My SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 2 has never seen any SX-70 film use from me. I modified it to use Type 600 and 779.

The One600 was my integral film camera before I got the SX-70.

The Sun 640 I've never used. I just bought it because it came with a couple packs of expired 600.

I've never used this OneStep, either, as it uses SX-70, and I don't know how to modify it. It doesn't pull apart easily like the Alpha...seems to be maybe clips or something that hold it together, because I don't see any screws. Classic rainbow design, though!

This Super Shooter was I think my first (current) Polaroid camera. I'm pretty sure this is what I had when I was a kid, too. Takes Type 100s. I say I think this was the first because there are a couple I've trashed trying to take them apart. Tore up the plastic and such. They are dirt cheap, so no biggy. I actually don't seem to have hardly ever used it. Mostly shot square until I got the 195.

I've never used this Swinger 3000. It was only $3 and cool looking. It only takes Type 667, 3000 speed film. A one trick pony, I guess. Someday I'll take it out. That hole in the top is for a flash, I think. Very groovy finish. Someday I'll buy a couple different Polaroids and put them together to make an atrocity. Like a red Zip with this front or something.

This was my first Polaroid Pinhole camera, made from a Square Shooter 2. It will never get used again, as I would hate to waste my remaining square film in the thing.

My second pinhole (actually third, as this one has been two different pinholes) was made from a dysfunctional ProPack that I bought at Goodwill, only because it had a sticker on the side that said "Adult Probation Department." It was only $8, which is too much considering it didn't work. But it is a perfect camera to take apart if you want a Polaroid back. So right now it is a pinhole. Someday I may use it for something else.

And, last, is the Polaroid 150 that I talk about in my last post. Proof that we may still have Polaroid film 25 years from now.

So, Polaroid is dead...

Long live Polaroid!


  1. Anonymous7:11 PM

    Great post, beautiful photos!

    I'm going to mourn the loss of Polaroid in a big way - I've tried the Fuji 100 peelapart in my polaroid pinhole camera and it's just too clean and sharp and perfect. I miss the curl of the paper, the bluey cast, the warm wonkiness of polaroid.... very sad.

  2. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Oh no, what a loss, and just as I'm at the beginnings of my Polaroid use. What am I going to do with my Polaprinter, use it as a doorstop? Thanks for sharing this sad bit.

  3. Anonymous8:39 PM

    This is sad news to me as well. I just got a bunch of old polaroid cameras from my uncle. Hopefully Fuji still makes their peel-apart for a while so I can use them.

    I don't know what I'll do with my SX-70. I don't even have it modified yet. Guess I better stock up on 600.

  4. Film for artists? Heck, there are companies still making oil paints, why not a specialty company making film for artists? There are photographers who have built their careers around Polaroid material. Are they now finished?

    Actually I could see dumping 600 and Spectra film and reformulating ISO 125 Time-Zero integral. "Consumers" don't want Polaroid anymore, so stop making film for them. Make film for artists. Or did I already say that?

  5. Anonymous1:57 PM

    once again, you run such a great and imformative site here!

    I'm so sad every time I see another film go. so sad.

  6. Just discovered a Polaroid Swinger 3000 in my grandmother's house. I'll probably never use it, but it sure looks cool.