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Friday, 08 February 2008


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Remember the Polaroid Instant slide film? It gave a saturated watercolor look to your photos. I took some to Buenos Aires, when I was posted there in 1983. Now if I could just find those slides!

Incidentally, all of the large-format photographs of Michigan I posted a few months ago were taken on Polaroid Type 55 p/n film.

Mike J.

To be honest I thought they were out of business years ago.

What a shame, though perhaps inevitable. I think there has been a surge of interest in Polaroid in recent years, and certainly the passing of SX-70 film was mourned, but I guess not by the mass market. The only paragraph that gives some hope in the article is "...Polaroid chief operating officer Tom Beaudoin said the company is interested in licensing its technology to an outside firm that could manufacture film for faithful Polaroid customers..."
Are you listening, Fujifilm?

The only Polaroid camera I ever used was a laboratory model that was attached to an oscilloscope screen and used ASA 3000 film, if I remember right. We'd photograph the scope trace and measure values off the photograph. The film was not cheap and we were encouraged not to shoot more frames than absolutely necessary.

That's certainly a big difference between digital and Polaroid. The instant feedback is similar (and can be quite valuable), but all my life I had a strong sense that Polaroid was valuable and needed to be used carefully, whether in the studio or on my own.

Mike J.

I really think Polaroid was a mixed bag of tricks in the last 20 years anyway, The Fuji 2 1/4 instant film packs looked like Polaroids (was Fuji already making some of the packs). I think the film base was made by Kodak years ago.
It was a great product in it's time, I never had two boxes that gave me the same color. The clients always said how "out of focus" the 4X5 Polaroids looked and the comment was "are you sure the film will look better". When I switched to Digital and they saw (or couldn't see) the small 1" screen of the 1Ds the word was "hey thats great" shoot it. Go figure.

However inevitable this was, I didn't expect it quite so soon. I had hoped for a more gradual decline, with the company continuing to profitably produce relatively-popular products like Type 55.

But it seems that, like Kodak, they grew so big they can't easily scale down again to become a small boutique provider.

I sincerely hope someone does license their technology. Fuji would be an excellent fit - they are still committed to film, and already capably producing instant products. If Fuji were to revive classics like Type 55 and Type 59, that would be spectacular.

Or if not Fuji, someone. But I think it's a tough sell for anyone else. I can't see the likes of Fotokemika or Harman threatening their own tenuous existence by assuming the risk of launching a product family they have no prior experience producing.

So just in case, I'm getting another refrigerator specifically for the purpose of filling it with Type 55. I have a love affair with that film, and I'm not ready to let go.

That is a real shame........I wonder what it would cost to only manufacture the 600 series stuff?

Funny I was flipping through this just this morning. Not that funny since I peruse it all the time. A wonderful book of an amazing collection.


Bummer! I like to take a 54 print, 55 neg and two TXP320 negs of a scene. That way I get the instant feedback and a choice of negatives.
Still — there's Fuji with FP100C and FP1000 — hope they work with my Polaroid film cassette.

My first camera was a Polaroid Land camera. You know, one of those foldable affairs with a fixed focal length lens, a rangefinder-like viewfinder, and bellows. If I recall accurately, you focused the camera by pushing levers on the left and right with your index fingers (to expand/contract the bellows). I wish I still had that camera.

Back in the 90's my wife gave me a Polaroid photo printer for Christmas. It looked like an external hard drive and connected to the computer via USB. Load the Polaroid film pack, send a photo to it and eventually (but no time soon) an instant photo would emerge. It was kind of slick, actually, although hardly high-fidelity.

Mike: You treated Polaroid film as precious because it really was a damned expensive film! In fact, it still is. That's what killed the brand long before digital photography arrived. Polaroid could never find a way to sell consumers on their value concept, which was always just that: a concept.

When I was learning to use a 4x5 view camera a few years back, our instructor talked about resisting the impulse to burn through too many sheets of Polaroid film. His advice was to say "Three dollars!" every time we pulled one out of the film holder as a reminder.

I dearly wish they could've scaled down, or at least spun off the film branch of the company to someone willing to keep it alive. There are art photographers who love Polaroid sheet film, and it's a fun way to use old large-format gear without the hassle of processing 4x5 in tanks. Hopefully they'll license the technology.

The article states that they'll "focus on flat-panel TVs and digital photography gear". Which probably means that they'll just be slapping their name on the same boring OEM products that everyone else sells. I suppose it was inevitable, but I'm skeptical about this survival strategy.

I think the most likely company to pick up the Polaroid rights would be 3M; much of what they do involves putting a coating on some substrate (about every substrate you can think of, with coatings of everything from sand to adhesive to film.) They could do this without blinking.

The problem is, most of the Polaroid products were tiny niche things, marketed either to photo enthusiasts, or to people who were just stuck in the Polaroid era. Why should the average guy go to all the trouble of expensive film where you can take (and delete) hundreds of shots on one digital card, look at them on the photo monitor or your TV, and then take them to WalMart and instantly get prints for pennies each?

My feeling is that perhaps the most viable product would be the instant slide film. Projected digital quality is terrible compared to color slides, and there are no signs that it's going to get much better, anytime soon. There are all kinds of places where color slides are much, much better -- academic meetings, in particular. But color slide film gets harder and harder to find, and processing can take forever (available to many people only by mail.) So there might be a wider-market opportunity here, beyond just the photo enthusiast, for people who need high-res projectable photos.


This is really sad news.. I still shoot 600 film and I will definitely miss it..

Polaroid was an American success story. (Was.) The annual meeting of Polaroid stockholders was the MacWorld of its day: Edwin Land was always there to present the next amazing product, to the delight of his adoring audience.

Today our thinking is often framed by notions like "value concept". The one-time success of Polaroid, however, was based upon "value add", to use a current term. And that value was, in short, magic.

As a youngster, every Polaroid picture being timed until the moment it was pulled out of the door in the back of camera was imbued with magic. Ditto the later iterations that developed before your very eyes.

It may be premature to write the final story of the history of this former American business icon. I hope there are some surprises left for this entity that currently lives on as a brand name only.

Whatever the future holds, the magic of the Polaroid Land Camera will not soon be forgotten. And when I recall it, I find myself smiling...

This is really bad news for me, I use polaroid 4x5 back as a preview for my pinhole camera. Without it I'm blind and the results are more random. I guess I have to run to the nearest photo store and buy all the stock of polaroid instant film that they have.

Type 55PN was a great item in the bag of a location pro for years and of course the demise of Polaroid follows the progress and change that has followed photography over the years. Fuji could be too big to take on the franchise but someone like Ilford would be interesting?

There is existing a strong damend for Instant films on outside areas, especially Asia and China... But Polaorid/Petters Group just want to make money.

Perhaps the Polaroid Instant Camera, an American Proud Culture will be Austria Culture.

Dr Edwin Land /Polaroid create the America Culture. Mr Tom Petters/Petters Goup kill the culture.

A proud America Culture is die...A great photograph skill is die on Feb 8th 2008.

Photography History will record the day.

Ditto what Ken said about the price. I was always scared to use Polaroids without having a very good reason to, since taking a photo felt like inserting money into the paper shredder!

I thought I had submitted a comment earlier, i'll try again.

BUMMER, serious one.

Of all of the announcements regarding the demise of traditional products, this one is by far the worst. I still use polaroid on a regular basis and it scares me. I feel like I took a lover for granted. Type 55 is one of my fav portrait films, very special stuff.

I do, really, hope someone picks up the professional film. As I am due to retire from real work, I was looking forward to resuming LF photography. Type 55 P/N was one of my favourites and I have sold heaps of images using that fabulous film.
It was expensive, but when you left a remote location, you knew what you had!

The art community will feel the loss greatly, polaroid is a favourite of art students....... pushing and pulling the emulsion when wet, the deep and vibrant colours that could be obtained etc.
It suited the dark angels and the popular advertising cultures......and mum and dad were not strangers as well

I worked with polaroid a while back. Nice stuff a beautiful effects. What can be done with it can be seen on such sites as polarama or SX-70 a site from brazil. Great inspiration. S. Cousin was so kind to let me contribute to polarama. And actually he has a section now to be launched about the integral Polaroid in the digital age. But Polaroid maybe already gave the answer to that question.
Hope shutting down facilities will not immediately affect the use of the SX-70 cameras. At least they can be converted to accept the newer film type.

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