This appears to be the last nail in the coffin of the "NO THUMB ZONE." Even if instant film survives, that fat-part of the pull-out type Polaroid film pouches where thumbs were prohibited will pass on as only a memory... I'll miss the NTZ...but on to the new stuff...
I just bought a pack of Fuji FP-100 B45 black & white 100 ASA, 4x5 instant "pack film" at Samy's in Santa Barbara. I set up my Cambowide (1/60, f22, 65mm) and shot a sheet of Polaroid 54 (Pro 100) from my dwindling stash (out of date, 2008) and then a sheet of the FujiFilm B45. I'm using an ancient Polaroid 550 holder (Fuji's PA-45 Holder is still being made)
The Fuji and Polaroid seem to both be within a fraction of a stop of 100ASA maybe 1/10 faster for Fuji (closer than most films from two different manufacturers). (I metered with a 'DigiRoid' – which means I shoot the scene on my Nikon D300 at 100 ISO, and look at the Histogram.) The Fuji seems a little more contrasty, and the Fuji smells completely different when pulled, so it's not identical in chemical makeup, also the gray print backing is a different shade, but seems to be the same thickness. Same recommended processing time/temps though. The midtone exposure around 18% seems the same, and the dark shadow detail seems the same as well. The white on the Fuji seems brighter and that's where I perceived the higher contrast. (This could also be a factor of the 2008 expiration date of my P54.)
The image on the Fuji B45 print is slightly larger than the 54 Polaroid because the borders are slightly thinner on the Fuji. The exact image size is 4 21/32 inches Wide X 3 17/32 inches High for the Fuji (vs. exactly 4.5 X 3.5 inches for the Polaroid). Virtually the same height but over 1/8" wider for the Fuji. The box is printed completely in English, not Multi-Lingual so this seems to be the official "Export" packaging, although the foil pack inside is still multi-lingual. That doesn't make a bit of difference to me but you might want to know...
At $4.00 a sheet I will now only be using it to check the first exposures of the day, and make sure everything is working when I take the camera out of the case. But I won't be using it to check every exposure like I did with 54 Polaroid when it was plentiful.
I did realize that the "10 pack" film format will save a little space in my case since I don't need to store the Polaroid holder AND a bunch of separate sheets of 54 (which I kept in a separate Tupperware box). The 550 holder holds the 10 pack safe inside and takes virtually the same space in the case than my old 545 Polaroid holder alone ( Polaroid 550 is shorter but thicker). And the film inside the 550 holder is protected from kinking, folding, and getting squeezed in the "No Thumb Zone."
My 2 cents so far, I'll miss the NTZ, but the Fuji will work for me, but I sure hope the price comes down a bit from $40+ per pack. Anyone want to buy a 545 holder, it makes a great doorstop.