View Full Version : What type of Polaroid film to check exposure with?

8-Jan-2006, 23:30
I am new to large format photography and I will be using Fuji Velvia and Provia a lot for landscape work. I like the idea of checking my exposure using Polaroid film but I do not know what kind to buy. Any suggestions? Also, how do I use the Polaroid film? What is a good resource on that subject? Does the Polaroid film have to sit in the holder a while after being exposed before it can be taken out and viewed? If so, how long does it have to stay?


Paul Moshay
9-Jan-2006, 00:52
Chris, Use Type 54 and follow the directions in the box. Paul

Dan V
9-Jan-2006, 06:59
Type 54 works well for my outdoor photography purposes. After exposing, the polaroid is removed from the holder by lowering a lever on the holder that breaks the chemical packet and develops the film. After waiting the appropriate processing time depending on ambient temperature, the film envelope is pealed back revealing the print - which does not require chemical coating.

steve simmons
9-Jan-2006, 07:19
If you are new to large format may I suggest some reading

Using the View Camera that I wrote

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone.

Check your library or Amazon.com

Also, there are several free articles on the View Camera magazine web site


and the click on Free Articles

Type 54 is the best although checking exposure with Polaroid is not something I recommend. You will still have to learn to use a meter and then calibrate the difference between the Polaroid and the real film. Use the Polaroid for awhile but then graduate to just the meter.

steve simmons (www.viewcamera.com)

Ed Richards
9-Jan-2006, 07:41
I used Polaroid to get started. There is some value to using it as an exposure test to figure out how to meter correctly, but it is even better as a check on your focus and composition. The instant feedback will let you get up to speed very quickly on the basic use of the camera. My recommendation is to shoot at least 100 sheets, more if you can afford it, just trying to get everything right before you shoot any film. Remember, a Polaroid is a contact print and a viable piece of art on its own.

Ralph Barker
9-Jan-2006, 08:28
I prefer Type 54 for testing, as well.

While Polaroid is a great learning aid early on in one's LF experience, its value to experienced photographers shouldn't be discounted. Polaroids can (obviously) be used to confirm metered exposure as well as composition. As a former magazine editor, I think of Polaroid confirmation shots as being parallel to a final proof reading of something I've written or edited. It never hurts to check again.

steve simmons
9-Jan-2006, 08:56
The Polaroid holder - 545 or newer - will also work for the pre-loaded films from Kodak and Fuji so it functions as an all purpose pre-loaded film holder.

steve simmons

9-Jan-2006, 21:26
Thanks for all the help. I bought an older metal 545 film holder so now I will go and order some type 54 film. How important is it that I know what the ambient temperature is? Should I go buy a thermometer?

Alex Hawley
9-Jan-2006, 21:54
I agree with Ralph and Steve's advice. I shyed away from polaroid when I started LF, primarily because of the cost factor. Now I use it quite a bit. For outdoors work with the 8x10, I use it to check tone, contrast and exposure. If the available light isn't giving me what I want, I know right away and can adjust accordingly, or wait for different lighting. Indoors, its invaluable for confirming exposure especially when the bellows is extended. I also use it to test out ideas; ideas in composition and lighting, before I commit them to a negative.

Type 54 is great for all the above. I've also come to like Type 55 positive/negative for 4x5 work. Its a nice change to get the negatives without the usual darkroom developing session. It's slow, asa 25 for the neg, but it has become my primary 4x5 film unless I really need a high film speed.

Ralph Barker
10-Jan-2006, 07:30
Alex - I think you touched on an excellent point - the Polaroid cost factor.

While a bit pricey (particularly in 8x10), LF Polaroids provide a good "return on investment" once we shift our cost thinking to a broader view. The few dollars represented by the Polaroid usually pales in comparison to the expense of "getting there" - either with a field trip or in assembling a more commercial shoot. Thus, the insurance of knowing the shot is "nailed" is well-worth the cost of the Polaroid. As with other "tools", the value depends on how the individual uses the tool to their advantage.