View Full Version : What's the deal with instant film?

Uri A
9-Sep-2009, 07:06
OK, so for a couple of years I kinda resigned myself to never again shooting another type 55, or any more glorious 665s. Now I'm getting back into LF photography and can't help wondering...

WHY is it impossible for SOME company out there to produce an item for which people are lining up, forming fanclubs, signing petitions, buying 5 y.o. out-of-date stock from across the planet on eBay. Is every single factory in China and Rumania dedicated to producing plastic toys for McDonalds to insert into our Happy Meals?

There is a website http://www.the-impossible-project.com/ which details the purchase of the entire Polaroid factory by a Dutch consortium who hope to start manufacturing again:

(Quoting from the website)
Impossible b.v. has been founded with the concrete aim to re-invent and re-start production of analog INTEGRAL FILM for vintage Polaroid cameras ... Therefore Impossible b.v. has acquired the complete film production equipment in Enschede (NL) from Polaroid, has signed a 10-year lease agreement on the factory building; and has engaged the most experienced team of Integral Film experts worldwide.

etc, etc ... BUT they also say that they they have only 12 months (that's when they run out of money) to come up with a new formula for the films, since "some of the essential, original components ... are not available any more"

1. What are the essential, unavailable components (which Fuji seems to still be able to access)
2. Is it truly financially unviable for someone (i.e. Fuji) to continue to make LF and/or BW instant film for which there is maybe a niche, but a very stable and willing-to-pay-thru-the-nose niche market?

In the words of Pauline Hanson: "please explain".

Uri A
9-Sep-2009, 07:19
BTW: I have partially answered by own first question, by rummaging around the site some more.. here seems to be the challenge:

"We urgently need Latex that can easily be coated on gelatin base. Thickness of the dried layer is about 2 micron. The developer used in instant film is a viscous solution, containing 2N alkaline."

Anyone out there know how to help these crazy kids?

9-Sep-2009, 07:53
the long term problem with the Impossible Project is that it is being run by the same marketing people who are from "Lomography". If you are unfamiliar with Lomography what they do is sell cheap plastic cameras made in China for a very high premium, and they are now moving into the world of film.

A good example is that they now sell a back for one of their cameras that uses Fuji Instax Mini film. At B&H you can buy a twin pack of the film and get 20 shots under the Fuji brand name for $14.95, but if you buy the same exact film under the Lomography brand name it costs $13.95 and you only get 10 shots. So the Lomography film costs 2x the price

9-Sep-2009, 08:42
Is there something wrong with Fuji peel-apart films?

9-Sep-2009, 10:53
Remember that "The Impossible Project" is devoted to integral films, first developed for the SX-70, NOT for peel-apart films.

Fuji makes peel-apart instant films that are similar in approach to the more conventional traditional Polaroid products.

Type 55 is apparently a special case. The film itself (as I read in another thread) was Panatomic-X, which was a product of Kodak, now no longer made except maybe as a highly specialized product. At ISO32, it had a different film speed than did the positive material, but no matter. It was a little inconvenient in the field, in that you had to take along a plastic clearing tank which used a smelly chemical that left white deposits on every surface on which it spilled and dried. The range of the film was narrower than most sheet films used in large format.

But it seems to me just made for modern large-format photographers who use digital darkrooms. I would buy it now if it was reasonably available, just for that reason. It would be a way to have large-format negatives of good quality without setting up a darkroom (or having the hours needed to work in the darkroom). I think it would be useful to a larger percentage of 4x5 photographers now than it was when the common practice was to own a true darkroom. When I was in architecture school (a very long time ago), I used it in the school's Linhof Kardan view camera that I borrowed for a project. I did not have the darkroom access at the time and the Type 55 was the perfect solution.

Fuji absolutely possesses the technical knowhow to make this product again, and they could do so in their current 4x5 pack-film packaging. The clearing tank is molded-plastic and cheap, and so is the chemical. But the question is whether they see a sufficient market for doing so.

Rick "who uses the current Fujiroid color film a lot" Denney

9-Sep-2009, 11:56
I just shot my first FujiRoid film in the 4X5 polaroid converstion. I was cool! I remember my dad doing the peel apart Polaroid when I was young. Never made it to the XS-70 generaton. I have read out there in web space that you can clean the black backing off the negavie, and then have something to scan other than the photo itself .... will be expermenting over the weekend. Try google for Fuji FP-100 and bleach.


D. Bryant
9-Sep-2009, 13:52
It was a little inconvenient in the field, in that you had to take along a plastic clearing tank

There were work arounds for that.

1) Develop the film after returning to the darkroom.


2) Place the negative(s) wrapped in paper towels saturated with water and stored in a sealed plastic container. As long as every thing remained hydrated the gel - goo wouldn't dry.

I still don't see a PN55 replacement coming back or if on the long shot it does what it would cost. IOW, there is no way that I'll pay $4 or $5 per shot, which is about what the closing cost of PN55 was when it went belly up.

Don Bryant

9-Sep-2009, 15:16
IOW, there is no way that I'll pay $4 or $5 per shot, which is about what the closing cost of PN55 was when it went belly up.

That's about the price of Velvia Quickloads and 4x5 Fujiroid (either color or black and white), so I guess I would pay that. I don't make that many images, which is one reason I can't justify a chemical darkroom--that would cost much more per image at my current usage. Back when I had a darkroom, I poured a lot of chemical down the drain that had died of old age rather than being used up. And that was even after a had gone as much as possible to one-shot chemicals mixed in small batches.

Even regular Ilford sheet film is pushing a dollar a shot just for the film.

Rick "whose time is more limited and more precious by far than the cost of the film" Denney

Nathan Potter
9-Sep-2009, 19:12
I confess! Looks like I may operate a bit like Rick. I'm very fussy about the LF images I take now and have found that as time goes by I'm getting even fussier. My last photo excursion was 7000 miles and produced a meager 70 4X5 images. I spent about 240 hours actually looking for the 70.

So each image cost me 100 miles of gas $ 15.00 and 3.4 hours of my time at $25.00 per hour so $85.00 per image. Grand total of $100.00 per image not counting film - which at $5.00 per sheet of quickload is negligible. Hell I think I'd pay $20.00 for a quickload or Type 55 and be a happy camper.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Robert Hughes
10-Sep-2009, 08:17
Grand total of $100.00 per image not counting film...
Heck, at that rate you could hire a sherpa to load and handle your film for you - Maybe one of Frank P's models would do. They could model, too!