polaroid

Suggestion for New55

I made this comment somewhere on the New55 blog, but it went unpublished. Could be from the lack of interest, could be it just ended in spam due to including a URL. I'm not going to chase it. As I had it copied to my notes, I'm going to publish it here. Here it goes:

Maybe it would make sense for you to offer a service like this (scroll to the Online Exposure section if the link doesn't open from there). What they do is that you can send them digital files, they make a Polaroid picture out of it and mail to you.

In your case people would send you their digital files too and you would make a New55 exposure of it, together with negative and positive, already fixed. This way you could:

* Add another (small, but possibly relevant - you sell T-shirts after all) source of revenue.

* Test your own film and let others pay for it :)

* Most importantly - attract more people to try the film. There're probably many people (including myself) who would like to see and handle the actual result, but don't have everything that's necessary to expose the film (from 4x5 camera to the specific Ilford fixer).

In your case you could add a good scan of the negative to the service. In addition you can always ask permission to publish the pictures on social media - the exposure will certainly be good for you and probably for the photographers too.

In case of SuperSense (who do the same for Polaroid) the exposure is made from iPad screen limiting the maximum resolution to 2048x1536px, but this, of course can be improved. It's probably not relevant for Polaroid, because of the low native resolution, but would certainly be good for New55. Why I'm so interested in this is because I'd like to have some silver gelatin prints made out of the negatives later and maybe, just maybe - if I'm happy with the results - try to sell some prints this way.

Should I Shoot Polaroid?

A short introduction - I'm very interested in shooting native black and white 4x5 medium without the hassle of darkroom. The words are carefully chosen: native BW means no conversion from color, native 4x5 means no cropping. Some of my ideas and experiences with instant film are covered in previous post about polaroid.

I brought out several reasons why I like instant film in my previous post linked above. Just to sum it up:

It teaches you to slow down, do things once and do them good.

It teaches you a very laconic pictorial language.

So, I thought I'll shoot some more instant film. The following is an analysis of various options and constraints related to it.

Firstly - I don't like square format which means  I need to shoot what is called Image/Spectra film, which is almost 4x5. This also restricts the camera makes and models available.

I'd prefer the better contrast of Impossible 2.0 version film, but 2.0 film is not available in Image/Spectra format (at least yet, but I hope it will). This is the first contradiction - choose better contrast and bad format or bad contrast and preferred format. Here's how the looks differs from original to 2.0 film.

I'd like to have more detail, meaning I'd need to shoot bigger format. Impossible makes 8x10 instant film (!), but - of course there is but - it costs a lot and needs separate 800$ development machine in addition to 8x10 camera (which sets a lot of preconditions itself). I'm unable to make that sort of financial commitment right now. There's still problem with output - there would only be originals, they're more detailed and scannable, but would anybody buy a digital print of scanned polaroid?

I want to have the prints (I truly like them), but I don't want them to be the only output. I want to make enlargements and hang my pictures on the wall. There is a solution - called peel-apart film or PN film (as is positive+negative) that produces both negative and positive instantly.

Black and white peel-apart instant film is made by New55 project which has it's own problems - their film is not ready yet, they're seemingly out of money to finalize and start mass-producing it, and although they claim to sell some film already, they're out of stock whenever I check their website. Not to mention steep prices.

Fuji makes PN film too, but they discontinued their black and white film in 2013. Bummer. They do still make color film, but I'm not into color.

Long story short, I have three options:

  1. Buy Polaroid Spectra camera, shoot Impossible Image/Spectra film with bad contrast and no way to use the outcome in any way. At least it's financially affordable.
  2. Invest into 8x10, use Impossible 8x10 instant film. The investment is huge and I'm not entirely sure I'll still be shooting instant film 2-3 years from now.
  3. Keep my fingers crossed that New55 makes it.

So I'm left with only bad options. But then - as instant film needs positive temperatures to develop and we, here in Estonia, are almost out of positive temperatures for the next 7 months, I have around half a year buffer to see if anything of the equation above has changed and take a better decision by then.

PS: Did I mention New55 still needs a fixer bath? So much of "instant" there.