navigating the impossible project almost lives up to its name

Okay wow, there are a lot of different kinds of Polaroid film. I guess I knew that, but the 600 series was the kind that was made for pretty much my entire life, and they all shot the same kind of film, so I sort of thought of Polaroid film as being homogenous, even though I knew intellectually that wasn’t the case.

The Impossible Project makes more than a half dozen types of Polaroid film, some of which I’d never even heard of (“Zink”?). And it’s hard sorting out which cameras you stuff which film into, because TIP doesn’t give you a comprehensive list. They want you to buy the (ludicrously overpriced, IMO) cameras they sell, so they only tell you which cameras that they sell that are compatible with each kind of film.

But thanks to flickr Polaroid groups, Camerapedia.org, and crippling insomnia, I think I have it sorted.

Silver Shade is integral film for the 600 series, which is what my generation thinks of when we think of Polaroid. They started producing them in the early ’80s and the final evolution of the line was the Polaroid One.

TIP also makes Silver Shade for the SX-70, Polaroid’s first SLR and integral film camera. Also for the SX-70 is a weird film called Fade To Black, that goes through a bunch of color shifts before (yup you guessed it) becoming solid black after about 24 hours. Neat concept, but ultimately kind of a waste of $$$.

The Chocolate, Blue, and Sepia films are Type 100, a pack or “peel apart” film that goes into the old bellows-style Land Cameras. It seemed kind of weird to me that they would even make this film, but I guess pack film is easier to manufacture than integral film, or it wouldn’t have been invented first. And amazingly, these old cameras are still quite commonly found on auction sites in good condition, so I’m putting a 250 or 350 on my wish list.

I went ahead and bought a Super Shooter, because I found one in great condition on Etsy for only $19.99, and I was afraid someone would beat me to it. TIP makes one type of film for this camera, in Chocolate; but it also shoots Fujifilm FP-100, which is still being produced.

So whenever I get some more buxx coming in, I’m going shopping for a Land Camera and possibly a 600 One. Although if TIP has plans to make Silver Shade in Type 100, I might not bother getting a 600. Although although, it might be fun to have one for nostalgia’s sake. Although (3), that may be a color that can only be produced in integral film, not pack, in which case I could always wait for/hope that TIP releases it for the Polaroid Mio. I know Mio owners can shoot Fuji Mini Instax, so it stands to reason that the opposite should be true.

So many variables!

ETA: Reading the specs of the Super Shooter a little more closely, I think it can actually shoot both Type 80 (square) and Type 100 (rectangular) film. It looks like Polaroid made very few models of pack film cameras that wouldn’t shoot both. Basically, if a camera could shoot Type 100, it could shoot Type 80, because a square can fit into a rectangle. Cameras that were designed to only shoot Type 80 (ie. the Square Shooter) couldn’t shoot Type 100, because a square is smaller than a rectangle.

So long story short, it looks like I can shoot the tinted Type 100 film with my Super Shooter, in addition to normally colored Fujifilm FP-100. In which case, the Polaroid 250 will go onto my Cameras That I Would Like To One Day Own list and off my Cameras I Must Own Immediately list.

ETA (again): A little more research into TIP’s integral film leads me to believe that it’s not worth the money to buy any right now. It’s nowhere near to perfection — extreme light and temperature sensitivity, images fading or speckling, crystals forming in the photo — and probably shouldn’t even have been released. I guess it’s basically like a beta test for instant film, but it sounds like it’s giving TIP a bad reputation.

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