The Impossible Project film is breathing life back into old Polaroid cameras. Mat Gallagher finds & out whether the results worth waiting for WHEN most of us think of one-off prints, we think of Polaroid. Edward Land developed the process of instant photography for his Polaroid camera in 1948 and revolutionised the medium Instant cameras paved the way for digital photography, but then slowly faded away once digital photography had taken hold. Many professionals used Polaroids as a preview for critical images and many casual snappers would use it as a quick way to view and share images with others. Today, digital cameras meet this need, and while there are still some instant film cameras available, their golden age has passed. The Polaroid brand no longer produces film for its older cameras, but a company called The Impossible Project (www. the-impossible-project.com) has developed new film that is compatible with a range of old Polaroid models, including the 600 and SX-70 This has brought new life to a wide number of cameras, and Polaroid has joined the arty Lomo-types as an alternative way to enjoy photography  POLAROID PRINTSTo test this film I used a Polaroid SX-70, one of the finest Polaroid cameras ever made and the first instant SLR. For the SX-70, the Impossible Project stocks four different films - two colour and two black & white - the newest editions being the Cool versions of each, launched in April. Despite the name, these are claimed to be warm-toned with faster development and more consistent results than previous versions. It is advised to store the films in a fridge (5-10"C), but then allow them to adjust to room temperature for at least an hour before use. I tested both colour and silver (mono) Cool films, as well as the standard Silver Shade. One important difference with the Impossible Project film is that it must be developed in darkness, so when the film first ejects from the camera it needs to be immediately shaded from light. This is more in keeping with the Polaroid film used on larger-format cameras, which had to be peeled apart once developed. The Impossible Project suggests placing the lightproof film box in front of the camera to store the film while it develops, or buying its dark shades These fit into the front of the camera like a tongue to shield the film as it comes out, and are priced I chose to create my own shade using some black card cut to around one-third longer than the film, with two tabs to keep it in place. I fed this through the open slot, as suggested for the branded dark shade From under the dark shade, I transferred the film back into the box for the 4-5mins required for it to develop. Each pack contains just eight frames rather than the 10 on the SX-70 shot counter, so this needs to be remembered. Keeping the films shaded makes the process fiddlier than before, but once you get into a routine it is fairly easy. The original Silver Shade film produces classic-looking mono images with a quality to them that is never quite replicated with digital filter effects. The Cool Silver Shade gives slightly crisper results and more neutral-looking tones, but in many ways I preferred the standard version. The cool-tone Color Shade film is rated at around ISO 350, so the exposure dial needs to be adjusted to achieve accurate results The cool colours are very stylised and appear noisy in the detail, but like the Silver Shade film, it produces a look unmatched by digital filters.

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