They say no news is good news.
Unfortunately, Polaroid has news: after next year, there won’t be any more Polaroid film.
Since our beloved Polaroid camera only has a year to live, we’ve decided to make it the Best Year Ever.
Let’s shake it!
p.s. Our “Monday Stinks!” contest runs until tomorrow: three winners a day will get tasty coffee! Enter here.
p.p.s. Congratulations to Betsy, Lisa and “Maui Pikake” for winning the Thrillist Stupid Photo Contest!
Learn The Basics
Here’s the skinny on Polaroid film. There are 3 basic kinds: instant, medium format and large format.
Instant (600, Time-Zero) is the kind you use in SX-70s and the standard drugstore-variety Polaroid cameras. 600 film is the only type that Polaroid is still manufacturing. Everything else is kaput.
Medium format (88, 669, etc.) is used in special backs for medium format cameras like Hasselblads or Holgas (no seriously, Holgas). There are 2 different sizes and lots of color/B&W varieties. There’s even a sepia-toned version of Type 80 known as “Chocolate.” Yum.
Large format (54, 71, etc.) is for the huge crazy old-fashioned cameras with accordion bellows and darkcloths. Type 55 makes a print and a negative. Hardcore.
Stock Up On Film
We’re hoping this is just a bad dream and we’ll wake up any minute. But in case it isn’t, we’re stocking up on film.
Polaroid has a list of available film on their website, with a handy counter of how much is left in stock. You can put it in the fridge to keep it fresh, but the freezer isn’t recommended. Just bring it back to room temperature before using it.
Polaroid is no longer selling instant cameras, but you can still get them through Amazon and other retailers. Have a look at Unsaleable as well: they have Polaroid goodies you just can’t get anywhere else. And of course, there’s always eBay!
Get A Camera
The SX-70 is our camera of choice. Sleek Seventies styling, speedy snapshots: stunning.
They’re always showing up on eBay, but who knows what to look for when buying one? Georg Holderied Salvisberg, that’s who. He has a whole website devoted to the joys of the SX-70.
SX-70s can use the still-available 600 film, but you have to modify them a little bit. Add a neutral density filter, adjust the exposure a bit, and cut off the little plastic nubs on the film pack. Easier than it sounds, trust us. Of course, if you don’t feel like messing with it, Unsaleable sells film specifically for the SX-70.
You’ve got your film. You’ve got your ultra-stylish camera. What should you take pictures of?
There are a bazillion Polaroid groups on Flickr. You can get inspiration from any of them, but we particularly like the self-portrait project. Also check out Heather Champ’s amazing panoramas made from side-by-side Polaroids.
Film Pack Stand
When you’re out shooting, don’t throw away your empty packs of film: they make handy frames. Just slide your photos back in and stand them up! (Or use the holes in the back to hang them on the wall.)
Another cool trick: slap a stamp on the back of a picture, scribble an address and use it as a postcard. We’re sending ours to our Postcrossing pals.
Or how about this: Cut out the people in your photo with an x-acto knife, and fold them forward to make pop-up pictures! Neat-o.
At your next party, take down the bathroom mirror and hang a Polaroid on the wall instead. We guarantee you’ll have awesome pictures of all your friends.
After the film’s gone, get yourself a Polaroid-shaped mirror and recall the good old days.
Want to see what other people have been taking pictures of?
Polanoid is trying to amass the largest collections of Polaroids in the world. After you look around the archives, you can add yours to the bunch.
FOUND Magazine has a new book of Polaroids they’ve found lying around. There are some strange and wonderful things in there.
There are some amazing artists using Polaroid at the moment. Our latest faves are Grant Hamilton’s street photos and Patrick Winfield’s Hockney-esque composites.
Don’t go gentle into that good night. Kick and scream, people!
There are petitions going around asking Polaroid to keep making film. Tell Polaroid you love them. (Or tell Fuji to pick up the slack and make more Polaroid substitutes.)
There are lots and lots of you out there that love Polaroid film- let them know there’s still a market for it!
There’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
Fuji will still make medium and large format instant film that works in many existing Polaroid backs.
Fuji also makes its own version of the instant camera, the Instax. The rectangular-format film comes in two different sizes. There’s also a next-generation instant printer, the Pivi, that is currently only available in Japan and (you guessed it) at Unsaleable.
If all else fails, the Polaroid-O-Nizer will take any existing digital picture and format it to look like a Polaroid.
Chin up, folks. It might be the end of an era, or it could be a whole new beginning…