Recently we all experienced the death of a legend; the discontinuation of Kodachrome film. Several years ago we also witnessed as Polaroid decided to stop creating their trademark instant film. As many loyal Polaroid users know, this wasn't the final nail in the coffin. Alas, The Impossible Project saved the day! Producing instant film for Polaroid cameras in a reclaimed Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, The Impossible Project has made the trademark film available once again. With monochrome and color film for Polaroid, a once closed chapter in photography has been opened again. Such serendipity! Or so we are led to believe...
I recently got my hands on both the PX100 monochromatic and PX 70 Color Shade Push films from The Impossible Project. The film packs are similar to the Polaroids of yore, albeit with some flashy upgrades. The dark-slide is no longer a thing of pure necessity and has been adorned with clever quips and artwork. The film itself also differs from what you may remember. All films from The Impossible Project are light sensitive, and must be immediately protected from any light exposure once ejected from the camera. This is a bit difficult since the cameras themselves aren't the most ergonomic design. The PX100 is even more burdensome as it is also sensitive to colder temperatures. When shooting in colder weather you not only have to consider shielding your photo from light, but also keep it warm enough to expose correctly. If not, you may be left with a completely white image. These peculiarities aside, I gave them a go.
My initial response to the film is rather tepid. The film requires your attention to be in several different places at once. Not only do you have to frame your shot, but also hold the camera in such a way that you are able to release the shutter button as well as cover the photo as it is being ejected. Not an easy task, albeit I have only had a few opportunities to improve my technique. Instructions are available on The Impossible Project's website for light protectors that are easily made and attached to the front end of a Polaroid. If you are like me and are reluctant to shoot with a makeshift snoot on the front end of your camera; you are left between a rock and a hard place Moreover, there are persisting problems that The Impossible Project faces regarding "sticky packs" and low batteries. During shipping there is often settling and sticking together of the film. The problem is easily fixed by simply tapping the pack of film as you would a pack of cigarettes against your hand, releasing the film from one another and allowing them to release easily when ejected. However, when coupled with the problem of low batteries, there is no solution and you are left with an unusable pack of film. I learned this the hard way, fumbling and tapping the pack on just about any hard surface I could find; finally realizing that the pack just wasn't going to work. The Impossible Project understand that this has been a recurring and persistent problem with their product, and do offer customer support. I will soon find out the extent of their support.
After struggling with the PX100 film I popped in my pack of PX 70 Color Shade film, fingers crossed that this pack would work. Hark! My first somewhat successful photo on Impossible Project film. Although it isn't the easiest film to use, it is essentially the most affordable (at around $3.00 an exposure no less) Polaroid film available. If I could get my hands on a $20 pack of Time Zero, I would. Until that day comes, The Impossible Project will satisfy the desire for instant Polaroid pleasure.