I carry a Polaroid camera with me most days, and this is, hands-down, everyone’s favorite conversation-starter. The short answer is… it depends.

Briefly: Over the decades, Polaroid used nine* principal film formats, and although the company no longer makes any film, other manufacturers have picked up production for four of those. Fortunately, they are the ones for which secondhand cameras are extremely plentiful, so if you want to start shooting, you can get going without spending much money on equipment. The films still available are:

“Pack film.” This is the kind with a paper tab that is yanked out the side of the camera to begin development, then peeled apart to reveal the print a minute or so later. It’s made by Fujifilm, in black-and-white (FP-3000B) and color (FP-100C). You can’t buy it in your neighborhood drugstore anymore, but if you still have a decent camera shop around, it’s likely to stock it. If not, you can order from Adorama or B&H in New York City, as well as many other online dealers.  (No endorsement implied for either of those, though I will say that I get most of mine from Adorama, which slightly underprices most competitors.) The black-and-white version is ISO 3000, so you can shoot it in a fairly dim room with no flash. I love this stuff.

SX-70 and 600 film. This is the stuff with the wide white border most of us think of when we think “Polaroid.” When it went out of production in 2008, a small group of enthusiasts bought Polaroid’s last operating factory, in the Netherlands, and spent a year attempting to reconstitute the recipe. They couldn’t duplicate Polaroid’s chemistry, for lots of reasons (environmental restrictions, suppliers that were simply gone, an ingredient whose factory had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina), and had to start practically from scratch. They call themselves The Impossible Project, with good reason, and the resultant film is an evolving product, one that requires some special care and fussing. Among other things, you have to keep it shielded from light for the first couple of minutes after it ejects from the camera—otherwise it will be fogged and overexposed. Each batch of film gets a little better, and there’s a general feeling among Polaroidians that in a year or so, it’ll be much more like Polaroid’s own film was. You’ll hear much more about The Impossible Project (often called TIP) on this blog in the coming months.

•Spectra film. Similar to 600, but wider in format, it was introduced in 1986, and was extremely popular with commercial Polaroid users: police evidence departments, automobile insurance adjusters, modeling agencies, movie-set continuity checkers. It too is being made by Impossible, in the same Dutch factory.

See the “Instant Photography Today” portion of this site for the basics, and Instant Options for much more.

*There are actually more than nine, when you count large-format materials made for professional photographers and special cameras. Much more about those in future posts.

6 Responses to “Can you still get film for that thing?”

  1. Rj Lenz says:

    What about REPAIRING these cameras? I have a pristine SX 70 with a stuck focus wheel- What does one do? Rj Lenz

  2. John Driscoll says:

    Thank you!

  3. John Driscoll says:

    So I can not get film for my Polaroid Automatic 210 Land Camera?

    Thank you, Jack

    • admin says:

      Sorry–your comment got caught in my moderation filter.

      Type 100 film for the 210 was just discontinued a few months ago, and is still available through some dealers. Fuji FP-100C is what you need. Grab while you can.

      • John Driscoll says:

        Could you tell me where I can get it and how much does it cost?

        • admin says:

          Best price is at either B&H (bhphotovideo.com) or Adorama (adorama.com) Price fluctuates somewhat, because it’s getting scarce, but as of today it’s $19.99 per ten-picture pack.

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