When The Impossible Project got started, its focus was on reviving standard-issue integral film for consumer cameras. That was the purpose of the machinery in the Enschede plant, and that was, of course, the stuff most photographers were interested in. The professional-format Polaroid film had been made in Waltham, and the machines that produced it—machines that would be prohibitively expensive to reproduce—were trashed when the plant was shut down. Pola-lore has it that they were shoved off the loading dock and busted up. Ugh.

One machine, though, made it out whole. That was the one that produced 8-by-10-inch film, the largest format that Polaroid sold in photo stores. (It had apparently been squirreled away by some loyalists for just long enough to avoid the Dumpster.) This film was a peel-apart format, processed in a motorized desktop machine. The production equipment made its way to Impossible in the Netherlands, and sat for a couple of years as the factory began to get back up to speed. And last month, Impossible began to offer its first black-and-white 8×10 film for sale. It is a very different product from the old Type 803, though it’s being sold in relabeled 803 boxes; it’s integral film, similar to Impossible’s PX70, and it has some of the limitations of that not-yet-mature product, like less-than-optimal dynamic range and contrast. Also, since it is directly photographed unlike the old peel-apart product, your images come out backwards, like daguerreotypes. But it is awfully nice to see those big sheets of film again, and Impossible’s film will only get better. Also, you don’t have to worry about shielding it, as you do with the smaller formats (because 8×10 sheets are handled in cartridge-like film holders, and thus do not need to develop in the light). Here’s a test photo, made in the lab, that Impossible has been showing off:

Betsy, Polaroid’s old test dummy, appears in a lot of Impossible’s lab photos. She looks Dutch.

Further discussion here, and here’s a link to someone who’s been shooting it. Fifteen frames are $99 to Impossible’s Pioneer-level customers, which is not vastly more than Polaroid used to charge. If you have one of those 8×10 processors, pull it out of the crawl space. Especially because there are also rumblings that New55 may also be able to produce 8×10 film in the peel-apart format—with a matching reusable negative, like the smaller Type 55 had. You may, implausibly, have not one but two new large-format instant films available to you in a year or two, products that Polaroid never got around to offering.

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One Response to The Return of 8×10

  1. […] few weeks back, on July 1, we here in Polaroidland posted about the Impossible Project’s reintroduction of 8×10 instant film. Well, some other newsgathering organization over on Eighth Avenue has finally got around to this […]

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