Film Photography News — September 2023 Recap

Polaroid Mania!

7 min read by Dmitri.
Published on .

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What’s new?

The biggest deal in the world of film photography this month was the Polaroid I-2 release. The new instant camera isn’t cheap — $600. Given its features, I think the price is fair — but I’m saving up for something else. So, instead of rushing to buy a copy, I wrote a whole lot about Polaroid, its breakneck history, and its revolutionary (or oddly useful) products.

And as a part of this month’s self-initiated Polaroid-mania, I’m giving away my mint Polaroid Now I-Type Camera 🎉 (Generation One) to one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter the draw is to post a comment here. The winner will get the camera and a fresh pack of film shipped to their doorstep free of charge.

In the non-instant news, a new film processor is about to launch on Kickstarter; Analog Sparks International Film Photography Awards announced their winners; and applications for the internship are open at the Sustainable Darkroom.

New Polaroid guides and reviews.

During the five years this website has been alive, I published over twenty articles about Polaroid film and cameras. Eight of them went live this month. The latest one I’ve already mentioned above (the giveaway announcement) and the rest I’ll go over with you briefly below, starting with perhaps the best camera of the instant format ever:

Polaroid SX-70 and its advanced design that remains unsurpassed in quality, features, and ergonomics — over fifty years past its release.

I’ve been using mine for about five years; the guide for this camera was up for a while, but this month, I did a complete rewrite. It’s now more concise yet includes more and more accurate info, with the only advanced exposure guide for this camera on the internet.

Oddly enough, as I worked on the above review and everything else Polaroid this month, I kept finding conflicting numbers whenever I searched for instant film dimensions. So, I published a new set that I verified with a calliper. This guide uses consistent numbering and measurement units (SI and Imperial) and has links to sources. All instant films currently in production are listed there (including Polaroid 8x10 and One Instant peel-apart film). I hope some of you will find it helpful in the future — it might be worth a bookmark!

A Brief History of Polaroid is where I spent most of my writing energy. This brand went through its most bizarre and intense period of existence in the early 2000s after decades of outstanding innovation. It sued Kodak, had its name involved in a Ponzi scheme, and almost completely disappeared if not for the persistence and an insane amount of dedication to its products by a team of passionate instant film fans.

Up next: dynamic range is an essential piece of information about film and digital sensors. It tells you how difficult or how easy it would be to meter your exposures and how much contrast to expect in the final results. Unfortunately, Polaroid does not publish this information about their film — so I calculated my own. It takes a lot of film and time to make these, so for now, it’s just three films: 600 Color, SX-70 B&W, and 600 Reclaimed Blue. I will be adding more in the future.

Improving the contrast, sharpness, and ease of scanning for Polaroid 600 film by removing it from its protective envelope (see film review for more).

Those curves reveal something you may have already suspected: Polaroid film is a difficult emulsion to nail: it only has four (+/-½) stops of dynamic range.

Out of the three films I measured, Polaroid 600 Color is the most popular and accessible instant film; it is also reviewed for the first time on this blog this month.

The shorter reads about Nike SB X Polaroid Shoes and Polaroid Photo Boxes make up the rest of the lot. The boxes are highly recommended if you’d like to ensure that your precious instant film doesn’t fade or get scratched in a matter of a few months.

Image courtesy of Vintage Visual.

AGO film processor.

Agitation is the most mysterious aspect of film development for me. It’s not like time or temperature — there’s no number you can place on a good technique.

AGO is a new device meant to simplify this aspect of processing film at home and add a few convenience features. The most impressive of which is automatic temperature compensation, where the tool adjusts its timer and agitation without having you worry about how warm your bath is:

Through extensive research and collaboration with mathematicians, we came up with various algorithms that compensate for time during development, taking into account the different temperatures specified in ilford B&W and various C-41 chemicals datasheets. This breakthrough allows for flexibility, such as a C-41 developer temperature can range from 30 to 38 degrees Celsius (86-100°F).

The AGO film processor project is launching on IndieGoGo tomorrow, priced at 320€ for Earlybird customers.

Sustainable Darkroom internship.

If you’re looking to learn more about film photography and the business or running a darkroom, Sustainable Darkroom (UK) has just opened up applications for an internship position (unpaid).

You can work from anywhere in the world for the duration of 4-6 months, one day a week. The duties include event promotion and support, workshop assistance, research, design, some admin, and team meetings.

If you are interested, drop them an email to sustainabledarkroom [at] gmail [dot] com with a bit of info about who you are, what you do/your experience and why you’d like to help them out, as well as your CV.

Analog Sparks International Film Photography Awards.

Dear photographers! We are delighted to reveal the winners of the first edition of the Analog Sparks 2023 competition. In its first year, Analog Sparks received more than thousand of [sic] outstanding submissions from around the globe in eight Categories — Architecture, Fine Art, Human, Lifestyle, Nature, Photojournalism, Technique, Zines and Photobooks.

A lovely set of images by talented photographers landed in my inbox this month from Analog Sparks. Below are photos of some of the competition winners — you can find the rest of them here.

Latest on Analog.Cafe.

In addition to the Polaroid-related articles I described at length above, I also wrote a photo essay, published a downloadable PDF guide, and wrote a film review.

Oh, and keep an eye on the Comments section of this blog — I’ll be publishing announcements from Lomography and Analogue Wonderland there next week.

Thanks for reading!