Polaroid Reclaimed Blue 600 Film Guide
Review and Shooting Tips6 min read by, with images by
Polaroid Reclaimed Blue 600 film is unlike anything the brand had ever produced. Made from materials destined for a landfill, this special film renders highlights in near-white — unlike the sought-after Duochrome edition films (coloured monochromes) that often look dark and extra-contrasty.
Reclaimed Blue is a modified instant colour emulsion with its cyan, magenta, and yellow layers fully intact (yet altered). It takes the same time to develop as colour*, but it looks like cyanotype art.
As of this writing, this film is sold out everywhere in North America. Curiously, its existence was leaked before the official release date thanks to a mistake made by a European retailer.
In this review, I’ll explain how this film was made, how it works, and give a few tips to the lucky owners for creating better images. And if Polaroid happens to make more in the future, I’ll be sure to update the links.
🚨 Update (May 24, 2023): There are a few packs of Polaroid Reclaimed Blue film available at Moment for US/Canada customers (back-order).
✱ — Reclaimed Blue reveals an image faster than any other Polaroid film but takes longer to fully complete the development. More on that below.
What’s so special about Polaroid Reclaimed Blue 600 film?
Instant film fans marvel at Polaroid Duochrome edition films whenever they become available. Always limited edition, they sell out quickly and due to the nature of Polaroid film, can’t last long past their expiration date — even when stored in a fridge. (Never store your Polaroid film in a freezer!)
Duochrome films are unique in that they limit you to just one colour. This adds a unique, irreplicable look and makes way for new creative avenues.
However, Duochrome films do not have a bright white point and thus often look dark — even when exposed perfectly. This is because they are essentially monochrome emulsions with a dye, and that dye paints over all the print’s highlights with a colour that is necessarily darker than white.
Polaroid Reclaimed Blue, on the other hand, uses “out of spec” colour-negative materials that the company was prepared to discard. However, instead of the usual developer paste stored in the bottom part of each frame (that the camera spreads with its rollers to develop the film), they used black and white developer paste (TBHQ or tertiary butylhydroquinone).
The result is teal-blue Polaroid frames that range from black to blue to near-white. And since the brightest point of this film is much brighter than it would’ve been in a Duochrome, the resulting images are significantly brighter and noticeably more tone-rich.
The only downside to Polaroid Reclaimed Blue frames compared to monochrome-based Duochromes is their development completion times. Whereas Duochromes finish developing as fast as monochrome films (within 10 minutes), Reclaimed Blues take about 15 minutes to get its full spectrum of colours revealed.
Curiously, you’ll see the faint image appear on Reclaimed Blue faster than on any other type of Polaroid film, even if it takes the longest to fully develop.
Polaroid Reclaimed Blue dynamic range and film characteristic curves.
To understand the strengths and limitations of a film, it helps to look at its characteristic curves graph (I’ll explain further below). However, Polaroid does not publish this material, and thus, I decided to run an experiment at home to build the graph on my own.
I then used this graph to determine this film’s dynamic range and see how the print renders colours with the help of a scanner and a few tricks in Photoshop.
The above image is created by exposing a sheet of paper evenly lit by a lamp in a dark room. On that sheet, there are marks that signify a stop of light falloff from left to right. To generate the graph, namely, Polaroid Reclaimed Blue film characteristic curves, I scanned the frame and split it into red, green, and blue channels and then measured colour values at each marked point in the photographed sheet of paper. Those values range from 0 (black) to 255 (white).
➜ Free Download: Polaroid Film Characteristic Curves 1st. Edition (PDF)
Polaroid Reclaimed Blue film exposure guide.
As you can see from this graph, we get roughly the same response from the green and blue; however, the red channel is much weaker while still present at the white point. Also, the white point in Reclaimed Blue isn’t as bright as the frame, it’s light grey.
This experiment and the tests I ran with the film show that exposing Polaroid Reclaimed Blue isn’t as difficult as the regular colour films. The monochrome palette does not create any colour shifts that may happen in over- and under-exposed areas of colour films.
For better results, I strongly recommend picking evenly lit scenes with moderate contrast to accommodate for the limited 4 stops of dynamic range. Same as with any Polaroid film.
I’ve also noticed that under-exposures have some latitude for correction if you scan your film.
When it comes to over-exposures, the image gradually fades into milky-white — which can look pleasant or disappointing if you were expecting to see something there.
Over-exposed areas don’t have as much image information as the shadows, making them practically impossible to restore after scanning.
If you have control over manual settings on your camera, it’s better to err on the side of under-exposure.
For more info on Polaroid colour film development times, sharpness/resolution, frame size, scanning techniques, and safe ways to recycle the packs, follow the links above.
To make the photos you see in this article, I used MiNT Flash Bar II at half-brightness with my unmodified Polaroid SX-70 camera and the backlight exposure technique.
How much does Polaroid Reclaimed Blue cost, and where to buy it.
Reclaimed Blue film is cheaper than any other Polaroid film. But it got sold out a number of times on Polaroid.com and is on backorder at Moment as of this writing. You can use their “Notify Me When Back in Stock” feature to try and snag some once they arrive. I will do my best to update this website if I find more available elsewhere.
❤ By the way: Please consider making your Polaroid Reclaimed Blue 600 film purchase using this link so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!