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Remember, you don't actually need to shake it like a Polaroid.
October 13, 2009 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Exact details are still forthcoming, but the impossible project announced that Polaroid is preparing to re-launch some of their iconic instant cameras and TIP will be manufacturing the film, at Polaroid's request. No doubt this will increase the ranks of their cult-like following, but will this second coming reverse what turned into a money-losing tech in our new digital age?
posted by revmitcz (40 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh. My. Gosh.

I really hope this is really really real, as I know scores of people (luddites?) - heck, folks on MeFi - who would be thrilled about this re-launch.

Here's hoping it's a reality!
posted by cavalier at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2009


Money-losing my eye. Nostalgia has its place in the market. Auto manufacturers have only touched on this in recent years, but should exploit it fully. And kudos to Polaroid for doing so.
posted by grubi at 11:59 AM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nostalgia notwithstanding, there must be a practical use for instant printed photography, outside of "hey, that's really cool".

...even though I can't think of one right now. Surely there must be.
posted by Mwongozi at 12:02 PM on October 13, 2009


I know a shit load of people who pay a shit load of money for polaroid film, so I suspect there will be some sort of market for this.
posted by chunking express at 12:03 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hipsters?
posted by fuq at 12:04 PM on October 13, 2009


I threw that "money-losing" line in at the end because, according to that last link, Polaroid had stopped producing instant film some 18-24 months prior and no one noticed. The supply was abundant, given the marketplace.
posted by revmitcz at 12:16 PM on October 13, 2009


Why the hell hasn't anybody built a digital camera with a small printer attached? They could shape it just like my old One Step. Even better if the print came out formatted like an SX-70 print, complete with bad colors and excessive graininess. The Faux-a-roid, they could call it.

I know it wouldn't have the same nostalgia of real Polaroid film, but it would offer the same "instant fun at a party" factor that Polaroids were known for in the day. Plus it would have added features like instant copies, zoom, and a USB interface.

As a child of a Polaroid employee, I grew up thinking there was no other kind of camera but the instant kind. As I got older (and inherited a box of faded, cracked, blurry and bent family photos) I've grown to hate Polaroid pictures, though I do have fond memories of watching instant prints develop and impressing my friends who all had non-instant Kodak cameras.

*click* Dgzzzzzzzz dzzz dzzz.
posted by bondcliff at 12:18 PM on October 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


God, I loved Polaroid cameras. It was like magic. The photo, not the camera.

My dad's #1 product was Polaroid film. Too bad the second coming is about twenty years too late to save his business :(
posted by variella at 12:24 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


@bondcliff: Polaroid makes a digital camera / printer combination: The PoGo.
posted by TurkishGolds at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


there must be a practical use for instant printed photography, outside of "hey, that's really cool".


It's still useful for on-set continuity, although most people are doing that digitally now.
posted by dersins at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Polaroid already made a small printer: PoGo, back in 2008, and then the PoGo Instant Digital Camera in early 2009. It prints 2 x 3-inch borderless color images in a minute.

On preview: ditto TurkishGolds
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nostalgia notwithstanding, there must be a practical use for instant printed photography, outside of "hey, that's really cool".
...even though I can't think of one right now. Surely there must be.


Television and movie set continuity.
On preview, what dersins said, including that digital photography can work fine nowadays anyway.
posted by zoinks at 12:37 PM on October 13, 2009


I'd love to see the business plans for this. I know some people really like Polaroid, but is it enough to make this viable? I mean, I buy vinyl, so maybe I have no grounds to talk, but this seems kind of misguided on its face. The main difference, it seems to me, is that Polaroid requires a continual commitment of money to something (the snapshot) which has become essentially free. At least with vinyl, if you aren't downloading all your music for free (and many aren't), you are paying for the music no matter what the format. Buying Polaroid is more than just a commitment to a medium, it's a commitment to pay for something you would not otherwise have to purchase. That's why I'm interested in the actual data.
posted by OmieWise at 12:39 PM on October 13, 2009


I really hope they offer me some cheap film for my old mid-80's polaroid.

BTW - part of the fun in polaroid pictures is fucking with them as they develop. Wave them around, give them air, scratch around the center of focus with a key ... its an interactive experience!
posted by mannequito at 12:46 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


... outside of "hey, that's really cool".

It's not cool. It's cooler than cool. It's ice cold!
posted by Kabanos at 12:48 PM on October 13, 2009


It seems less than originally thought. TIP purchased and hopes to operate a Polaroid film production plant. Polaroid has agreed to a limited run of a camera. Since the one-shot was probably their most popular model and TIP needs to let everyone know that their new film will be available It seems more like a publicity stunt than a real re-launch.
posted by Gungho at 12:48 PM on October 13, 2009


Is film for the SX-70 going to be made again??
posted by spock at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2009


I could totally see conspiracy theorists becoming a major market for this. Think about it: What's more plausible? A chip in a digital camera that covertly gives all your images to the NSA, or a chip in a film camera that doesn't need developing? The Fotomat doesn't even get to see your pictures.

With some targeted advertising on the Glenn Beck Show (which is dirt cheap these days), Polaroid could make a comeback.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2009


There are companies making film and making money, even if Kodak isn't. If they don't have 100-year-old buildings to maintain and can source the chemicals at reasonable prices there's no reason why TIP can't be one of them. Considering it's a boutique product for a niche market they can price it to be profitable and there's no competition. The only real question is whether than can actually replicate the film using different chemistry. It not only has to work as photographic film but it has to look and act like the product it's replacing.
posted by tommasz at 1:17 PM on October 13, 2009


Creepy men everywhere are so in favor of this.
posted by elder18 at 1:20 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alas, no Type 59.

Type 59 and Type 669 (you may know them as the "peel-apart" kind) are the only options for the image transfer process.

I started hoarding Type 59 when they announced its cancellation.
posted by phliar at 1:34 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


In related news:

"Dec. 31, 2010 is the last day of scheduled processing of Kodachrome at Dwayne’s Photo, the last photo lab in the world to still process the world’s first color slide film."

The Kodochrome Project.

"Mama don't take my Kodachrome away...." Sorry, Paul.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really cool idea for anyone who is getting married...a friend of mine last weekend had a polaroid with a ton of film for people to take their own photos in lieu of a typical guestbook, and then a girl compiled all of them into an album. That will be a nice extra dose of nostalgia for them in the future.
posted by jaybol at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2009


Chemical photography has a physicality to it that is could still be perceived as valuable. <layman> And it is harder to forge a physical photograph, and the forgery would carry more evidence of tampering. </layman> The Make Magazine crown could love this, as might kids with an experimental bent.

The problem isn't that there is no market for Poloroid cameras, it's that it's not mass-market anymore. They should instead go after hobbyists and kids. A digital photograph is one thing and is great, yes, but an instant photo, coming from a device with no computer parts at all, is still quite cool.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem isn't that there is no market for Polaroid cameras, it's that it's not mass-market anymore. They should instead go after hobbyists and kids.

Exactly, JHarris. Probably the perfect people to sell the damn things would be (and I say this genuinely and without snark, no matter how contemptuous I may feel about them) this wannabe-hipster retailer.
posted by dersins at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2009


I saw some guy from Kodak speak and whenever their film sales peaked, maybe sometime in the 90s, they were selling something like $12 billion a year worth of film. Now they sell very little. Plenty to be a viable small company, but devastating for a large multinational.
posted by snofoam at 2:52 PM on October 13, 2009


Other polaroid uses: I know people who use them to evaluate different composition and framing shots for preliminary sketches and final paintings (and to reconstitute them later), which would work with digital photography, but it's a lot quicker with a polaroid); others use them to get their kids excited about and into photography. One of my favorite restaurants would take pictures of their customers, and have their customers sign/add a message to them on the framing white and post them on the wall. It was very cool to sit and look at the pictures while waiting for your meal.
posted by julen at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2009


I believe lots of Directors of Photography have used Polaroids for checking lighting setups when shooting on film. Back in the day people worked out all kinds of workarounds to make the Polaroid camera approximate the film stock they were using.
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 3:32 PM on October 13, 2009


dersins, there is also the lomographic society, which sells busted soviet cameras at a serious-ass premium. They've since branched out into Holgas, toy cameras, etc.
posted by chunking express at 3:34 PM on October 13, 2009


Nostalgia notwithstanding, there must be a practical use for instant printed photography, outside of "hey, that's really cool".

Passport photos. Ten times faster and way more reliable to use Polaroids than take a picture with a digital camera, load it onto a PC and then wait for it to print, find the printer is running low on ink or the head has clogged and the picture has lines all through it.
posted by Talez at 3:46 PM on October 13, 2009


Nostalgia notwithstanding, there must be a practical use for instant printed photography, outside of "hey, that's really cool".
Well, they're more compact than carrying a digital camera and a cord and a laptop and a portable printer around. I've been at events where polaroids were used to make an on-site "you should be able to recognize these people" board.
posted by Karmakaze at 4:25 PM on October 13, 2009


there must be a practical use for instant printed photography

Participatory design and user studies for user research, change management, or education.

Digital is fine but isn't immediate. We used to be able to grab the photos, pin them to the wall, and do sorts and get reactions right there. Could group them and re-group them without having to fumble with the technology or take a whole tech dog-n-pony show onsite or on a plane. The throwaway Polaroids (One Shots or something?) where thumbnail photos were produced like little Post-It notes that would stick to a wall? These were great to give to users where their was a risk of cameras getting lost, damaged or taken. If a camera ended up not coming back to us? Big deal, I think they cost $12 or something. I could never distribute digitals to end-users with the risk that they may not come back. And giving disposable film cameras to users are a whole different problem. (Getting film developed is a hassle. User taking the picture doesn't have the instant feedback to check that the photo that was taken represents what they had in mind.)

I miss Polaroids.
posted by jeanmari at 5:06 PM on October 13, 2009


No. No, it won't.
posted by chairface at 6:54 PM on October 13, 2009


Polaroid had stopped producing instant film some 18-24 months prior and no one noticed.

Well, this certainly isn't true, but I'm sure few who weren't still routinely taking Polaroid pictures noticed, and why would they? There's obviously a huge difference between a large corporation with a virtual (though not total) lock on a particular technology and an avid hobbyist/artist/nostalgia market, but there's no reason the latter can't support a modest production of the most iconic film pack. Instant film will never be a mainstream technology again but this is true of lots of things that are still in some sort of production. Hell, you can still buy mimeograph supplies. I'd bet there will be a sufficient market for this for a good long time.
posted by nanojath at 7:38 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Last fall I met a really friendly artist in Union Square who worked mainly with Polaroids. He had some kind of process for making prints on paper from the photograph, and they came out beautifully. He told me about having to hoard what little film he could get his hands on, and he was seriously mourning the loss of a technique you could tell he was just getting tricky with.

I'm gonna go ahead and picture his happy relief while I sip my coffee this morning.
posted by lauranesson at 10:03 PM on October 13, 2009


fuji still produces and sells instant film packs that are Polaroid compatible. The market is not dead, just affected by digital.

Now here is the time for my little rant concerning "those who still shoot film" as if they are ordering pizzas using a telegraph, and damn shouldn't you get coolness credit for doing so. Digital technology for professional and consumer use is basically 10 years old. Give it another 20-30 years, and let me know if you are still sporting that Russian toy camera around.

I hope you are, btw, but still.
posted by captainsohler at 10:10 PM on October 13, 2009


Film is a medium for taking photographs with, just like digital media. I don't think one is going to replace the other. Sometimes you want to shoot a photo with a Polaroid because it will make your picture look better. Or you want to use pushed Tri-X. Or whatever. And it's silly to pretend you can duplicate anything and everything with some serious-ass photochoping.
posted by chunking express at 6:39 AM on October 14, 2009


I mean, people still make Daguerreotype.
posted by chunking express at 6:41 AM on October 14, 2009


F'n' A!

(said the man with 2 SX/70s in the basement as well as a number of Land Cameras, 1 Swinger and a Spectra Pro with a broken latch. I'm ready baby!!)
posted by djrock3k at 8:01 AM on October 14, 2009


fuji still produces and sells instant film packs that are Polaroid compatible. The market is not dead, just affected by digital.

Sort of - they're compatible with certain Polaroid models, but not the 600, which is the one most people think of as "Polaroid," are most likely to have sitting in the back of a closet, etc. Tellingly, it's SX-70 and 600 film the Impossible Project is planning on making, SX-70 basically being an earlier variant of 600.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2009


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