I want to say something up-front, I love PolaroidOriginals, I appreciate that they let me use my SX70 cameras, full stop. Please feel my love.
(we are all hostages)
As I say over over and over again, I have admired the SX70 from day one, and have been a user since 1979 aproximately: the SX70 was awesome, the film was awesome, fast and stable. Then one day, for whatever reason we stopped using it, might be digital, might be stuff that happens in your life. And as often happens, when things you took for granted suddenly dissapear you miss them: I remember when I started using the ImpossibleProject material (I think from a Kickstarter) I thought my camera had a light leak: It was a process, as it turns out you have to shield the film. If you come to think of it, it’s mind blowing that just immediately after exposure the film is out the door. I mean, that WAS light sensitive material less than a second before. For me, and I guess for most people, it was like a contract: we will buy your “artistic” film, because I know I am funding your R&D, new emulsions, colour, faster developing time, better opacifier agent. Also for me it was very transparent, and quite open, I remember the beta packs. Those were amazing and made me feel I was part of the process…
Then ownership in the ImpossibleProject changed, and then planets aligned (or whatever) so the brand Polaroid could replace that of the ImpossibleProject.
Here I could say that I liked the ImpossibleProject better and things like that… but lets see what actually happened:
the original Polaroid was a mighty corporation, and American icon.
the aperance that “Polaroid is back” is created. That is totally false: Polaroid Originals is a mere continuation of the ImpossibleProject efforts.
the operation has to be scaled up for the new “mass-market”
instant photography becomes a “hot market”
PolaroidOriginals starts manufacturing cameras.
Some of my conclusions are:
-Many new “Polaroid is back” users are bound to be disappointed. -Transparency is lost, in the pretension that the experimentation phase is over. I was asked to remove a FB post on the beta 3 film, just before the brand name. -“mojo” is lost (What?? we no longer call it “frog tongue”? c’mon people)
Why Polaroid can never be back
When one of the mightiest corporations in America disappeared it didn’t happen overnight: I mean, they went to chapter 11 not once but twice. Many books relate how Polaroid stopped being the leader and just started to brand someone else’s inventions, like videotape…
The thing is that when Doc Kaps saves the factory in Enschede that per se is hardly enough: think of a car assembly factory, you need many more factories, for the engines, the wheels, the windshields… you get the idea. Many of those factories had been scrapped long ago. Thus they had to start over. Add to that the fact that some chemicals used were banned for environmental reasons and could not be used anymore.
So they had the machinery to put the film together but they had nothing, no negative no nothing… side note: I understand the machinery is very important, but in the case of integral film the chemistry was equally important. But in the case of Packfilm, chemicals/pod seem (still very complex) but simpler. In this case, what is awfully complicated is the machinery to do the complicated origami-like fold of film and negative. That is why the machinery that Fuji scrapped (thank you again Fuji) was so important.
That makes you think that what they did is monumental. It is probably true, that scaling the ImpossibleProject to PolaroidOriginals levels is a major undertaking, but, most of the work is done. It might also be true that ImpossibleProject was not a viable business and something had to happen. I don’t know.
the cameras: StrangerThings
One thing is clear: cameras like the SX70 or SLR680 are never coming back. Period. Even if (hypothetically) they made something similar it would not be the same. Never. Never in a million years.
One is also entitled to think that there are already enough cameras out there.
But all in all I have no trouble with PolaroidOriginals making plastic cameras, as long my original “contract” with ImpossibleProject is fulfilled: most of the money we spend on film goes to further film development.
The StrangerThings disaster happens when you have too many people in marketing and too many lawyers and maybe not enough resources in R&D.
My bottomline is that I will never buy a camera (probably) but it’s ok, I don’t mind. There are plenty “original” cameras around and awesome places that refurbish them.
But if you think of it, and it is hard for me to say this because I really (let’s say strongly disapprove) what Fuji is doing and has done in the past regarding all Polaroid material. I say maybe today it makes more sense to use the readily available cheaper Instax format.
In this regard, one has to admire what MiNT is doing and the resources they are spending in doing an all manual Instax Camera. The RF-70 is awesome, the SLR-670 is awesome. They had my admiration. Many people that say it is too expensive really don’t understand what it takes to take on such an endeavor. It is short of amazing, awesome… monumental. Really. Hats off.
Right now, other that FF and PO MiNT is the major player in the instant photography world. Lets see what happens with Doc’s one-Instant, the efford to save packfilm cameras.
Nowdays everything is social media. I know. I am ok with that.
BUT I think we need FULL DISCLOSURE:
If someone, lets say a photographer, that usually posts in the usual groups, has signed a thick stack of papers conforming an NDA and now de facto works for PolaroidOriginals I think it is only fair that the fact is disclosed. Unfortunately those are the papers that prohibit him disclosing the fact.
It is awesome that they have contacted you, and I hope it is worth your while, but I feel I deserve to know. I feel strongly about this.
The other thing about social media is the name calling. Really, do we need that? Some of the comments I have seen in Ernie Santa Ana posts are totally unnecessary and rude.
But wait, there’s more. The conspiracy theories.
It goes like this: PolaroidOriginals has “two quality standards” and they make “better” film for the I-type cartridges. Or maybe they just choose the better packs for their cameras. This has been outlined almost like that “ It’s our opinion that I-type film packs/chemistry currently have better quality for everyday standard use.” in Matt Widmann words. I myself don’t think that this is the case. `BUT I think we have try to use I-type film and retrofit (at least some of our cameras) to use that film.
Another conspiracy theory might be that PolaroidOriginals is spending less in film R&D, say distracted by camera manufacturing. That might be the case, but It could also be argued that this is a necessary evil to keep the format alive.
Even the thought of anything done today has anything whatsoever to do with what Polaroid was turning out its factories in 1985 is ludicrous.
Reflexions on I-type
I don’t know that I-type is any different that 600 film as of quality. I am not talking about borders and special versions.
I give merit to the idea that maybe, just maybe its not good for the planet to place a battery in every pack, specially now that they have only 8 pictures.
But here’s my thought, if the new material is thicker (for whatever reason, I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t have to be this way) I understand that only 8 pictures fit. BUT… I-type doesn’t have a battery WHY NOT 10 pictures??
PolaroidOriginals I love you, but maybe is the Stockhom syndrome!