Polaroid stops making film

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Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:45 pm

I'm glad that I didn't buy a Polaroid film back for my Arax. Polaroid stopped making film cameras a few months ago and now it stopped making the instant film that it is famous for. I saw this coming but honestly didn't think it would happen so soon. It's a pity. One could do very creative things with Polaroid film. Sad I think that the instant, Polaroid-compatible, films from Fuji will still be produced.

Link to source.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:21 pm

Excuse my language but... FUCK ME.

I have a ton of Polaroids that take all kinds of film. That's too bad, I'm going to miss them.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:59 pm

The prices for Polaroid films are already quite high. They'll probably sky-rocket once word gets out that there won't be anymore produced.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:26 pm

Yah, it's a lot cheaper across the river but is still expensive.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by crowellphotographs on Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:34 pm

I've been abscent lately (family health issues)

But this post has shaken me to the core. Are they discontinuing all film? even the type 54 and type 55 films for 4x5 cameras? Those are as essential to many high end professionals as their light meters. Especially for commercial photography. Clients that require that format of photography also usually require lighting accuracy from the whole frame.
Even for personal work, i'm slightly screwed. Type 55 polaroid gives the absolute best negative on the planet. There's no BW film better. (An opinion shared by almost the entire industry)

CRAP!!!!!
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:19 pm

I don't know. From the reaction I've seen on the internet, there are lots of people that are very upset. Type 55 being missed often comes up in the conversations. Perhaps a company like Adox can pick up Polaroid's tooling and continue to manufacture Polaroid film. It seems like most news agencies and even Polaroid itself are kind of dismissing the importance of this development but for professionals like yourself, this is huge. Polaroid is really quiet about this. There are no press releases relating to this development on their website. It kind of mirrors what happened when they discontinued the SX70 film that has a cult following. No news for a while then a small blurb on the SX70 film page about it being discontinued and a link to a document on how to use alternative pack film on a SX70 camera.

On the photography front, Polaroid seems to be concentrating on digitals and a new ink-less printer technology. They are supposed to come out with a very portable, ink-less printer for use with digital cameras. It seems that they are more interested in making crappy LCD televisions and other electronics, being satisfied placing themselves on the lower-end of the market.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Chako on Sat Feb 09, 2008 1:38 pm

Hmmm. I can remember back in the 70s when everyone had a Polaroid instant camera. Sorry to hear the bad news.

I knew it was just time. They never fully recovered from their bankruptcy and change of hands.

I found this eulogy of sorts featuring a bunch of Polaroid commercials. Many of them I remember when they aired on TV. I will post a link for those who may enjoy seeing them again.

A Heartfelt, YouTube-Based Wake for Polaroid Instant Photography
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:48 pm

I would kill to find some SX-70 film cheap. I bought 4 packs of expired SX-70 from Camera Craft about 2 years ago for 1/2 price.

Now my SX-70 Alpha 1 just sits alone and sad.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:41 am

Here's the New York Times article about this:
link

According to this article, Polaroid claims to have produced enough instant film to last until 2009. Polaroid is willing to license the technology to firms wanting to produce the instant film beyond 2009.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Chako on Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:22 am

Well that is good news. Maybe someone else will pick up the mantle and run with it.

Come to think of it, there always seem to be a few holdouts dealing with old/discontinued film formats.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:58 am

I don't see anybody else doing it, the cost is just too large.

The only possibility is Fujifilm, who make their own instant film already.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:41 pm

I can visualize production in China. Film use is booming there and it will soon be the world's largest market for photographic film. I can also see a company catering to niche markets like Adox Fotowerke also taking it over but supplying the huge number of pros and fine-art photographers that use Polaroid could be too much for a such a small outfit. I think we can forget about Ilford as they are in a financial mess themselves.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Chako on Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:16 pm

Ilford is in trouble? Now that is something I didn't know. I used mostly Illford papers, and chemicals when I had a darkroom.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:48 pm

Around 3 or 4 years ago, Ilford went into receivership. It happened about the time that I first got seriously into photography and it was all over the photography press. Then there was a management buyout and formation of a new company called Harman that continues to use the Ilford name. Then a part of the company based in Switzerland was sold to a Japanese paper maker that also retained the Ilford name. I think that the Harman products go by the name Ilford Photo while the Swiss products go by the name Ilford Imaging or something like that. It seems that Harman/Ilford has recovered somewhat but I don't think that it is quite healthy yet.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Chako on Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:59 pm

Lovely.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:33 pm

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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:27 pm

Well it's on the CBC's website, but it's an AP article. Same on was on CNN, etc etc etc.

Still a good read, though. Anyone know of anyone in town who still uses Polaroids? Professional or otherwise?
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by crowellphotographs on Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:07 pm

Yup.... I do.
Almost all of my BWs are from 4x5 type 55 polaroid film. SAD SAD SAD DAY.
I'm really begining to believe that this is the start of the "digital dilution" of the quality of photography.
I was chatting with some old colleagues from Ottawa. They're having a memorial service for polaroid.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Fri Feb 15, 2008 9:16 pm

If Polaroid was still in the film business, I would probably get me an SX70 and experiment with image manipulation on the SX70 film. I find the SX70 camera itself quite an interesting piece of gear. It is too bad that Polaroid film is sensitive to long-term storage. Type55 stores well in refrigerators I hear but other films seem to be very volatile after the expiry date. I know of people who stocked up freezers full of Kodachrome, Velvia 50, etc. when those great films were discontinued (but now they're back!).

I think that there is enough of a market to keep Polaroid films in productions and to make money from them. There's enough of a market for Lomo LCA's for the rip-off artists at the Lomographic Society to charge $250-680 for them depending on the accessories package. I think that the company itself missed the boat when it came to the new lo-fi photography craze. People were adapting Polaroid backs made for Hassies and other good MF cameras to fit Holgas for crying out loud. Polaroid could have done something there.

Personally, I'm not going to be pointing the finger at digital on this one. I suspect that a big part of the problem is Polaroid's owner. It is an investment firm called The Petters Group. If you look at recent literature from this company it does talk about the Polaroid brand a lot but there is rarely any mention of Polaroid film - just Polaroid DVD players, LCD TV's, LCD frames and other electronic things. Polaroid doesn't even manufacturer any of this stuff, Petters just licenses the Polaroid name to manufacturers that want to sell their Chinese-made wares in the West under a brand name that is already recognized. I can see exactly what The Petters Group want to do. Stop production and sell license the Polaroid technology or even just the brand name to other manufacturers. This is what they know how to do best and at a side benefit they wouldn't have to worry about all the other costly things that go along with manufacturing in the United States - like employee medical coverage. On the other hand, the people behind Kodak, Fuji and Ilford have deep roots in photography and they do have the fire in the belly so to speak. Would Kodak and Fuji bring Kodachrome 64 and Velvia 50, respectfully, back from the dead if they didn't have the fire in the belly?

Perhaps if somebody wrote a hit song about type55, it might help. Smile

I think that the digital dilution goes much further than just the technical quality of a photograph - if that is what you are referring to. Products that use digital technologies, by nature, are usually more adept to satisfying our current culture of mass consumption and instant gratification. This culture really is the underlying problem - not the digital medium itself. With all due respect, Polaroid did a lot to foster these types of ideals in the consumer photography market and isn't it ironic now, that it is the very same ideals that are the main attraction to the digital consumer cameras that are being blamed for Polaroid's downfall. Many people complain about being scammed into buying cheap printers that use up a lot of expensive ink cartridges. Well that money-making scheme is not new. Polaroid made really cheap cameras that used up lots of expensive film... With consumer 600 pack film, for example, it costs like $80 for 50 exposures. That nuts compared to the cost of 35mm consumer film with processing at local lab. I always felt that Polaroid was a bit of a scam-artist in the consumer market. However, as harsh as that my sound, I do wish that Polaroid film was around so I could play with it.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by crowellphotographs on Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:41 am

I have to say that I don't see how digital can't be blamed for this. Just because McDonalds promotes a new feature burger every month, doesn't mean that they don't have "fire in their bellies" about selling big macs and fries. It's called expansion or diversification. I believe that, knowing film was not as stable a market, they had no choice but to delve into other channels.
As for digital dilution going farther than "just the technical quality of a photograph"(which is what I am talking about)
I don't see there being any more important issue. Especially on a photography forum discussing with photographers. What could be more important?
Digital is still a LONG LONG LONG way away from matching the tonal ranges of film. Especially at the consumer level. To even come close,(which is still light years away)to the quality of film, one needs a 45,000$ digital camera that will be obsolete within 2-3 years. Blads have barely dropped in price over the last 40 years. On the second hand market they have probably gone up.(inflation)

I could go on for pages, quoting events and formats that have led us to the sad state that we're in. All in all, we've been sold out. SAD
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Sun Feb 17, 2008 3:07 pm

I do believe that the onslaught of digital did play huge part, of course. However, I feel that there is still a viable market for Polaroid instant film - perhaps not a strong consumer market but the pros and fine-art photographers obviously use it and there are industrial applications as mentioned in the AP article above. The fact is that since Polaroid went bankrupt, it has evolved from a film manufacturer to a brand name. The Petters Group is only interested in the brand name - they sold Polaroid's manufacturing operations to Flextronics (known for manufacturing Micro$oft hardware - x-Box, Zune, etc.) two years ago and they are probably now in the process of shutting down manufacturing that couldn't be sold off. Kodak and Fuji, on the other hand, is are still film manufacturers at heart. Despite income generated from digital technologies now surpassing income generated by film at Kodak, for example, in 2007 Kodak updated their excellent Portra films twice, updated their consumer "MAX" films, and brought back Kodachrome 64.

As for the digital dilution of photography, in terms of technical quality of a photograph, yes I'm in total agreement with you except for one thing - that there is no more important issue. Speaking on just the technical side of a photograph, I feel that the subject is ultimately more important than anything else. I have only two digital cameras - one on my cell phone and the other is a Canon SD1000 that I won (otherwise I would have never bought it). I'm a film junkie but will admit that digital has a place in photography. I would like to have a full-frame digital Leica M rangefinder just for cost savings in practising and training my eye.

In the grand scheme of things, I feel that the move to digital (and not just in photography) will have some serious repercussions. There will be problems with long-term storage of images - coming from a computer science background, I have no doubt about that one. Reliable digital storage has been a problem that we've been struggling with for over 40 years and its not going to be suddenly solved just because millions of people are now using digital cameras. Reliable digital storage requires constant maintenance and updating, which means $$$$$ will have to be spent by the photographer/consumer and $$$$$ is to be made not by solving the problems of digital storage but by capitalizing on its deficiencies. Images stored on film will last. Even when stored in shoe boxes and completely forgotten about, they have a very good chance of surviving. I feel that people are very much being duped into believing that digital is a lot less expensive than film - the reality is that it may or may not be depending on the application. For anything that is important enough that I would like it to last for future generations, I would want it on film - not only will it last but it will also be much cheaper. Colin, if I were to get married and I hired you to shoot my wedding, I would insist on film.

Another big problem I see is waste. Not wasted photo opportunities due to chimping but real waste. I often get asked by photographers who prefer digital why does it matters to me that my Leicas have lasted a long time and will still be around (and working) long after I'm dead. I usually respond by saying that their digital cameras will still be around a long time after they're gone too. Their batteries and battery chargers will also be around long after they're gone. So will the flash cards, optical discs and hard drives that they use to store their images. The difference is that their digital cameras and all others hardware associated with them will be in landfill sites while my Leicas will be in the hands of photographers doing exactly what they were made to do.

Photographer Chris Jordan is doing excellent work documenting what he calls the "slow-motion apocalypse in progress".
http://wmarc001.bcst.yahoo.com/yahoo/chrisjordan.mov

Colin, you nailed it when you said that we've all been sold out. That is so true and indeed very sad but I don't believe that the fat lady has sung just yet.

Edit: added underline


Last edited by Nando on Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:45 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by crowellphotographs on Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:18 pm

I guess I don't know the entire inner workings of the Polaroid company, but I know economics and business. No company on earth would stop offering a product if it were a money maker. Once their accountants calculate the annual report, it's pretty cut and dry. "Sir(or Ma'am), we lost 11 million on film last year and 22 million this year. Oh, ya... and we haven't sold a polaroid camera in 3 years. What do you think we should do?"

This isn't the first victim that has been openly blamed on the digital revolution.(And i'm only talking photography, since this is a photography forum) I remember going thru this with my second favorite film and 1# paper companies, Ilford and AGFA. If memory serves me right, they where bought out, only because of the ease of production of their products(relatively speaking) despite huge debts that came with the purchase of the company.
You could produce HUGE sheets of printing paper and film in a small time because it wasn't really that hard of a process. Where as, Polaroid film is a crazy manufacturing process. There's the individual wrapping, the chemical pouches, the substrate, some sheets have metal pieces. So even if someone where to buy the rights to the film itself, the start up and maintenance would be incredible. And there's only a hand full of us using it anyway since everyone is using digital. And why wouldn't the average person. Humm.... over a dollar a shot for polaroid, or free for a digital shot... what should I do?

As for what is the most important issue, I'm slightly shocked to see such an experienced photographer not give credit to the technical quality of the equipment he was using. Especially with how many posts I have read from you about equipment quality.
Your argument that "the subject is ultimately more important than anything else." has nothing to do with film/digital, polaroid or not. The subject is obviously the reason we take a photo. The technical quality of the equipment we use determines how accurately we can capture that subject, how well we can highlight that subject and it's surroundings to control the tonal relationship. If what you are saying is true, than why bother buying a camera at all. We could all just build pinhole cameras and save a truckload of money. You'll still capture the subject. Even within a digital only environment, are you saying that you wouldn't care if digital camera companies decided to go back to the old 2 megapixel chips from 8 years ago?

I could even go as far as saying that with digital technology you couldn't even capture the subject you would have been able to with film. What about a photo with a bright sky and snow on the ground with your subject in moderate shade.
Digital doesn't have the capabilities to capture such a wide exposure range. (Within limits) Film could. So the technical quality of the equipment has now just cost you the ability to photograph a great subject.

Obviously subject matter is what makes an image, but I bet you I could make any subject look better with even 35mm film than with 27mm digital. Even without discussing tonal range, it's just a matter of a smaller format and lens presence. It's a well known fact that the bigger the format the better the image. As for tonal range, I have one name... ANSEL ADAMS. (Yes I know, he's very main stream.) I can, without a doubt say that those images would not be possible with digital technology. Even if you where able to match the format size.(for less than 150,000$) Same subject matter though.

I'm not sure why you have chosen to discount my comments. You may not agree, but this is not exclusively my opinion. The entire professional industry agrees. I have no problems with someone having a varying opinion from my own, but if you are going to go as far as to discount my opinion to further your own, please do so with relevant fact and not just for argument sake.
I assure you that I do not just shoot my mouth off about this subject. It's my profession, not my hobby. All of my experience and education has been about the technical aspects of photography. In the professional market, that's what counts. I can assure you that if you blow out a whole image except for the subject, your client will not be as understanding of your comment that "the subject makes the image." That's why they pay for a professional. Anyone can shoot an interesting subject if it's right in front of their face, it's technical knowledge and quality equipment that allow you the control over the entire frame.
So, YES, the fact that film may be fazed out before digital is able to evolve to that quality level (and within similar price range), is the most important aspect of modern photography.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:08 pm

Colin,

I have no idea where you got the impression that I was discounting your opinion to further my own. I thought that we were on the same page on most things. I pointed out that technical quality, although very important, to me it is is not the most important thing about a photograph. For me it is subject matter. "Technical quality" in terms of things like tonality is largely dictated by format, isn't it? Well I would argue that the subject matter dictates the format used. So where does that leave "technical quality"? You said "that my argument that the subject is ultimately more important than anything else has nothing to do with film/digital, polaroid or not". So I think you half-got my point.

You said that it is "a well known fact that the bigger the format the better the image".... and then, of course, a mention of Ansel Adams. With a nod of respect to Adams for his technical abilities as well as his teaching abilities, his photographs do not do it for me at all. The majority of photographers that I admire (HCB, Koudelka, Salgado, Rodchenko, Towell, Hurn, etc.), use 35mm format because its the most suitable format for the type of photographs they take. Although their prints, from a technical standpoint, are much inferior to those of Ansel Adams and his proteges like Ron Sexton , the images move me much more. Heck, the photographs of Mark Sink speak to me more than those of Ansel Adams and Sink used plastic, toy cameras.

Yes, I'm not a "pro" and although vast majority of photographers that I admire would be labelled "pros", I currently have no desire to become one myself. With all due respect, thank you for reminding me why.
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by crowellphotographs on Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:19 pm

I don't see how you are surprised at my response.
I start by labeling polaroid another victim of digital, and that there is serious risk of lowering the quality of photography, you respond by correcting me. Not digital's fault, technical quality not so important.
I feel that if no one tells digital photographers about the value of film, it will only disappear that much faster.
I write about polaroid's position and how crucial this problem is to the immediate future. Once again you correct my statements about polaroid, semi agree with the technical standard, but quickly teach me a lesson, stating that subject is more important.
As I wrote in my last post, Yes, subject matter is ultimately more important, but not at all relevant to a discussion about how film is probably on the outs, only to be replaced by a far inferior suitor. Subject matter is ultimately what compels us to pop the shutter. From that moment of inspiration, the quality of your equipment takes over.
You've even made some small argument about my choice of photographer to demonstrate what will never be possible again without film. If Ansel's subject matter doesn't float your boat, than I can stay with Salgado. Awesome photog, (and as I'm sure you're aware) more socially important that his images be displayed. They would definitely not be possible with digital. Many of the shots inside dark "huts"(not sure of the proper name) lit by ambient light.

I guess that's where my frustration comes from. The only point I had, and still am trying to make is that Digital will limit what can be done. And debatably, had it been the only option over the last 100 years, would have caused many of the photos and photographers that are celebrated today to have never existed.
That's sad.

I bring up the pro aspect because, even if most don't need the higher exposure ranges offered by film, pros rely on it. I see it as telling experienced race car drivers that they can now not exceed 160km/h because of new engines. Most citizens wouldn't care, they don't need that speed. But to the race industry and to race car drivers, everything changes. (Maybe not the best analogy, but hopefully it gets the point across)

CP
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Re: Polaroid stops making film

Post by Nando on Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:09 pm

Colin,

I think we had a bad misunderstanding and for that I apologize for my part. I didn't to make it seem that onslaught of digital photography wasn't a major cause of Polaroid's demise. Yes, it probably was THE cause but The Petters Group were the ones to pull the cord. I suggested that there were also other factors at play within this particular company - in particular, I thought that the nature of the company that took Polaroid over was a key factor in this sudden and abrupt surrender.

Why do I feel this way? Because, Leica, went through a very similar situation as Polaroid yet they survived. Yes, they lease their brand name like crazy but they are still making M-rangefinder along with outstanding lenses and even developed a digital rangefinder. And this is despite only making about the same amount of money as a just few Walmart stores. Why? I primarily believe that it is because the people who run Leica are passionate and care about their products, their customers and their workers. The rangefinder market has now grown healthier than it has ever been in the last 20 years and I'm so thankful that Leica is still around.

I honestly think that the Petter's Group that owns Polaroid doesn't really care about anything but $$$$ and took the easy way out. I do not dispute that digital photography would eventually kill Polaroid but the Petter's Group threw in the towel way too soon in my opinion.

Kodak and Fuji have certainly adapted to the change much better. Kodak, especially, is among the major players when it comes to research and development of digital technologies in photography. Many things I've read about Polaroid lends me to believe the company has actually been in trouble since the 1980's when it found itself competing against 1-hour photolabs. The digital revolution just made it a whole lot worse.

Regards,
Fernando

Edit: due to terrible spelling
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