Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Impossible Project -new- PX 680 Film

The Impossible Project just celebrated their first year in business, and with that - a recent beta testing is under way of their new PX 680 color film. This color film is rated ASA 600 for all the 600 series Polaroid cameras languishing in closets all across the globe. 

I've had a Polaroid One Step Flash since the early '90s and I've been eagerly anticipating a replacement to the Polaroid 600 film.  Old stock of Polaroid 600 film can still be found on eBay, but I've been buying old stock Softtone Spectra film from The Impossible Project to help fund their quest to reverse engineer all types of Polaroid film.

I purchased a couple of packs of the PX 70 Color Shade First Flush film and got shooting with my trusty 600 camera.  I have to be honest, I was disappointed in the results.  I was hoping for the same rich colors I'd gotten with old Polaroid film, and the film from TIP wasn't quite there yet. The colors were washed out, and regardless of which camera I used (SX-70 or the 600 camera) I just didn't see the saturation of color I remembered.

The old stock Polaroid film was very contrasty and the colors were very rich and vivid. Of course when the film was freely available on store shelves, it was usually out of my price range.  I only have a few shots from all the years it was being made - I couldn't afford to buy it nearly as often as I'd like. The best series of pictures came from a trip to Mardi Gras back in 1992.

Well, all that changed today.  My shipment of the PX 680 film arrived on March 31st, but I waited to crack it open until today.  I took my 600 camera to the local Central Market grocery store. They have a great produce section full of all kinds of vibrant colors just waiting to be used for test shots.

Perhaps Saturday wasn't the best idea for this, but in any case I was able to use up the whole pack of film. I will say that the pictures develop very slowly. I'd guess that they take at least 2 minutes to completely develop. I used the 600 camera on the middle exposure setting, and all these pictures were taken indoors under grocery store lighting with the camera's flash. I shielded them from the store lighting after shooting the picture, then put them in my purse to develop while I moved on to the next subject.

The PX 680 film worked well for saturated oranges and reds. The yellows were a bit washed out, and the dark purples of the potatoes turned out a lot darker than they actually were.

The carrots looked great all lined up and tightly bound in purple rubber bands. The picture turned out a bit dark. For the next pack of film I shoot indoors, I might try moving the exposure bar over to the "light" setting so the pictures come out a bit brighter.

Overall, I think my favorite picture is of the rhubarb and radishes. The difference in the reds and purples in the bunch of radishes is noticeable, and the rhubarb is a bit out of focus. I like it.

I wanted to take a picture of the roses in the the floral section, but the lady working there told me that Central Market doesn't allow photography in the floral section, or any other section of the store for that matter. I can't imagine why. What do they care if someone snaps a picture of their plums? So as I was leaving the store I used my last shot in the garden section. Pink flowers.

I'm looking forward to the next release of PX 680 film - it is much, much closer to the Polaroid 600 film I remember. This is a remarkable accomplishment from the crew at The Impossible Project. In only a year they've been able to reverse engineer color instant film for one of the most common instant cameras ever made.


  1. Most retail stores ban photography because, prior to ubiquitous mobile Internet & online presences, stores would send competitive shoppers around to note prices, product quality, etc. Photography, and even note taking, is often banned as a method of trying to make life hard on your competition.

    Anyhow, thanks for writing this up! I, too, think that they're getting good at this, and hopefully the next release will be even richer colors. Blacker blacks alone would help immensely, too.

  2. I agree that blacker blacks would help. I took some outdoor pictures recently and they look much better than the indoor (even well lit) flash photography. I uploaded them to my flickr page so you can see them large size. I tried my best to scan them in and tweak the colors on my monitor to match how they look to my eyes.

  3. I just wanted to drop a quick Kudos for the Dennis Wilson cd in the background of the camera photo. Thumbs up!

  4. I was wondering if anyone would notice that :-) It's a great album!