Streaky Polaroid 600 Film

Whilst getting some photos developed in my local lab, I bought some Polaroid 600 colour film from them as I was keen to see how the photos would look when taken with my (new to me) vintage Polaroid 600 camera.

This was the first photo I took:

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As you can see the photo has streak marks on it and my initial reaction was that there was possibly something wrong with my camera (since I had bought it in good faith on eBay). I also wondered if it was because it had been taken indoors.

I decided to take some more photos outside:

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Yet again, more streaks! At this point I wondered was it my camera or was it the film? I struggled to believe it was the film because I had bought it recently from a reputable camera shop in Brighton and not on eBay.

I was reluctant to put some more film in the camera in case it was the camera that was the issue so didn’t want to waste another £18.99.

I therefore decided the best thing to do was contact Polaroid Originals and submit copies of these images and ask their opinion on what they thought the issue was.

I was surprised to get such a quick response within 15 minutes of my initial email explaining to me that they thought the film was at fault. They asked me for the serial number of the film (which is on the back at the bottom of each photo) and upon further investigation they confirmed to me that this film was manufactured by them in January 2018 but the reason for the streaks was most likely incorrect storage and the fact the film was several months old.

I’ve read in the past that the new Polaroid film can have issues with developing correctly but as time progresses and further research is carried out by Polaroid Originals, I think the film quality is improving.

I was relieved to know it wasn’t the camera that was the issue so armed with this information I went back to my local shop to let them know in case they still had any of this particular batch of film left. They informed me that it had all since been sold so I pre-warned them that they may get some other customers coming back to them confirming the same issues with the film.

Whilst I don’t doubt that my local cameral shop had stored the film correctly, I can only put the issue down to the fact that we recently had a mini heatwave in Brighton and perhaps the heat had affected the film whilst on their shelf or if refrigerated and only recently put out after the heatwave, perhaps it was just a dodgy batch of film supplied to them (we’ll never know).

I didn’t expect a refund as quite frankly I had used up all the film, plus the owner of the shop wasn’t there so I understood that an employee may not be in a position to make a decision on whether they were able to do this.

However, whilst I’m extremely pro supporting local businesses, in this instance, I think I’ll be buying a majority of my polaroid film direct from Polaroid Originals.

There is no difference in cost of the film (except for added postage and also the film is discounted if bought in bulk) and Polaroid Originals assured me that if I ever receive a pack of film I’m unhappy with from them, they’ll either provide me with a replacement pack or a complete refund. For this reason I’m happy to pay a few extra pounds for postage.

I’ve since purchased some colour and black and white film from Polaroid Originals which arrived within a few days of ordering and can see that the film has been freshly manufactured in July which is encouraging.

I’ve been extremely impressed with Polaroid Originals as a company. Their customer service is great and I would highly recommend anybody to contact them if they ever have an issue with their Polaroid Camera or film as they are really helpful.

On a final note, for all this particular films faults, I have to admit that I do really like the effect of the middle picture of the West Pier in Brighton as I feel the streaks give the photo an atmospheric, horror look. I think this works quite well with the decaying pier.

Polaroid 600 Camera

From my previous blog posts you’ll see that I’m a fan of instant film photography and currently own a Polaroid Snap and Leica Sofort instant cameras.

I love these two instant camera’s and use them a lot for taking photos on social occasions.

However, due to the size of the photo they produce, I never felt they quite matched up to a polaroid photo if I wanted to take some more artistic style photographs for potentially framing to show at home.

I feel quite nostalgic about vintage polaroid cameras’ due to the fact my parents took a majority of my baby photos on their polaroid camera. Unfortunately they no longer have the camera.

I decided to finally purchase a vintage polaroid camera when I discovered the Polaroid Pink Duochrome 600 film which really inspired my creativity.

The Impossible Project which changed their name last year to Polaroid Originals had produced several colours of this Duochrome style film as limited editions ranging from orange and black, yellow and black and blue and black.

Polaroid Originals have since discontinued all of these limited edition films but thankfully the Pink and Black Duochrome film is still available to purchase from Urban Outfitters in the UK.

Once I knew I could currently purchase this film I had to decide on a Polaroid Camera which was compatible with the 600 film.

After doing much research with the help of a book called ‘Polaroid the Missing Manual’ by Rhiannon Adam, I finally decided I would buy a box type vintage 600 model.

The main reasons I decided to get this style of camera was first of all, it’s compatible with the film type I wanted to use and secondly, it’s a camera I would be able to buy at a relatively low price compared to the new polaroid onestep cameras which retail for over £100 and the desirable folding cameras such as the SX-70 which can sell for over £200 for a good condition one.

I ended up winning an auction on eBay on a Polaroid 600 LMS (Light Management System) camera from around the 1980s which had been refurbished by the Impossible Project just over a year ago and is painted black and white which I really like.

I was slightly nervous, yet excited at the same time about the quality of the images this camera would produce since it is classed as one of the more basic polaroid cameras.

However, I was really pleased with these photos I took:

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I’m currently getting used to the camera and am still in the experimental stage regarding exposure. The picture above taken of Brighton Bandstand was made darker on the Polaroid camera by sliding the control on the front of the camera towards the black arrow. I decided to darken the photo because when I took the photo it was on a very sunny morning and I had seen from the Brighton West Pier photos I took previously that they had come out quite bright so there wasn’t as much detail as you can see in the photos below:

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The Duochrome film retails at £18.99 and there are only 8 photos in a pack which means it works out at over £2.00 per photo which is considerably more than fujifilm mini instax which is around 80p a photo.

Polaroid films used to contain 10 photos in a pack but due to the way it is currently produced and the thickness of each photo, they can only fit 8 photos into a pack. This means that ‘experimenting’ can work out quite costly.

Interestingly, although this is an instant camera, I’m finding that it is actually helping me practice being a patient person (which is something I lack most of the time). This is because I have to really think and plan each photo I take due to the cost of the film.

For instance, I knew that I would have to take a photo of the Brighton Bandstand in the early morning in the daylight before lots of people were up and about either visiting the bandstand or just generally walking around as I didn’t want to waste my film with any unwanted shots of people accidentally getting in my photo. I also had to plan a day when the weather would be reasonably nice and not raining.

Also, the photos don’t develop instantly as you may think. Once the picture is taken, the photo needs to be kept in the dark for at least 10 minutes to enable the picture to develop to it’s full potential. My refurbished camera has a camera shield frog tongue already installed into it to stop the picture being exposed to any light when it first comes out of the camera.

Lastly, I discovered that it can take up to 30 days for the chemicals within the Polaroid film to fully dry so it’s recommended that you don’t put the photos into a plastic photo album or picture frame for at least this amount of time.

For all these constraints, there is something very endearing and addictive I’m finding about taking Polaroid photos.

I’ve since ordered some more Pink Duochrome film, so again, I’m having to be patient whilst I wait for the film to arrive in the post.

Leica Sofort Instant Camera

Following on from my recent blog where I was discussing my Polaroid Snap Shot Instant camera that I’d owned for the past couple of years and the issues I had with the print quality of the photos, I decided I was due an upgrade.

I felt I could justify an upgrade of instant camera as I do use it regularly, especially when I’m out with friends or family.

Whilst I appreciate the cost of film can be quite pricey I do tend to use it carefully and for me personally, I tend to buy instant film every one to two months so the cost isn’t too expensive for me. My basic rule is that I try to shoot quality over quantity with film camera’s.

My upgrade came about when I discovered the Leica Sofort Instant camera for sale in the UK. Whilst I appreciate all camera’s are ‘tools’ I couldn’t help but fall in love with the look and design of this camera.

Since it’s a Leica, this obviously comes at a higher price compared to a lot of instant cameras out there. In the UK the cost of this camera ranges from £200 – £250 and that is for the basic camera. That doesn’t include the cost of the case, film or cool orange, mint and white camera strap.

The camera is currently sold in three colours….white, orange and mint. Personally for me, I absolutely love the orange one.

It uses the fuji instax mini film and also the leica version of this same mini film which is produced by fujifilm.

Whilst the camera isn’t fully manual, it does have a built in flash and has several shooting modes:

  • Macro
  • Bulb
  • Automatic
  • Self timer
  • Party and People
  • Sport and Action
  • Double Exposure
  • Selfie

So far, I’ve mainly shot in standard or party and people mode. I’ve found the photos of people to be very flattering and many of my friends have commented about how the photos make them look younger which they obviously love.

The instant film is easy to load and there is a digital counter on the back which tells you how many photos you have left in the camera which I find really helpful. The film comes in packs of 10.

I find the camera lightweight and very portable. It is slightly bigger than my polaroid snap so doesn’t always fit into my smaller handbags but the cool strap enables me to wear it over my shoulder like a handbag.

There are two colour cases available for this camera in black and brown with a white canvas section on the side parts of the case. Again the cases aren’t overly cheap and retail for around £19 in the UK. However, I was pleased with the quality of the case.

I bought the brown case as I felt this colour complimented the orange shade of camera I owned.

The camera comes with a black Leica neck strap but I didn’t feel this colour went with my orange camera and didn’t look anywhere near as cool as the orange, mint and white strap. I therefore purchased the other strap for around £15 in the UK.

I was very impressed at how quickly the photos came out of my camera in comparison to the Polaroid Snap. The quality of the pictures are a million times better than the zinc  printed paper in my opinion and I’m very happy I decided to opt for an instant camera with this type of film.

The downside to this type of instant camera is that you cannot choose between colour and black and white photo modes like I could on the Polaroid Snap. To do this, I either have to load the camera with colour photos or black and white photos then use up 10 shots before I can change the colour. I can also only print one photo at a time as it doesn’t have different style modes, like the Photo Booth option on the Polaroid Snap. However, the picture quality more than makes up for this.

I tend to use the Leica colour film over the own named fujifilm. There have been many arguments that they’re exactly the same, just with Leica noted on the back of the film prints instead of fujifilm. I personally have found that the Leica film produces a warmer colour picture which I prefer.

However, on the black and white photos, I actually prefer the fujifilm brand over the Leica one because I think the photos are slightly cooler in tone which I personally prefer.

I’m sure there are many people who disagree with me about the difference in the film quality but I’m going from my own personal experience of shooting with both of these brands of films.

I tend to buy my Leica colour instant film online from Harrison Cameras as they currently sell a pack of 20 (2 x packs of 10) for £16.00. I can buy my black and white normal fujifilm from any local camera shop since I prefer the own brand of that to the Leica one.

I won’t deny it, this camera was definitely a luxury treat to myself and I’m sure the fujifilm camera’s take just as good photos for the fraction of the price of this camera but I have to be honest and say the look of this camera was what I loved.

I also loved the fact it was a Leica (admittedly not a German produced high quality Leica) but then it would have cost even more if it had been produced in Germany with all metal casing etc.

Ultimately this camera is great fun, is a great conversation point at a party and I’ve had much fun taking photo’s with it. I love the cool retro design and the fact it’s not too bulky to take out with me like a full size Polaroid camera would be.

I certainly don’t regret my purchase and can see me using this camera for many years to come.

Here are some instant photos I took at a family party this year:

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Here is an instant photo I took of the steering wheel of my friend’s 1965 Mustang:

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Polaroid Snap Instant Camera

I first discovered this camera a couple of years ago when I wanted to get an instant camera for various social events.

I had been to a few social gatherings where some friends of mine were using the Fujifilm Instax Mini instant camera and I really thought it was lovely that I was able to take home an instant picture of the occasion.

Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about instant photos except for the old polaroid instant cameras which were used by my family during the 70s/80s.

I therefore started looking into the types of instant cameras that were available but at a reasonable price as I wasn’t sure how often I would actually use it so didn’t want to spend a small fortune only for it to end up sitting in a drawer several months later.

Whilst looking at the various styles I really liked the look of the Polaroid Snap Cameras as their style really reminded me of the late 70s / early 80s with the colourful rainbow stripe across it.

These cameras come in various colours but were quite pricey at the time (around £105 I recall) which was a little higher than I really wanted to pay. However, to my luck, the pink version suddenly came up in a sale at Urban Outfitters and was reduced to around £49.99. At that price I decided to buy it and it really helped that I loved the pink colour any way (the other colours remained at full price).

I also loved the fact that a really cool case in different colours had been designed for the camera and I bought a contrast white one from Argos for around £15.

What I love about this camera is that it has a magnetic lens protector and it’s very much the same weight of a compact camera so can easily be carried in a handbag on a night out. It has a viewfinder which pops up when pressed up and then closes back into camera when not in use.

What I wasn’t so keen on when I started using it was the type of photo quality you get. This is because the camera uses ZINK Zero-Ink Printing Technology. I found the colour quality to be rather hit and miss.

You can select 3 different types of colour options on top of the camera from full colour, to slightly muted colour and black and white. You can also select a style of print from normal frame, to a border frame and a 4 frame photo (like a Photo Booth) where the camera takes four shots rather than a single one and prints it onto the same piece of paper.

The other downside to this camera is that it doesn’t let you know how many prints are remaining (there are 10 per pack) so unless you keep count (which I struggled to do when at a busy party), I would find myself taking a further picture for it finally to flash at me to state there was no more film and the instant photo moment would have passed so that kind of defeats the object of being an instant camera.

Also, the zinc paper does take a while to print and slowly comes out of the camera so it’s not particularly ‘instant’.

For all it’s faults, it certainly has provided great entertainment over the past few years and I’m pleased that I’ve got full use out of it and it hasn’t sat in a drawer as I worried it may do.

Personally though, I’m pleased I got it for the price I did and didn’t pay the original price as to me, I’m not sure I could have justified it for the print quality of the photos and the inconsistency of not knowing if I have enough paper in there for the photo.

The Zinc paper is cheaper overall per photo than the likes of fujifilm instant film so that is where I think the compromise is.

Since I bought this camera, it has reduced in price to around £69.99 – £89.99. This is because Polaroid have now brought out a newer model called the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Camera with an LCD Screen so you can digitally view the picture on the back of the camera before you print it. There is also bluetooth connectivity and the newer model takes an SD card up to 128gb, which enables you to continue to take photos even if you run out of paper and print them later. This newer model currently retails for around £149.99.

Below are some photos I’ve taken so you can decide for yourself the quality of the images: