Try some Instant Film this Summer!

People above a certain age will remember Polaroid pictures.  Others have probably heard the Outkast song telling you to "shake it like a Polaroid picture" - which, it turns out, was never actually needed.  Depending on the specific camera, you loaded the film, pressed the shutter button and moments later you held a finished print.  What you may not know is that instant film is still alive and well in the digital era.  In fact, instant film has enjoyed a quiet but steady resurgence in the past few years.

Whether you're looking to rejuvenate an old Polaroid camera you found in your grandparents' closet, or if you're in the market for something new, there are a healthy variety of options to choose from today.  Polaroid itself is out of the film business, but that doesn't mean instant film has disappeared.

My Polaroid Land Camera 100, made circa 1963-1966.  I've had to make some repairs to the bellows using liquid electrical tape, but it works just fine.  I also performed a simple battery conversion so it can use cheap AAA batteries. You can buy original type batteries but they're a bit pricey.

For older Polaroid Land Cameras (with model numbers like 100, 250, etc), you can buy pack film from Fujifilm; FP-100c is a color, peel-apart film designed for the Land Camera series that makes for beautiful prints.  (Fujifilm recently stopped producing their FP-3000b, a high-speed black and white peel-apart film, but you may be able to buy some from online retailers before it's completely gone.)  When you consider that these cameras were manufactured around 50-60 years ago, it's impressive that fresh film can still be found for them.

If you have a later model Polaroid camera that uses integral film - the more familiar kind that pops out and develops magically before your eyes - there's a good chance you can buy brand new film from the Impossible Project.  Impossible is a company that arose from the ashes of the old Polaroid film production, and has succeeded in reformulating these old film types from scratch.  Not all of the old cameras are supported, and the film isn't cheap, but it's a fun way to bring new life to an "obsolete" camera today.  Impossible has a dedicated and growing following, and they are continually refining and improving their product line.  While early product runs were billed as "experimental" and were thus unpredictable, pictures made on IP film today are excellent.  You can buy refurbished, vintage Polaroid cameras and accessories from the Film Photography Project.

Instax Mini photo of my friend Chris, shot using the Instax Mini 8 camera.  I find the color palette of Instax film very pleasing and slightly old-school.

A third option is to buy a new camera to use new film: enter the Fuji Instax Mini and Instax Wide cameras and films.  Fujifilm currently makes several models of camera, and 2 sizes of film.  The Wide film is about the dimensions of old-school Polaroid photos, whereas the Mini is half that size (about the size of a business card).  These films are relatively inexpensive and even optionally offer colorful, themed designs on the borders.  The Mini 8 camera is a chunky, basic camera that runs about $65 online.  It comes in assorted colors and is clearly designed with kids in mind.  Fujifilm has recently introduced the Mini 90, which offers more sophisticated features and a retro design for "grown-up" photographers.

So if you're looking for a way to make taking your summer photos more interesting, consider buying an instant camera, and / or pick up some instant film for that old camera and wow your friends and family with real pictures - delivered instantly!