Would instant film be difficult to make?

Discussion in 'Instant Cameras, Backs and Film' started by crystalclear, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    After seeing all the debates about Polaroid quiting the instant business, and the instant film lovers trying desperately to get another company to produce it, a question comes to mind. Just how hard would it be for say, an upstart, to come along and make a similar product? A small business filling this niche market could still make millions. Its only the large companies that have huge overhead that wouldn't take it on. I'm not surprised at all that ILFORD turned down Polaroid. I'm really shocked that they would even ask another big company. How about Polaroid just auction off the process and equipment to someone who's actually interested in instant film?

    I figure though that theres got to be an ex Polaroid employee or film expert that would know how to produce limited quantities of instant film. Of course it would have to be different from the Polaroid brand for infringement reasons, although I don't know what difference it makes now that Polaroid doesn't give a care.

    I've seen a lot of people who are doing film transfers. Some even make a living going to parties, fairs, etc who make money taking someones picture and transfering it to watercolor paper. Not the mention the Artists who use it. Now they're scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do next.

    With all the money people are spending on the last Polaroid stock, you know theres a market.

    Just my opinion. Correct me if this should have come under a different category.

    CrystalClear
     
  2. Sino

    Sino Member

    Messages:
    166
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Location:
    Chania, Gree
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Welcome to APUG.

    The topic has been discussed to death before, and there have been some serious opinions on whether or not there could be such a company making such a product. Try a forum search on Polaroid. Although I wish someone would, I believe that it's not going to happen.

    -Sino.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You need to make a camera film with emulsion on it, a reciever layer with shutdown materials on it, and a method to capture the image and you need to produce a pod that will process the film.

    All three require some rather specialized equipment, and pod making is hardest of all. We made them under an inert atmosphere at Kodak.

    In addition, you need the pull tabs, rails to separate the two pieces of the packet properly, and you need dark covers on each half to protect the film from light.

    It does not matter where you place it, the answers are the same. :D Instant products are very very hard to make.

    PE
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    CC, bear in mind that with exception of type 55/665, sx, polaroid tungsten, and polaroid sheets larger than 4x5, the fuji instant materials have pretty much filled the instant film void. The fujis are very, very good, and still being made freshly, with excellent QC (beter than polaroid's IMHO)... at viable cost.

    Regarding the thought of polaroid simply giving the equipment and technical details over to someone else, well, the expense is moving the big equipment and all that. Their process was very much scaled up and, ironically, it's less expensive to scale up an industrial process than to dial it back into a niche. It would be hideously expensive for somebody to try to move the equipment, set up new contracts for the raw materials, get the polaroid line back up and running in reduced capacity, and then move the product reputably into a declining market.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2008
  5. amuderick

    amuderick Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Keith is very right.

    The best we can hope for at this point is that Fuji would be willing (say in cooperation with Unsaleable) to make special runs of 'heirloom' emulsions: 669-like, 55, Choco, Sepia, etc. In that instance they would have a guaranteed buyer for the entire run. However, I notice that Unsaleable still has stock on the run of 2000 Choco-80 twin-packs. They were manufactured at least 18 months ago. That tells me the art market for instant film is much smaller than Polaroid fans are willing to admit.

    As for integral film that is SX-70, 600 or Spectra compatible...the odds are looking pretty grim. Pickup a Fuji Instax camera and get practicing.
     
  6. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,650
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2004
    Location:
    Manitoba, Ca
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Most people can't boil water, never mind make a Polaroid type film :D
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I guess I should never expect to teach you how to make and coat an emulsion then, right?

    PE
     
  8. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, maybe its time someone started thinking outside the box. This is fifty year old technology we're talking about here. Just look at the ZINK technology. No inks! No cartriges to change, just special paper. Dare I mention this in a film forum, but a digital to print hybrid might be the ticket.

    I fully intend to use FP-100C and FP-100B in my LAND 104. I have a feeling that the price will jump through the roof when polaroid stocks are depleted though.
     
  9. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,650
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2004
    Location:
    Manitoba, Ca
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Is that the same thing?
     
  10. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I was just making the point that maybe theres a cheaper and simpler way to do it these days.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Xerox and Kodak have both shown versions of ZINK type technology. Xerox was using it for B&W news announcemnts at the local airport IIRC, as a trade trial, and also for a reusable newspaper that was blanked and had the new news downloaded to a memory chip in the paper matrix. It uses colored (white and black) spherical pigments that are caused to rotate in the paper matrix based on a charge differential.

    The Kodak version is based on OLEDs and creates a print on a sheet of paper like material which can be folded and rolled up. (OLEDS = Organic LEDs) It could produce a 20" color image that you can fold up and put in your pocket.

    So, I think that big advances in imaging of this type may overwhelm the production of Polaroid type prints. This is not the equivalent of endorsing digital, as these images need not be digital.

    PE
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,302
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If it was cheap, easy and - here's the kicker - profitable, someone would have picked it up already. It's none of the three.

    Regards, Art.
     
  13. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,076
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I think you would see small scale paper production (or maybe a hand coat-able AZO emulsion hint hint PE :smile:)long before small scale instant film production.

    The tech involved instant films is actually pretty staggering.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I wouldn't endorse digital at all. I own one digital camera, which I use for quick snapshots, but I prefer 35mm, instant, etc anyday!

    Wonder when they'll close the savepolaroid site, now that theres pretty much no hope? :smile:

    Now I can sit back and wait for us to have this conversation all over again when Kodak, FUJI, ILFORD etc. suddenly stop making 35mm. Then we'll probably hear more of a ruckus. I know I'll be ticked off!
     
  16. okto

    okto Member

    Messages:
    208
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What it should tell you is that unsaleable's prices are outrageous if you don't live in Europe, and even then they're pretty high. I'd buy some Choco if it wasn't going to cost me Time-Zero prices per exposure, and then that much again to ship it.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In the labs, we used to get 5x7 pieces of the film, the reciever and a box of pods. We also had rails and other parts of the film unit. We had a set of tempered rollers.

    What we had to do, in the dark, was assemble all of this into a functioning film pack (after exposure) and then run it through the rollers to test the film. This was a daunting, time consuming job that was done at high speed at Kodak by the COMAM (COntinuous Motion Assembly Machine) and the RAMs and FAMS (I forget the expansion of these from the acronym).

    These machines were expensive and difficult to maintain and represent technology of the 80s. They would be barely economical to run let alone move or build from scratch. Among other things, the equipment must be perfectly aligned to prevent problems during high speed operation.

    Good luck to anyone trying.

    PE
     
  18. amuderick

    amuderick Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The original Polaroid roll film was hand assembled in complete darkness because there was no assembly equipment. After a few hours people started to go batty in the dark. Visual hallucinations and such. IIRC, Land moved to hire blind workers because they had no problems working in the dark for long hours.

    okto, my point is that if people aren't willing to pay Unsaleable's prices for a custom batch of film (which is awesome stuff BTW), then it proves that any special batch is not a sustainable proposition.

    As for ZINK, I am not excited. This product has been vaporware for quite some time and I firmly believe it will remain that way.
     
  19. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    CC, if you aren't familiar with Land's story, his biography by McElheny would be a very interesting read. Despite a virtually limitless research budget, Land barely got instant films to work within Polaroid's own financial constraints. More than once, Land was within days or hours of a hard delivery deadline for a product that wasn't yet working. What impressed me in the biography is how much risk he assumed, and how masterful a salesman he was.... It's quite a story.

    You might say, well, we already have the formulas, we can reproduce them. That's correct, though bringing a product to market in a viable way would be very tough. Here is one way I suppose that it might be done on a small scale: it might be possible to persuade someone to make the separate pos and neg sheets and the goop and then get people to do the rest themselves. The one sheet is "just" a complicated layer-cake of dyes and chemicals which one could look up in a patent. As for packed and podded pack films ready to shoot... fahgedaboudit!

    So goop-it-yourself is the best hope for LF polaroid, I'm afraid. :rolleyes:

    So I think beyond that we must keep Fuji-san in the business as long as we can, by using their current products.

    P.S. I don't know what the numbers are, but my suspicion is that polaroid made more profit from the plastic polarizer materials than the instant films. At a glance, I was very, very impressed by the intricacies of the polaroid process. Getting those films to work as viable commercial products was a spectacular accomplishment. So spectacular that, frankly, I don't think it'd be easier to accomplish now, even if we had modern PhDs and the basic recipes in front of us.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2008
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Keith;

    Remember that Land could not get it to work in his labs and hired Kodak to do his R&D and the initial few years of production for him! Kodak did all of that development work under contract.

    In addition, in your scheme of things, who makes all of the dozens of specialized organic chemicals for you if you wish to DIY, and who does the solvent coating, as some of this is done from flammable organic solvents IIRC.

    PE
     
  21. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, I guess I could always convert my 104 into a camera obscura and draw on paper. But of course, as soon as I did that, they'd quit making drawing paper. So then I'd have to switch to notebook paper, which would then itself be discontinued. Ha ha, but alas, I can make my own paper. Paper is easy to make. In china, paper is made from bamboo. So they'll never be able to discontinue art as long as someone knows how to make, or is willing to try to make, the medium. :smile:
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ron, I realize that the DIY approach is very unlikely, hence my rolled eyes!

    Even if one could get it all to work... why not just shoot ordinary film? We could build an E6 develop-on-the-spot portable film processor....
     
  23. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Theres an idea!
     
  24. crystalclear

    crystalclear Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd love to do that with 35mm.
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,898
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Then E6 would dissapear!

    :sad:

    PE
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,978
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If you just want to develop film quickly, look at this thread--

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/18177-monobath-developers.html

    As long as you can get the film from the holder into the solution in the dark, you've got a neg ready to wash in 6 minutes, and if you match it up with the right film, it's got some of the same characteristics as Type 55--very sharp with high acutance--because the Type 55 developer was also a monobath in the form of a gel.

    It's not really much more complicated than putting a Type 55 neg into the clearing solution, but it does have to be done in the dark, and you need to agitate once per minute. It could be done in a changing tent or darkbox.