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View Full Version : First Impressions of Silver Shade SX-70 Polaroid Film - Impossible Project



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holmburgers
04-05-2010, 10:37 AM
Hi ya'll,

So I thought it might be good to start a thread dedicated to discussing the new film from the Impossible Project. The Ilford rep's on here might find it interesting, and indeed as it's brand spankin' new, let's be the first to review it!

I received mine on Friday here in the U.S. I ordered it the day 1st day it was available, or at least once they sent me an email, whenever that was. With shipping, and only buying 1 8-shot pack, it costs me $4 per picture! I intend to only use it for special occaisions.

I've only taken two shots so far, and my impressions are this...

The latitude is fairly narrow, and I think it'll be key to learn how best to use your "exposure wheel". Highlights were easily overexposed and left nothing but white, while the shadows aren't exactly the richest of blacks (maybe I'm just overexposing period). There is some interesting graininess in the dark areas. It's hard to describe, and I wish I had a scanner to show, but it's almost like little grains of sand spread far apart. It doesn't appear to be silver-grain, per se.

My shots ended up with a great sepia tone, perhaps due to the temperture here in Kansas at the moment, which is maybe just a bit above room temp. Pictures took at least 10 minutes to fully develop and maybe an hour til they're really rich & finalized.

Using a new-old-stock flash bar that came in the bag w/ my SX-70 (antique mall for $15!) produced an awesome portrait. I'd recommend darkening maybe one degree on the dial, especially if your friend is white & pasty like mine.

All in all I'm excited. I've never been a Polaroid shooter before this, but despite the cost & fairly lo-fidelity, it's something I intend to keep shooting. Speaking of the fidelity, it's not gonna rival shots from a typical film camera, at least in my "2 shot" experience. I half expected to see the resolution you'd get from an equally sized negative, but I don't think that's gonna happen at the moment. The shots on their website seem like accurate representations. Kind of dreamy looking. At first I was disappointed, but it was because my first picture was just plain crappy, and thus I didn't have the "resolution" to fall back on. But my next picture, a portrait of an old friend, knocked my socks off. The resolution didn't matter anymore, it was the image that counted. So in a way, this film will put your pictures to the test.

I will probably only use this film sporadically, maybe only a few shots per month! (sorry Impossible Project) I hope they've considered this in their business structure, and they're not expecting people to buy this stuff weekly. It's just too expensive for that, but it's well worth it when the occasion justifies it. And maybe some people have deeper pockets than me and don't have as much money tied up in other gear!

I can't wait for the color film as well.

patois
04-05-2010, 12:10 PM
So far I have really liked working with PX100. I knew it was going to be limited and kind of annoying but so for it has been fun. I have shot 5 shots and I am waiting to shoot the other three.
http://www.bessablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/px100-1.jpg
http://www.bessablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/px100-5.jpg

I've posted the other three images PX100 images on my blog (http://www.bessablog.com/this-grand-emulsion/).

holmburgers
04-05-2010, 12:24 PM
Your comments on your blog are very good, it is like an instant albumen print or daguerrotype. Definitely a nostalgic look. I wonder if it is their intent to perfect the film over time, maybe someday resulting in new formulations & looks.


++updated++

So a few more comments... I do have one fear for this film at the moment. I'm afraid that people who are on the fence about analog photography, but having heard all the "hubbub" about the Impossible Project might buy it, use it, and be like... "whoa, analog film sucks." The lomography folks on the other hand will probably relish in it's lo-fi look, but it doesn't necessarily, at the moment, say much for the quality that is achievable with analog photographic processes. This is my only pessimistic feeling on the subject however.

Ektagraphic
04-05-2010, 01:09 PM
I agree. After speaking with the woman working at the New York location at length, she told me that the film is being improved as we speak and this is why this particualr is the silver shade "First Flush". Their 600 film to come is supposedly more of a black and white instead of this film and is easier to work with. She said that they are doing the same with the SX-70 and trying to improve the quality and make it slightly more user freindly. To me is sounds like the best of the ImPossible Project is yet to come. I can post some of my scans when I get home.

Ektagraphic
04-05-2010, 01:10 PM
On another note, I am liking the results that I am getting. It is kind of fun....My results seem much more realistic than yours.....Your blog had talked about a cold clip and this film is very sensative to heat during development! If when I turn the print over while it is developing and rest my thumb on the back, there is a brow/red spot where my thumb was from it's heat so be somewhat careful to keep the 68 degrees F as much as possible unless you are looking for offbeat results.

guyjr
04-05-2010, 03:52 PM
I really hope they improve the post-shot sensitivity to light that seems to be the main culprit in my getting reproducible shots. The process is so variable right now that I feel the film is in control, instead of me, the photographer. I've tried the various methods posted about limiting light exposure - taping the dark slide to the front, flipping the image down while waiting to process, and none of them work reliably well enough where I feel confident that I can take the same shot two times in a row, and get nearly the same result each time.

That to me is the fatal flaw right now in the "first flush". Refine the film to the point where the photographer actually has some more control, and can actually watch the image develop (isn't that part of the fun of Polaroid too!?!), and I think TIP will have a winner.

rthomas
04-05-2010, 04:03 PM
Just a footnote regarding lo-fi photos ... I recently did a portrait shoot with my RB67, and decided to take a test Polaroid with some (to me) precious type 669 - just to see what I thought of the lighting and setting we had chosen - before shooting with regular black-and-white film. My clients, neither of whom are particularly interested in photography, found the Polaroid of their young daughter very charming and nostalgic (and of course they got to keep it). My point is there really is some general interest in photographic processes that aren't necessarily "high-fidelity" or "perfect" and that it's not just the lomography fans who feel this way. I hope the Impossible Project proves very successful!

Now I need to find an SX-70.

fschifano
04-05-2010, 04:41 PM
This first flush film from The Impossible Project looks nasty. Now, I'm not gonna be one to say that analog photography sucks, 'cause I know better. I've been toying with the idea picking up an old SX-70 camera since I heard about this project, but if this is an example of what we can expect to see from the venture, I'll pass. The images are fuzzy, very low contrast, and show traces of uneven development. I'm sorry guys, you're gonna have to do a lot better than that. Maybe the Lomo and Holga crowds will think it's cool, but I don't. These are the kind of images I'd get when I was a little guy using Dad's Kodak 620 folder. It gets old fast.

arealitystudios
04-05-2010, 05:00 PM
I too received my first order of PX-100 on Friday. My experience with the stuff has been a bit "unique" though.

When I got it I loaded it into my old SX-70 camera right away. I haven't used the thing since about 1998 and its been sitting on a dusty shelf all that time so I suppose I shouldn't have been shocked when the camera didn't come to life. The electronics were totally dead.

I thought about jumping on ebay and spending an arm and a leg for a new one (the prices are so inflated right now) but instead I decided to load it in a basic 600 One Step camera instead. I put a layer of scotch tape on the sensor to act as a neutral density filter and just covered the flash bar with my hand.

What can I say? I'm impatient...

Believe it or not but I like the results I got. I'm at work as I type this so I can't post my scanned results but if you have a Facebook account and you search my name: Andrew Kaiser or my e-mail: arealitystudios@gmail.com you can see my first attempt.

It was also pouring down rain when I took my first few images so the film got a little wet and it got stuffed in a wet pocket which affected the outcome. I rather loved the whole experience actually with the environment affecting my images. It felt right in line with the spirit of instant photography. I think the sepia-ish tones are really lovely too and very unique. Not quite like anything I've ever seen and I don't think my scanner could ever do it justice. I hope future runs of the film don't loose this quality.

I think there is room for improvement for sure but for now I will enjoy the remaining shots I have and will no doubt buy more when I run out.

patois
04-05-2010, 06:46 PM
So a few more comments... I do have one fear for this film at the moment. I'm afraid that people who are on the fence about analog photography, but having heard all the "hubbub" about the Impossible Project might buy it, use it, and be like... "whoa, analog film sucks." The lomography folks on the other hand will probably relish in it's lo-fi look, but it doesn't necessarily, at the moment, say much for the quality that is achievable with analog photographic processes. This is my only pessimistic feeling on the subject however.

I hear you on that. I'm affraid it will appeal to the lomo crowd who will be frustrated when their $3 a shot film looks like crap. I'm hoping that Impossible is planning on producing two lines from film, arty like PX100 FF and another for Polaroid that is less arty and more "normal." I hear Lady GaGA has invested her own money in Polaroid so I would assume they are planning something big.

Ektagraphic
04-05-2010, 09:26 PM
I just can't wait to see the revisions....Especially the 600 film!

clayne
04-06-2010, 01:32 AM
I hear Lady GaGA has invested her own money in Polaroid so I would assume they are planning something big.

Oh for C Sakes..

Ektagraphic
04-06-2010, 04:51 AM
Here are some of my shots that I have scanned.

sepiareverb
04-06-2010, 06:54 AM
I've been loving the film- I've just run one pack so far, but I've got two more here.

http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff221/sepiareverb/withmyheadfullofblood.jpg
http://i239.photobucket.com/albums/ff221/sepiareverb/hat.jpg

I'm also trying the Fade To Black, but having less success with that.

nyoung
04-06-2010, 07:27 AM
How much of the softness etc. in the photos do you guys think is in the film and how much is the old crappy cameras?
IIRC all the Polaroid cameras except for the high dollar SX-70 SLRs had inherently inferior exposure control and they always developed alignment problems in the rollers that spread the "goo." The misalignment always resulted in uneven development.

holmburgers
04-06-2010, 10:46 AM
I don't think it's the cameras, because I've yet to see a single picture that doesn't have these characteristics. Besides, SX-70's are pretty nice.

It sounds like we can only expect the film to become more refined, and if it doesn't, it's still a cool look.

I really do believe in its power to "distill" your composition, which I think will teach us a lot about our own picture taking prowess.

nyoung
04-07-2010, 09:17 AM
Well, the photos posted here look interesting anyway. I'm thinking I may still have one of the first generation SX-70 cameras. Time to go rummaging through the closets to see if I can find something to try this out with.

clayne
04-07-2010, 10:03 PM
I really do believe in its power to "distill" your composition, which I think will teach us a lot about our own picture taking prowess.

Huh? I've heard all the polaroid-speak out there, but please fill me in on this one.

Joe VanCleave
04-08-2010, 08:17 AM
I don't think it's the cameras, because I've yet to see a single picture that doesn't have these characteristics. Besides, SX-70's are pretty nice.

It sounds like we can only expect the film to become more refined, and if it doesn't, it's still a cool look.

I really do believe in its power to "distill" your composition, which I think will teach us a lot about our own picture taking prowess.

The original SX-70s had very nice optics; they are remarkably sophisticated cameras.

I would hope that the Impossible films prove, over time, to be less impossible, otherwise I'm not sure I'll purchase more than one or two packs to test them out.

I like this idea about the distillation of composition, although I don't think it's a property unique to instant films. It reminds me of A. Adam's quote, about "sharp images of fuzzy concepts," where I've seen many sharp "test shots" on digital camera forums, whose resolution, tonal range and dynamic range are textbook state-of-the-art, but the image itself is, well, pedestrian. Another example is a well-made pinhole camera image that, although lacking in technical sophistication in virtually every metric measurable, somehow comes through the lo-res muck to reveal something essential. This kind of hidden art is not about the format or technique - it has nothing to do intrinsically with instant film's properties - but rather about how a person, skilled in photographic technique, can apply their inner artistic gifts and transcend the medium.

~Joe

holmburgers
04-08-2010, 11:25 AM
Huh? I've heard all the polaroid-speak out there, but please fill me in on this one.

Joe (next post) nailed it. The Ansel Adam's quote is exactly what I had in mind. By distill I mean, reduce to it's most fundamental elements. The PX100 doesn't give you continuous tonal gradations, or rich deep blacks w/ sparkling highlights, or sumptuous grain (any more sexy adjectives out there??)...

What it does give you is a "line drawing", if you will, of your picture. As is the case, the composition must be powerful enough to overcome these other "shortcomings" that we all get off on, but really have nothing to do with what makes a great photograph.

It's like, why do all of Ken Rockwell's pictures suck, yet he has the most sophisticated gear?

Hopefully Mr. Rockwell's not a member here, or any fans of his.....