|My old, super cool SX-70 camera and some "re-imagined" instant film from The Impossible Project. Such a good idea, going nowhere fast. (Panasonic GF-1, 20mm f/1.7)|
I really, really wanted the people over at The Impossible Project to succeed. I bought a decent amount of their early attempts, knowing that what I was actually doing was subsidizing their research, rather than purchasing a viable film format at that time. And the initial progress was hopeful - the films got better. Unfortunately, they never got "good."
|"Ye Olde Ball Game" (May 2011, Polaroid Spectra, TIP PZ 600 film)|
Another shot from the ballpark. In this case, the strong sepia/yellow cast actually works, making the picture seem old and giving it a nostalgic feel.
But then things seemed to stall. The email updates from TIP became less and less about advances to the film, and more and more about marketing gimmicks - "limited editions," different color image frames, accessories and refurbished Polaroid cameras priced for hipsters living in trust fund lofts rather than tip jar apartments. And as actual improvements to the product appeared to get fewer and farther between, the cost of the product got higher and higher - including the need to sometimes buy additional products to make up for deficiencies in the film itself. Right now, TIP film will run you approximately $3.00 per shot, not including shipping. Pretty steep rate for an unstable, unpredictable and (let's face it) still highly flawed product.
I don't know why the research seems to have stalled. Perhaps the technical hurdles are just too steep to overcome at the scale that TIP is able to fund. Perhaps the partial re-introduction of integral Polaroid/Fuji films has killed off some of the demand - and therefore the funding base - for TIP films. I have not used the Fuji Instax or the Polaroid 300 (which is essentially a rebranded Fuji Mini 25), but from what I've heard the quality is heads and tails above the TIP films at less than a third the cost per shot. True, the newer cameras leave a lot to be desired in the cool-factor category. Frankly, they are just plain ugly, at least in my opinion. But having an attractive box to run your film through only gets you so far if the film itself fails to deliver.
Supposedly, there are even more improved versions of the TIP films coming down the pike later this year. Indeed, the last email that I got from TIP was a bundling sale, that appears to be trying to clear out all of the old (and now for much of it, expired) film stock. However, even at the "super sale" price the per shot cost is still more than $1, which is where to my mind the cost should be in general. The new "improved" versions of the films will almost certainly be more in the $2 to $3+ per shot cost range, and if the most recent updates are any guide, improvements will likely be incremental, at best.
I sold off my second SX-70 body some time ago, and will be putting the other one up on the fleaBay this weekend. I still dream of TIP (or perhaps Fuji, Polaroid or ?????) resurrecting the SX-70 with a quality film product to run through it, I don't think the chances are at all likely, and I would rather use my time and money to subsidize other aspects of the (still shrinking) film market that provide me with the quality and usage experience that make them worthwhile now, rather than those that dangle the chance of that on some ill-defined future date while expecting me to pay premium rates for an inferior product.
Sorry TIP . . . it's not me, it's you. Later.
|"Wake Me Up When You Get Your S#*t Together" (June 2011, Polaroid 600, TIP PX 600 UV+ film)|