About a year ago I bought an 8×10 Polaroid processor from a friend of mine. As it turns out, he had a lot of expired but unused film stored as well. Recently he gave it all to me on the condition that I use it!
Go ahead, twist my arm. I’m still new to shooting an 8×10 camera so this seemed like the perfect excuse to really dive in and get comfortable with the thing. I was given an amazing 240mm Schneider lens for Christmas so all I really needed was a victim or two to sit in front of the camera.
The first thing I’ve discovered when shooting the Polaroid is there’s very little planning that can go on with what the final image will look like. Yes of course you set up the camera and control that part, but with expired Polaroid film, you’re never quite sure what will actually come out. It can be rewarding and extremely frustrating.
A little history. Polaroid discontinued all film manufacturing a number of years ago. At this point, there is really nothing left available in 8×10 that is within date. Polaroid uses their own pods with the chemistry built into them, so once they have expired and started to dry up, there’s really no going back. There will come a day when it’s completely gone gone with the chemicals all dried up. If it’s been kept cool in a fridge it’s life can be extended. If it’s been kept in the garage or storage as mine was, good luck. The color film seems to last longer. The chemicals in the processing pods are still pretty goopy and spread nicely across the photo. The problem with color is that the expired film no longer has very accurate color so you might be good, you might be yellow, you never can tell until you take a photo and see what happens! Black and White film is a different matter. It has a much shorter shelf life and the majority of mine has begun to fail. I’m lucky if I can get two or three images to partially show up out of an entire box. Most of the chemicals have begun to dry up. While this is annoying, it can lead to interesting results.