One of the things I noted whilst researching instant film photography and in particular Polaroid cameras was the market for out of date film. Packs of long-expired film were changing hands on eBay for more than a fresh pack would cost on amazon for example. The potential for weird and wacky colours and effects, together with the unpredictability of the expired film seemed to be the draw.
I was delighted therefore when a pack of expired Polaroid 600 colour film arrived in the box with a newly purchased Polaroid Sun 600 camera. A chance to try expired film without any additional cost! I was excited by the possibilities. The film was however “use before 2002” which given the stated life of 12 months, the passage of 17 years and the knowledge that colour film generally deteriorates faster than black and white left me feeling very doubtful as to its veracity. I was not disappointed.
Those are not Newton Rings on the border incidentally, I photographed these 9 (of 10) prints using my phone. The tenth was exactly the same and is only excluded so I could make a nice square.
So, my first foray into the world of out of date film was interesting even if it was not particularly productive. How would a pack of Impossible Colour film, expiry date 12/16, fare in the same Polaroid Sun 600 camera? At a mere three years past its expiration date surely some magic was on the cards?
I shot the image above on a crisp but bright and sunny day in good light with a fabulously blue sky. On a glossy colour film.
As you can see I do have an image this time, in fact all eight prints produced a recognisable image. But where was the colour! The batteries were clearly failing too as I struggled to get the last two shots exposed and ejected but they hung on grimly to the end. Just.
I have not desaturated these images at all, in fact I’ve photographed them with a Fuji X100t, in good, even daylight and I’ve carefully matched the images on the screen to the prints on my desk. I don’t dislike these however although I’m not rushing on to eBay for another pack of expired Impossible film!
A sealed pack of Polaroid 600 Extreme, expiry date 12/2001, was the next film to come into my possession. Tucked in the bottom of the box where no doubt it had sat since the camera was bought. The box advertised “Plus 2 Free Films!” and no doubt only the first got used. I put this through a Polaroid Supercolor 635 camera, a reliable old camera that’s produced some nice images. As with the Impossible film the batteries were clearly failing and in fact after just six of the ten prints were exposed they gave up the ghost entirely. But was that a problem? See for yourself below!
So, that is my experience with three expired instant films. Be warned I do have a couple of packs of Polaroid 300 Instant film, expiry date June 2012, which I shall soon put through the Fuji Instax Mini 90.