I was so stoked when I saw the old 3000 speed film inside the Polaroid 100 with the Zeiss viewfinder, I didn’t thoroughly go through the kit. Inside the cold clip was this old sepia Polaroid print.
On the back is what looks like the letter ‘H’ and the number 815341. It seems to be part of the print and not a catalog number or something added later.
I started looking up what the codes mean. What I found referenced other information on the back of the print. I hadn’t seen anything but shining a flashlight on it, I could see more information. I mangled the scan to get enough contrast but here it is.
Upper left, lying on its back is a ‘5’. This was the fifth print in the pack.
“POLACOLOR ® 75 SPEED TYPE 108”. Interesting. This isn’t sepia, it’s color, just really faded.
The blob at the far right goes with the manufacturing code — it should end with a letter. I didn’t chop off the scan, the letter is just badly placed and only half on the print.
According to this document (820K PDF), ‘H’ is the month of manufacture, so, August. The first digit is the year of manufacture, so ‘8’, but 19_what_8? It would seem to be 1968 since the same document says “renamed Type 108 Polacolor 2, 1975”.
The example shown in the document for Polaroid Land Pack Film is confusing. The example serial number is “H612591 P” and they give August, 1976. It seems that the example should say “Polacolor 2” since it’s after 1975. Unless they mean it was renamed to “Type 108 Polacolor” in 2, 1975 (as in February, 1975)? Or maybe the film name change doesn’t correspond to what’s printed on the back of the print?
OK, I will have to dig more for what decade. This other document (155K PDF) from 1998, shows better what the other numbers mean.
The next 2 digits in H 815341, the “15”, are numbers showing what machine made the film pack. The next 2 digits, “34” are more useful. Using the lookup table on page 7 of the 2nd document, “34” means the ‘A’ shift on the 12th of the month.
So, this print was made on machine 15, during ‘A’ shift, on 12 August, in either 1968 or 1978.
I’ll try dating the 3000 film that was in the camera. Of course, like Midge, the print may have nothing to do with the camera.
Update (still 1 March 2019): The 3000 film wasn’t as old as I thought. It was made 10 May 2001 so it’s no help trying to date the photo. At least I know for later films, the date codes work.
2nd update (still 1 March 2019):
Heritage Auctions had Andy Warhol Polaroids on Polacolor 2 and it does say it.
They say “circa 1970s” for the photo but the film Warhol used was made in August of 1981. It can’t be 1971 because the film wasn’t labeled “Polacolor 2” until after 1975.
Finally, I’m happy enough with the evidence to say my print’s film was made 12 August 1968.
Update 1 March 2019
Trying to date a print I found with the camera, I looked up the date codes on the back of the positives. The film is not as old as I thought. It’s Type 667, the successor to the 107C film referenced below. Using the documents from the Phound Photo entry, the B&W film with manufacturing code E1V142801H is:
Made after 1996 (from the format of the code).
E=made in May.
1=2001 (the first 1 year after 1996).
V=made at the Vale of Leven plant in Scotland.
14=identifies it was made on machine #14.
28=shift A on 10th of month.
01=component change (I have no idea what this means).
H=Type 667 film (coaterless, 10 frames per pack).
End of Update 1 March 2019
I got another pack film camera, a 100 with the Zeiss rangefinder from a 250. It had a pack of Polaroid Type 107 3000 B&W film in it. I pulled one on the very long odds that the developing pods might be good. Nope, dry as a bone. I put a battery in the camera and tried the shutter and it seems to work fine.
I pulled the shutter test frame out of the camera in a dark bag and tried developing it. I’d read somewhere that you could develop the negatives from pack film but I’d never seen an example or tried it. On one Flickr discussion group, someone suggested you could treat it like old Kodak Panatomic-X. So, I had to dig for developing info about one extinct film (according to Wikipedia, Panatomic-X hasn’t been made since 1987) so I could try it on another extinct film.
The instructions I got with the 107 film in the camera call for coating the prints. The coater-less version, 107C, came out in 1978. I don’t know if Polaroid kept making 107 after 107C came out but even 107C hasn’t been made since 1998. If I’d realized it was that old I might have saved a frame. Probably not, the first thing people do when looking at an old camera in a thrift shop is to open it. Any way, the instructions I found called for HC-110 dilution B (1+31) at 68F for 4.5 minutes.
I don’t have any normal tanks that can develop large format negatives. The Polaroid image (excluding the border) is 7.3 X 9.5cm. In one of those “buy the lot to get the one thing you want” purchases, I got a Cibachrome color processing drum (PDF manual). It was made to do prints without using a series of open trays. Cibachrome was an awesome process, direct to positive, full color prints. Sadly, I learned about it too late. It too is an extinct product.
This is the shutter test shot. Developed in HC-110, dilution H (1+63) at 68F for 9 minutes. I frequently use half the concentration for twice the time. It’s a little gentler on old negatives (old paper negative in this case) and it helps to have a little time leeway. The results are pretty similar to HC-110 B. This was a go/no-go test so getting anything was the goal.
No idea what it is but it’s not my target, the kitchen lights. I tried bleaching the negative but all I did was take off some of the emulsion.
I had nothing but variables: an unknown film, shot in an unknown camera, developed with an unknown process. I know, I’ll use a different camera I haven’t tested!
I pulled the remaining three frames out of the film pack and put them into a light tight box. Wrangling a Polaroid and a box in a small changing bag is an exercise in patience. Once that was done, I removed the extra paper, developing pods, and positives, leaving just the negatives emulsion side up (I think) in the box. The next magic act was getting a negative out of the box and into the test camera, a Kodak Autographic No. 3A (1918-27) which is nearly as big as the Polaroid.
I shot a test and then psyched myself out that I didn’t have the emulsion facing the subject. Just to be sure, I put the beast back in the dark bag, turned the film over and shot it again. I shot the same subject so I still don’t know if I had it right the first time.
My meter app doesn’t have ISO 3000 so I guesstimated that the film would have lost some speed and used 2500. I used the fastest shutter on the old Kodak, 1/100 second and f/16. That was really fortunate since the aperture on the camera is labeled in US (Universal System) units not f-stops. I have a screen grab of an old table comparing aperture systems somewhere. At least I didn’t have to stop everything and find it because I remembered that f-stops and US cross each other at 16
I was getting impatient so I used HC-110 B for 4.5 minutes this time. The framing is terrible but the blobs of dark on the negative are definitely the kitchen lights.
Did I prove anything? Yeah sort of. I know old Polaroid negatives will produce an image. Is it useful information? Probably not to anyone but me but that was the point. Photography forums (fora?) are as bad as Apple discussion groups. There’s always some snarky little bitch who says, “Why waste time? Just go buy X”. That misses the point. I want to know. I already know I can go buy something — there’s no challenge in that.
Scanned on a CanoScan 9000f at 600DPI. These are resized to 1024 pixels on the short side.
The first two are also in the video. There are 8 frames in a pack of Impossible film — it’s not like I have 36 images to choose from, plus, I really like them.
This is a lame picture but it’s the result of an experiment so I included it. I used a telephoto adapter for a Canon AF35ML/Super Sure Shot/Autoboy Super (which sadly, I don’t have working yet). I framed using the adapter lens held over the viewfinder lens and then moved it over the taking lens. I was a little sloppy with the framing (no tripod) and got my finger in the picture but it works! That means I can use an even longer telephoto, a wide angle, or even a fish-eye adapter. I do need to adjust for the loss of light next time — there ain’t no free lunch.
Another developer-didn’t-quite-reach splat. Still, not bad for film that’s been expired for 2 years.
Not much in addition to what’s in the video — Impossible only gives you 8 frames per pack. I had a blank “oops”, too close flash over exposure, and accidentally took two shots of Pokey.
I did some tweaks on the exposure levels on these.
Not much to show for finished images. I shot three Fuji FP-100C frames but the last one was a test to see if I’d found the problem with the intermittent connection and it’s completely black. I have to be frugal since Fuji has discontinued the last of their pack films.
How can you have a global monopoly on pack film with millions (tens of millions?) of cameras still in use and not make enough money to bother manufacturing it any more?
Seriously, how much profit margin does Fuji need? They don’t have any engineering costs to pay down, it was Polaroid’s design. Maybe a little bit to improve it over the years but they didn’t eat billions (in today’s dollars) like Polaroid did to invent integral film from scratch.
We’re stuck with Instax (a derivative of Kodak’s instant film) for now but if anyone figures out how to mirror-image Impossible film or shoot it through the back, I’m done with these greedy, fickle [bleep]s forever.
Seriously, sell the manufacturing equipment and put the film formulas into the public domain. If you can’t make money with a monopoly, you’re the problem, not the product. Let someone else have a go at it.
Sorry, I had to get that out.
I tested this camera after cleaning the battery compartment and contacts and the shutter opened. To get some justice from the battery that crapped up the camera, I removed the snaps from the ends of it (the 3V batteries have larger connectors than 9V batteries) and soldered them to the ends of a CR123 lithium battery.
I’m glad I tested again before loading because it stopped working. That’s when I traced the battery wire to the shutter circuit, re-soldered the battery connector, and replaced the foam.
The shutter was working consistently now so I loaded film and got a late evening image that was back-lit and too dark.
Try again with the flash gun.
I opened it back up and started doing continuity tests. My meter has a nice diode check function that beeps if point ‘A’ and point ‘B’ are connected. I’d get BEEEEP-BE-BE-[silence]-BEEEEP-BE-BE… Argh! Nothing is a bigger PITA than intermittent connections.
Quote from Brian R: Sometimes it’s intermittent but not always.
I guess was cheaper to manufacture but seeing ribbon cable instead of a proper circuit board made me sad — it can melt before solder becomes liquid and it gets brittle with age. It lasted 50 years so I guess I shouldn’t complain but I am because it made me think and work.
An Instax Wide cartridge is a tight fit vertically but it fits. Side-to-side, I eyeballed the spacing with an empty cartridge and did it by feel with a partially used cartridge in the dark bag.
The last bit is unscrewing some parts in the Polaroid so the back will close over the Instax cartridge.
Converting from ISO 800 Instax to 100 for the camera is done with a minus-3-stop (ND8) neutral density filter.
I didn’t adjust the exposure and the image is a little dark. The cell being 50 years old might have something to do with that too.
My dark bag can’t hold a pack film camera and an Lomo Instant Wide with room to work. I transferred the film from the Lomo to a film box in the bag, opened up and swapped the Polaroid in, loaded the film, took the picture, moved the film from the Polaroid to the box in the bag, swapped in the Lomo, loaded the film, took the Lomo out of the bag, and took a shot with the lens cap on. Somewhere in that convoluted mess, I got a light leak.
There’s a video on Youtube where a guy loaded the Instax into a pack film cartridge and shot into the front of the Instax film. I may have to play with that but that’s not how it’s made — just look at how the film is oriented when it exits your Instax camera. Like the Kodak instant film or any camera without a mirror between the lens and the emulsion, you have to shoot the back or you get a mirror image. I’ll update this post or do another one with the optics involved so you can see I’m not full of beans.
I can’t bust his chops too much — he has a calico.
Thanks to the folks at Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day for getting me started in another addictive diversion.
1200DPI scans on a CanoScan 9000f. I scanned in color and decided to leave them that way.
The scanned images in the video and the ones posted here are unedited except for resizing. The negative scans had levels adjusted before reversing to positive. It’s kind of a cool effect doing it that way — I just have to reverse my thinking to imagine what it will look like.
I haven’t scanned the Socorro Peak negative yet. I put it between two pieces of paper to protect it not realizing it still had wet developer goo on it. I washed off some of the emulsion with the glued-on paper.
Some people have gotten sharp images using pinhole cameras. I’m not there yet. I’m going to try more experiments and not wait until the week before next year’s Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day to cobble something together.
I spotted some Minolta 16 film in a “lot” auction online. To get it I had to buy a Polaroid 268 flash, some bulbs that don’t fit it, Flashcubes, and a Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 230. A lot of shipping to get some tiny film cartridges but you do what you gotta do.
The 230 turned out to be pretty nice. The film in it was dried out but it has a manual and a cold clip. With a 3 X AAA kludge to give it 4.5 volts, I verified the shutter works too.
Tucked in the front of the case with the manual was this photo. The 230 doesn’t use 80 series film so I think “Midge” (no idea why that’s what I named her) is a souvenir for the photographer.
No idea who or where. All I know is she’s married, probably right-handed, drinks Maxwell House coffee, and wears really cool glasses.
I’m seriously bummed that Fuji stopped making this film. I can shoot color and then convert in Photoshop but it’s just not the same. Scanned at 1200DPI on the CanoScan 9000f. A little dust cleanup on a couple but no exposure edits.