View Full Version : Polachrome "instant" 35mm silde film
I have been reading this stack of old Modern Photography mags I got for six bucks on eBay, and came across a report on this film. I had no idea it even ever existed, let alone for 20 years. You shot it at ISO40 and then ran it through a little machine along with a developing strip, and 3 minutes later you had a totally dry positive strip.
It's still around, expired, on eBay, but nobody is selling the machine. Was it any good? Did any of you shoot with it? The Modern editors were very excited about it and said it looks rather like K64, but the world doesn't seem to have agreed in the long run.
I used it, and still have the machine, but I can't say it looked anything like K64 at all. I'll try to get around to scanning some and to posting it. There were quite a few 'flavours' for different applications. The main drawback was that it was INCREDIBLY fragile: the lightest touch on freshly-processed film was a disaster.
Did it eventually stabilize?
This is interesting.
Tell us more
In those days, i.e. some 20 odd years ago, the graphics technician in the office that I worked in used that to make slides for presentation. Before the age of Powerpoint, that was the fastest way to get an presentation finished, as long as the camera-ready graphics was ready. I had never handled the film myself, except for using the finished product in presentations. From what I can recall, it served the purpose well for slides of words and graphics. For pictures in the presentations, we always used Kodachrome slides.
The machines are much easier to get than film - the chemistry cartridges are almost always dead by now.
The film was crap - it had a brief stint of popularity when it came out, as the colour version was a cheap way of achieving a Autochrome effect in analogue times and the black and white delivered slides without advanced lab tricks. The tonality was terrible, the colours were little better, the colour one did not scan and print well due to moire issues with its line raster, and its "white" was a dark grey.
Besides, the processors were less than reliable, and after a while you'd have goo or telegraph lines on most of your fresh slides.
It faded rapidly into the field it was intended for - used along with the Polaroid slide printer as a pre-beamer display technology for Harvard Graphics and other early presentation software.
When I tried to scan 'em, the memories came flooding back. VERY critical exposure, very contrasty. Frances liked Polablue (most critical of all for exposure); I preferred the plain B+W; and as Sevo said, the colour version was a bar steward to scan. One of each is attached. They required quite a lot of manipulation once scanned, too.
Note: these were test shots. You may see why we didn't use the stuff much for 'real' photography.
Oh my, yeah, those are not so hot. Interesting though...as an enthusiast of obsolete technology, I find the concept appealing, perhaps as a source of lo-fi effects outside the photoshop box. Not that I'm going to go buy some.
I've shot a few rolls of the stuff (Polapan and Polachrome).
Here's a look at the Polapan bw just after being processed:
Here's a direct scan of one frame:
I really dug the funky border.
Here's an example of the Polachrome that I some how screwed up (too little time developing probably):
I have a few more rolls of the stuff. The film (and chemicals) were already well out of date when I shot the examples above, so they're still sort of usable IMHO.
I used to like the PolaBlue, which creates a white-on-blue negative image. I'd project a negative on a surface, and then photograph that to get a cool-looking blue-and-white positive. I think I also liked to play with PolaGraph, which gave a high-contrast b+w postive.
The films were fun. The problem was the developing machine... they kept breaking. After one of them broke the *first* time I used it, I gave up on the films.
Perhaps I'll pull out my old slide files and see I have some examples to scan...
CK Dexter Haven
I've got a machine and some of the film. I should try to sell it, i suppose.
Anton Corbijn used to use Polachrome. He has a section in (at least) one of his books dedicated to it.
I never used it or saw one, but I remember that the big reason for using it, at least an important reason was for presentations that required security. Send your KodaChromes to the drugstore and you don't know what the competition will do. This way it was in house. Somewhat like a FireWall.
I used this a couple of times for some crazy rush jobs when it first came out, not worth the hassle. Thankfully my clients all agreed once the results were in. Ektachrome and two hours including the messengers was worth the wait.
I used some, liked the b&w, not so much the colour, just wasn't that useful to me. Same experience as most it appears!
I had a lot of fun with it actually. The color was meh. But I did get a few interesting portraits with it, and the B/W I really liked using. Especially the high contrast stuff.
Just something a bit different I guess.
It also saved my ass on a couple school projects I procrastinated on in college. :)
I used it for presentations - very tricky and as stated - exceedingly fragile. It also had the worst case of "banding" you can imagine when the processor acted up (which they did frequently). The PolaBlue was ok for quick graphs etc and the bl/w high speed worked - but again - extremely fragile emulsion and it you even looked at it in anger - it "blotched" or had streaks going through it.
Some years ago I had a fit and sorted through some old slide files - turns out that they dont age gracefully either. Fading, brown spots etc. Dumped them all out in the end.
(I love that second shot, Roger. Like they're sitting between giant loaves of bread.)
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