Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Playing With Polachrome

OK, yes, it's another post about me playing with an expired film again. This is more than expired -- it's no longer produced. My friend Geoff Foster gave me a cassette and the processor cartridge of Polacolor 35mm film. It is a 35mm transparency film that was produced by Polaroid up until maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Before the days of Powerpoint, it was great to have a film that could be quickly processed to make slides for presentations, etc. Polaroid produced several high-contrast films for that purpose (I have shot a roll of Polablue film) for graphs and text, but Polacolor was intended for full-color rendition of a subject. At an ISO of 40 -- not a fast film and kind of grainy. As you'll see it has its own look.

According to the Land List:
* Film speed: ASA 40
* Color
* Sold in 12 and 36 exposure rolls.

NOTES: Polachrome is the technological successor to the Polavision instant movie system introduced in the late 1970's. [See the notes regarding Polavision Type 608 film for some details about how this film works.] By the way, one significant difference between Polachrome and Polavision film is the way the 'negative' is handled. [All Polaroid instant positive films involve a photographic negative somewhere, even if you don't normally see it.] With Polachrome, the negative is part of that black coating you can see on the film during loading. This black coating gets stripped away at the end of the development process, leaving just the positive transparency. The black coating (assuming it strips off the way it's supposed to) ends up back in the processing cartridge, which is then discarded. The old Polavision film, however, had both film and processing materials within the same self-contained package, so there was no way to 'discard' the negative after development. Therefore, Polavision film was designed so that the negative layer would simply remain on the film, but turn transparent after a short period of time. Apparently, this process wasn't quite perfect, and resulted in somewhat reduced contrast compared with the newer Polachrome film.

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I tried the film out today -- put the roll into my Minolta X-700 to give that camera some use for a change. I didn't know if the film had lost any sensitivity, but I shot it at and ISO of 40 just the same. This evening, I ran the film through the Polaroid Autoprocessor -- a box with cranks that winds the film along with its processing cartridge, and after about 2 minutes, the film was ready to take out and examine.

Unfortunately, the black backing (the negative) did not come off in the processor, so I ended up soaking the film in fixer for 5 minutes and then washing in water, and ran the film between my rubber-gloved fingers to pull the stuff away. It worked, but the emulsion is pretty soft, and I ended up scratching the transparency film. In any case, it was interesting to play with the film and the fact that I got anything at all was a complete surprise!

Here are some results:




13 comments:

Sigivald said...

Am I the only one who never had even the vaguest idea that Polaroid had made a 35mm film?

Anthony said...

ISO 40?!? Holy cow!

cassandra said...

can i ask you about this film? can you get it developed like a regular 35mm roll of film? i have a line on some of this film, and i was wondering if it was worth it to get it.

Mark said...

Cassandra --
One needs the Polaroid 35mm film processor - a self-contained unit that cranks the film through to process it. It can't be developed in any other way.

Not to be confused with some Polaroid-branded 35mm print film that showed up in places like Walmart. That was actually rebranded Ferrania 35mm C-41 print film.

the_wolf_brigade said...

I shot a roll of this recently and the emulsion (surprise surprise - the film expired in July 1991!) didn't come off. I still have 18 rolls left so I wondered if you had any suggestions? I came here via a search on flickr.

Would you recommend the fixer, or perhaps another method that would result in less scratches? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Risto H. said...

Hi! Just found a roll of this in the fridge - it was bought 1974 or so and expired 1986.. Cool to see that someone else has had this expiring as well :)

Arran said...

Thanks for posting this up. I just came across an autoprocessor and 6 rolls of film (5x Polagraph, 1x Polapan) for a few dollars the other day. I shot and just processed my first roll 10 minutes ago. The processing seemed to go ok, but the black backing didnt come off the film properly. I soaked and ran it through my fingers and it came off easily.
My film expired in 1986 :O
But it seems like some images came through on the film (im sure they'll look pretyt rough though). I'm waiting for it to dry now and will hopefully post some up on my site. I have no idea what to expect, but like you said, if anything comes out its bit of a surprise.
Cheers

Paul said...

If the backing doesn't come off the film just soaking it in water and then rubbing it off (or if you have a ridiculous amount of time to waste tweezing it off) works fine, you don't need fixer.

casey said...

Paul is absolutely right -- i just developed my first roll of this and was disappointed when it seemed to be a dud, but after reading this i soaked in water and the negative backing began to pull away immediately. it's true that one needs to be very gentle in order to take the negative off without scratching the emulsion -- even though i havent scanned yet i can see some scratches visible to the eye. but the development process clearly worked! i think i probably should have pushed the development time from the boiler plate 60 seconds suggested -- next time i'll probably double that and see what happens. i'll post my results after they're scanned! thanks for the useful post and comments.

Mark said...

Glad this was useful! I picked up some polachrome b&w last month - it was being tossed at work. Alas, it was all dried up, and didn't get a thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi I realize this was posted awhile ago...
I dont have the processing instructions... I have the film and the processing pack. How do I process? Please contact me at lupeismyname@gmail.com thank you

Mark said...

Unless you have the autoprocessor unit (http://www.insidedgw.com/episode-730/), you can't develop the film.

horia said...

Hello Mark, I've just processed a Polagraph few days ago and have the same issue with the black backing..I can see the photos, but don't want to ruin it..so I am asking if soaking in water is enough and if yes, should it be lukewarm water? and is it ok after a few days of developing it? Many thanks, Horia