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February 26, 2008

Will You Miss Polaroid's Instant Film?

Recently we learned Polaroid will stop producing its instant film for their iconic Polaroid cameras. This was inevitable as the company stopped making the instant camera years ago. The hope is someone, somewhere, will acquire the licensing rights to continue producing the instant film. But that likelihood seems slim given today's digital dominance.

Digital photography has its many advantages, but so does Polaroid’s instant photography. Geno Church from Brains on Fire is lamenting the loss of Polaroid instant film. For various marketing projects, Geno uses Polaroid instant film to capture a moment and immediately share that moment with others. Geno writes … “I’m a techy-geek type, but I’ve always liked the instant and open development of the photo. I’ve always thought that a Polaroid captured the moment in an authentic, fun way.”

All this begs one of those “Would You Miss?” questions


Did Polaroid’s instant pictures provide such a unique product and customer experience that we will be sad when it ceases to exist? Did Polaroid’s instant pictures forge such unfailing emotional connections with its customers that they would fail to find another instant camera that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?

What say you?

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Miss it? I didn't even know it was still around till the other day. It was fun back in the 70's (when I used it, I know it was around a lot longer) but Polaroids have always seemed blurry, dark. I think the concept is still sort of viable but will have to be a mini printer technology coupled with a digital camera and I don't think we are quite there yet, especially with the crazy costs of printer inks.

I think it's a lot cooler we have devices like the iPhone that double as a camera and a portable photo album where paper is not needed at least for showing somebody something right away.

Yes I will miss it. Even today, Polaroids provided a very special "look" that is hard if not impossible to replicate in all-digital workflows.

I know the security company I work PT for will miss it. They use it to instantly document discovered property damage and assist customers by providing pictures of automobile accidents that happen on property.

They'll probably switch to digital but it will be less efficient since I can guarentee they won't provide every account a computer and printer.

I think I would miss it about once every five years. Those 'onces' being when I wish I could up my cool status and show up to a friends place with said Polaroid Camera in hand.

As long as they keep producing kiddy camera's the do just about the same thing, my cool status will remain intact. Or perhaps I've sacrificed that imagined status through this comment?

I would not miss Polaroid.

Well, as a former commercial photog who cranked off quite a lot of Polaroid transfers back in the day, yes, if I were still shooting, I'd miss it. While there are Photoshop tricks that can re-create the look, the fact is each transfer was a unique piece of art, something that's gone forever now.

I'll miss it as much as my VCR, Typewriter and 8 Track.

Death to Polaroid!

And by thw way, when was the last Time Polaroid did a freakin SWOT analysis for God's sake?

For sentimental reasons I will miss gathering around and watching the picture develop before our eyes. It was an event. It was very cool to see the black image turn from muted tones to vivid colors of your 5th birthday in the backyard - the one where you got a Spiderman that had a retractable web that your brother broke while you were slaving away at school (maybe that was just me). There’s just something communal and pure about that process that I will miss.

I won't miss it for snapshots. However, Polaroid made many specialty films (and cameras!) used for scientific and other special applications - high contrast, low light, etc. A product called Type 660 in particular I use. It's not clear if those are also being discontinued.

See for more info.

All that's needed to replace it is a portable digital camera printer. Take your picture, print it, share it.

Yes, watching the photo develop before your eyes is nice...but when you get a special Christmas moment, it is ruined by a poor quality photo:

I was really hoping to use the picture for extra embarrassment in 10 years, but I guess not.

I could be late on photographic technology innovation, but I think there is room for this concept to reinvent itself in today's world. What if there was a camera that could quickly print 4" x 6" photos, and possibly "in the moment" postcards?

I often find myself taking digital photos that I never do anything with. If there were an instant print feature on a well-designed digital camera, I believe there would be a market for it.

I will not miss the technology and the camera, but I will miss the concept.

And by thw way, when was the last Time Polaroid did a freakin SWOT analysis for God's sake?

ha ha, good question!

anyway, no i won't miss it. polaroids were fun, but extremely expensive and ultimately not a good value. but lots of emo girls i hung out with in the early 90s loved them.

Good riddance! The chemical mess, the trash... I'm a photographer who cares about the environment, and I've always hated the Polaroid process! Plus the quality has always been poor. You can do test prints with a digital camera and portable printer.

I will miss polaroid, and am truly saddened by this news. It feels like a special part of the universe is being lost forever

There are some brands where it should be illegal for them to discontinue! Oh come on! It is nostalgic!

This is probably in preparation of their new product Zink.

Here are some ideas. Might be completely wrong, but just want to be thought-provoking!


There is definetly some story to be told in the Polaroid's instant Film. I think they should keep it up not as a way of making lots of money from this particular product but just as a way of lending to the story of the brand, overall.


In fact it could even be possible to make money out of this particular product. Think of the way Mini and The Beatle cars are still around in more-a-less the same looking old-fashioned design (The Beatle is over 60 years old, I believe) but with new engines. The Polaroid could do something similar to this.
As someone who believes in brand stories, I think there is a lot Polaroid can do with this product.


And a lot of people are not into gadgets and just like the uncomplicated way that the Polaroid works. A great thing to have at a party for example. In fact gadgety stuff can really go against the whole atmosphere of having fun at a party. In fact, gadgety people often like simple, old fashioned gadgets as well.

- I think that if the manufacturers kind of blended the above 3 points together they might be on to something. Something in which the Polaroid instant, itself, could make money, as well as just making people in general, aware of the Polaroid brand - that it is more than just technologyy(although technology is important) that there is a story behind the brand etc ..

Reading some of the comments here reminds me a bit of Marmite: love it or hate it. Certainly, in some cases, it is better to be talked about than not be talked about at all. Polaroid are going to lose all of that, and I don't see how they are suddenly going to be talked about in a way that Cannon, Nokia and other popular camera manufacturers are talked about.

Do we need the film? Absolutely not. I haven't even thought about it in years. However, the experience and anticipation of watching the picture develop is unlike any other experience. There is an awkward romance to it. I hope someone does continue to make the film on the off chance that someday I will want it again.

At a pound a picture polaroid film is way too expensive for me to use regularly, but if it were cheaper, i'd buy it often. The photos have character and atmosphere completely lacking from digital, and the immediacy makes them more satisfying than ordinary film photography, in my opinion. Polaroid are foolish; their product is pretty much iconic, just way too expensive for casual use. yes it's old fashioned, but there is definitely a market in old fashioned; can't think of any brands which cater to that at the moment.

Quite nicely written actually, i like it. :)


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