best possible instant film camera to acquire in 2013..


TPF Noob!
Jan 10, 2013
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I've been reading about instant film cameras and wow is it a complicated subject and history.

there's the discontinued production of polaroid film, apparently fuji has discontinued ?certain or all? instant film, and the impossible project's film seems too rough and unreliable.

there's the apparent flagship model of polaroid's, the sx-70, where the 680 and 690 seem to be the best. doesn't seem like fuji or kodak ever topped these cameras.

then there's polaroid backs, which i can find no history of. did polaroid specially make these backs? other companies? are all polaroid backs taken off of previously used polaroid cameras? is there only a certain list of cameras these backs can be put on, or are the possibilities endless? there's holga backs, hasselblad backs, mamiya backs, graflex backs, i think another brand i can't think of at the moment.

my question is basically the title of this post, but i should clarify a few things. well i basically have three questions.

1) what is the best camera, or camera with back, ever made that can use instant film in terms of manual features? that is to say, which camera in terms of different shutter speeds, aperture control, manual and/or auto focus, flash, etc.

2) what is the best instant film ever made in terms of best photo quality/chemical process?

3) this is my main question, which could vary from the answers to questions 1 and 2. let's say i want to use the best instant film available in 2013 which can be most likely assumed to continue being made. what camera and/or back with what film (that is made in 2013 and will continue being made) would produce the highest quality instant photographs?

Hopefully there's some polaroid freaks out there. There's a lot of parameters to consider to answer these questions, and I think it would take me hours of research to answer them myself.

I'm also open to the best possible instant film camera with back that uses the best instant film that is NO LONGER made. that is if it's worth it, to possibly buy the film in bulk from someone who hopefully's kept it in the freezer. that's why i asked question 2 on its own. and even if the answers to these questions would be quite expensive, it'd still be interesting to know if i ever have that kind of money lying around. i can always get the polaroid big shot in the mean time!

Thanks in advance!


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Nov 26, 2012
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Hi ftngrave - it depends on what you want to do. Way back "Before Digital", Polaroid backs on pro medium format film cameras like Hasselblads and Mamiyas were used for test shots to preview lighting and composition - because, unlike today, there was no way to see what the picture was going to look like in advance. These were not high quality pictures and were generally thrown away after the real film back was put on the camera.

The SX70, 600 series and other consumer Polaroid cameras that I've forgotten the name of, were pretty good for what they were - consumer snapshot cameras with instant processing. Some people turned these photos into art - but it wasn't very high resolution art :)

If I were starting out in instant photography today, I would get a little Holga plastic camera with a $180 Polaroid back and some Fuji 100 film for $8 for 10 exposures.

If you absolutely have to go retro, it won't cost that much to get a used SX70 for $65 and try a pack of Impossible PX70 for $30 to see if it works for you.

The best deal for the new 300 (business card sized) film is the Fuji Instax system. You can get the camera for $63 and a 2 pack of 10 exposure film for $14.

Hope this is helpful and good luck going back to "shaking it like a Polaroid picture"!


Helen B

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Sep 16, 2007
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Hell's Kitchen, New York
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The best instant film camera in my opinion is the Mamiya Press Universal. It uses 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 instant pack film, and fills the whole frame, unlike most medium format cameras with instant backs. There was usually nothing wrong with the image from medium format cameras with instant backs (those Zeiss lenses on Hasselblads and Rolleis can sometimes form a passable image), but it was a little small (the same format as the normal film that would be used in the camera). The Press Universal goes further than that, because it can cover the whole frame, if the two correct lenses are used - the 127 mm and the 75 mm. These both have a 'P' in their name to signify that they covered the full Polaroid. Fuji still make two films for these backs, and they are fairly likely to do so for a while - the film is used in a lot of scientific cameras. FP-3000B, a 3000-speed B&W film and FP-100C, a 100-speed color film (the speeds are not given in ISO values, but they are directly equivalent - there is no ISO standard for instant film speed). They are both good quality - better than the old Polaroid equivalents.

You can also use the same size film with a 4x5 camera, with the correct back. You can also use 8x10 instant film in an 8x10 camera, though the film is rather expensive, and not fantastic quality (some people like the funky things). I use instant film in a 4x5 camera both as a final image in itself and for proofing for reversal film (which I still shoot commercially). With the other two formats the instant image is the end result. I don't proof with it.

I use all three of the above. The great thing about those options is that the cameras themselves can be used with other sensitive media, such as conventional 120, 4x5 or 8x10 film, photo paper, or even wet plate for the latter two.

Here's a converted Polaroid 110B I often use with the Fuji pack film:


Keep an eye on the New55 Project. They may be making a new version of 4x5 instant sheet film available again. That would make 4x5 cameras even more desirable as instant cameras.

Here is an example of an image made on FP-100C, using a 4x5 camera and Cooke PS945 9" f/4.5 lens at f/5.6:

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TPF Noob!
Apr 16, 2013
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I agree that polaroid backs for medium format camera is the best result if you want instant quality gratification.

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