The Polaroid Image System

I recently acquired a Polaroid Image Première camera and have been having lots of fun with it.
The Polaroid Image System (known as Spectra in North America) was a new integral film format introduced by Polaroid in the 80s. Its main distinguishing feature is a wide image format instead of the square format of the popular 600 series. The Polaroid Image System also offered more features and better build quality than the 600 series. My particular camera has a 125mm f10 lens, an ultrasonic autofocus system, focus display in feet or meters, a 10 second self -timer, autofocus on/off, autoflash on/off and exposure compensation +/- 1.5 stops.
very expired filmEven though the Image System is more "professional" than most of the other Integral Polaroid cameras, it is still essentially a fully automatic camera. That said, once you learn how the camera operates, you can coax it into doing what you want most of the time. When you press the shutter button halfway, the camera meters at and autofocuses on an area in the center of the frame. Since this camera is a viewfinder, not an SLR, you can only tell if you have correct exposure/focus by reading the display line. A green light indicates exposure is good and a number is displayed to tell you the focus distance. If you want to focus on something that is not in the middle of the frame you can press the shutter half-way and then reframe. If you are working with a bright background or a spotlight situation you can use thebeautiful DOF, beautiful wife. exposure compensation switch. One thing that is a little strange is that the camera always flashes to some degree unless the flash is turned off.

In my opinion, the best thing about this kind of instant film is the size of the format. It is a medium format camera with an image area larger than the average (9.2 x7.3cm), which means you get great amount of detail. At this point I am limited by the resolution of my scanner and not the film. You can also achieve really beautiful shallow depth-of-field in the right situations.

This particular model of camera also has a trick that allows multiple exposures by engaging the self-timer. The film won't come out until you flip the self-timer switch back. If you close the camera half-way, the timer is re-engaged and the camera will expose the film again. You can see examples of multi-exposure here and here.

As opposed to the 600 series, which built special features into single-function camera, the Image System had many accessories built for it. The kit I bought came with a special effects filter set.
Now the big question: What film do you use with this thing? A few years ago I would have not bought this camera, because I would have feared that the film would soon cease to be available. That is different now thanks to The Impossible Project, who is manufacturing new film for integral polaroid cameras. In fact, when I got this camera, Impossible didn't make any Image/Spectra film. They only offered expired original Polaroid film, of which I bought several packs. I didn't know if or when they would produce new film for my camera. Thankfully they announced about 2 weeks ago that they have manufactured their first batch of PZ 600 Silvershade for Image/Spectra cameras. My first two packs just arrived. I look forward to them producing their new Colorshade film for this system as well.

Just a few years ago the future of instant film was doomed. Now it seems we are at a new beginning.


All Polaroids in this post were taken with either the very expired film that was with the camera when I bought it or the more recently expired Polaroid Image film from The Impossible Project.

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