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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Farewell, Polaroid

Another piece of childhood fades to black:

The Polaroid Company is shutting down factories in the U.S. and abroad as the company abandons the technology that made the instant photo possible. By next year, the film will no longer be produced by Polaroid. No word as of yet on whether anyone else has plans to continue it's production, or if there's even a small niche market for it somewhere.

When Polaroid users pulled a picture out of their cameras, an image would slowly appear before their eyes. Now, like the process in reverse, the image of the Polaroid instant camera -- dimming for years -- has finally gone black. The artsy, instantly gratifying Polaroid images, reeking of processing chemicals, have finally been done in by endless Flickr Web pages full of digital images, flawlessly produced by cameras that do not require film, emulsion or anything bigger than a shirt pocket to carry them around.

Polaroid introduced its instant camera in 1948. It's finely machined stainless steel body and black bellows made the Polaroid Land Camera look anything but modern. Its instant film came in roll. I still have two versions of the early model.

Polaroid moved to the more popular cartridge film in 1963 with its 100-series camera, which became a staple of professional photographers. They used the rugged Polaroid to take test photos, instantly checking lighting and composition before committing an image to negative. But the company's bbom and the Polaroid's place in pop culture came with the introduction of the SX-70 in 1972. This groovy camera, with its aluminum and faux-leather body, was perfect for a hedonistic decade that couldn't take enough pictures of itself.

In my retail management days, we were required to have an official store Polaroid camera to quickly record accident scenes and such. With my Cannon Power Shot digital, I can damn near have the pictures on my computer faster than waiting for one of the old Polaroids to develop. But, as far I've noted, sniffing your digital camera does absolutely nothing for you. Some things from the 70's just can't be replaced. . .

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Blogger Stan Matuska said...

Sniff, sniff. It's sad to see the good ol' technology go to the wayside.

I still think the Polaroid is still usefull, but I'm sure the sales have down to nothing.

Suppose I need a part to fit my range, so I just take a Polaroid of it to take to the hardware store. Nice and easy. Ok, that's a hair color, but that's beside the point. If I took a digital photo, I then need to download it, and print it out. That's the downfall of digital cameras vs. Polaroid cameras. I have hundreds, maybe thousands of digital pictures, but how many of them are actually printed images? Practically none of them.

Well, I suppose you could add it to the dustbowl in the attic next to the Atari, record player and VHS player.

title="comment permalink">February 09, 2008 5:02 PM  
Blogger Omnipotent Poobah said...

It is sad to see it go. I guess all those people shooting nudie pictures of each other on the sly can just video everything without anyone knowing.

The march of progress continues.

title="comment permalink">February 09, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Human said...

I remember taking pictures of snowy days with a Polaroid. On cold days we had to put the pic between this silvery flap thing, then put it under the arm to develop.

title="comment permalink">February 12, 2008 5:47 PM  

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