I Should Have Invested in Polaroid


Now I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t Polaroid go under some time back?

Well, yes…but that’s not exactly what I mean. Perhaps I should be more explicit: I should have invested in Polaroid film.

Let me start from the beginning. A few weeks ago there was a thread going on in a forum I frequent concerning yet another group attempting to reverse or re-engineer Polaroid’s Instant Film technology (that makes 3 so far?). As usual, the thread quickly declined into lamenting over lost emulsions, posting of scanned Polaroids from the past, jokes about 1970′s-1980s style based on those photos, and complaining about Fuji instant films (i.e. no SX-70 equivalent and they are useless for transfers). Of course, things were broken up on occasion by a member of the digital evangelist legion, bragging about how digital is the death nail of all things film and Polaroid was simply the first victim of the digital steamroller, somehow missing the point that the discussion was about artistic mediums and not technology…

…and then I entered the fray, mentioning that I had an unused pack of Polaroid 665 black & white positive/negative film still sitting unused in my fridge and had no way to use it since I sold off the RB67 and back it was destined for long ago in lieu of some 4×5 gear.

I’ll trade you my Schneider Angulon 90mm lens for it.

Sure, why not? I no longer have a camera and back for it, plus I could always use something a little wider for my Crown Graphic.

Wait.

A lens for a pack of film? Granted, Polaroid film packs have never been cheap, but…really?

I pulled the box out of my fridge and looked at the tag. US$18.99. Add in the 8.25% sales tax (it was bought at Freestyle Photo in Los Angeles, CA), and that’s still only US$20.56. It was only purchased maybe 3-4 years ago, so it’s too young to have any “classic” or “antique” value to it. It’s worth a lens? Well, maybe a low-end Jupiter-8…with some fungus…and element separation… . Is this lens really that cheap?

Internet powers, activate! Form of eBay and a search box!

Wow.

180 bucks.

Really?

Well, it’s not expensive, but it’s above the level of any of the Ukrainian lenses. Not that I am dissing Ukranian lenses at all. I have a Jupiter-8 and an Industrar-61, both of which I enjoy very much.

Now for the other half of the equation.

Internet powers, activate! Form of Google and a query!

Not surprisingly, there isn’t a ton of information out there on Polaroid 665 film and even less on it’s current monetary value. The best I could find were a number of “sold out” listings. Lowball prices have hovered around US$50 and the highest I’ve seen have been around US$200, but since the film is, in practical terms, non-existent, I’m guessing that none of these pages have been updated in some time. This being the case, let’s give Polaroid 665 an almost arbitrary value of US$125. That seems fair, based on the wide spectrum of pricing I’ve seen and considering that the film is bordering on extinction.

That’s right. Think about the money you invested in blue chip stocks like GM or GE 3-4 years ago and what it’s worth now. Think about if, instead, you’d converted that investment into packs of 665 film. At US$20 per share…err… “pack”, that initial investment would have seen an increase of 625%!

That’s one year of college paying off college AND grad school. That’s a hostel trip to Paris becoming a European tour with a few stops in Asia on the way back home.

*sigh*

Hindsight.


About Brian Webb

Brian Q. Webb is a photography enthusiast from Los Angeles, California who spends most of his time in Taipei, Taiwan. He is especially interested in street photography as well as large format portraiture and pinhole photography. He also likes to shoot lifestyle portraiture and occasionally acts as an agent for foreign newspapers wanting event coverage in Taipei. He was also on the staff of deviantArt and is co-founder of PhotoMalaysia, the largest photography community in that country.

  • http://hungryintaipei.com joanh

    yeah.. i unearthed some old packs of my polaroid film (600 i think) to use at a party and was sad to find that they definitely were not as “fresh” as before..the colored were very faded after taking the picture. I didn’t keep it in the fridge- does that help a lot? that’s the bad thing about overstocking.. i’m now suckered into buying the fuji instamax

  • Brian

    Polaroids don’t store well, especially out in the open. The best you can do is refrigerate them. Freezing them destroys ‘em. :-(

    Harman (the company that produces Ilford film products) should have some 600 films out soon and there are a couple of other companies working on it too, so hopefully you won’t be stuck with only Fuji in the future.

    I hope someone makes a good 4×5 Polaroid film so I can start doing transfers again.

  • Eugene

    Wonder do my polaroid b/w is worth that much too..

  • http://www.photojazz.ws Brian Webb

    @Eugene Well, 655 film was discontinued a year before the color version and a couple years before the rest of Polaroid films. It’s also a special type that produces both a re-usable negative in addition to the Instant positive.

    BTW, I originally intended to put this into the RB67 /w/ Polaroid back I sold to you but changed my mind at the last minute…it had just been discontinued and my mind was suddenly filled with “One day I’ll think of a proper project…” thoughts. :lol:

  • http://iconla.blogspot.com Joe

    I work at a lab and we’re selling a stockpile of 665. Luckily, prices are nowhere near where they were last year. Maybe people are starting to forget?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260589516540&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT

  • http://www.photojazz.ws Brian

    @Joe It’s probably because this year Ilford-Harman and the Impossible Project started selling their Polaroid replacements this year.