Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Polaroid abandons instant film "

from theapp.appstate.edu - by JACQUELINE SCOTT

In its time, Polaroid was a wonder of instant film.

In seconds, the camera dispensed a picture that gradually came to life minutes after.

Polaroid eliminated the hassle and wait for prints to come back from a drugstore.

According to The New York Times, however, Polaroid announced in February it would abandon its instant photography.

Polaroid Corporation shut down two Massachusetts film-manufacturing facilities and laid off over 150 workers, according to the Times article.

Almost two years ago, the production of instant cameras ceased due to a decline in sales.

"The Polaroid image is one that is distinct from any other type of image," senior technical photography major Tim J. Davin said. "It just has a different quality to it and there is something fun about being able to physically hold the photograph as it develops, something digital can't do."
News of the instant film abandonment led to the launch of SavePolaroid.com and several Facebook petition groups.

In efforts to boost sales, Polaroid plans to change its name by branding its name on Zink photo printers, flat-panel televisions, and digital photography gear.

"If it kept producing instant film, then it would make sense to keep the name," assistant professor of technology Mark L. Malloy said. "If they decide otherwise, they should cease using the name Polaroid, as it is synonymous with instant photographs via instant film."

Malloy said Polaroid is as much a descriptive term as it is a proper name.

"Look in the dictionary or thesaurus and you'll see it listed as both a noun and an adjective," Malloy said.

Davin works with digital and film-based media.

"One of my main interests involves the use of large format cameras and without the continuation of Polaroid, I will have to rely on making multiple exposures of one shot or running the risk of just shooting one shot for each setup and hoping that it comes out okay," Davin said.

"Without Polaroid, photographers are in a quandary," he said. "Trusting that the film will come out perfect isn't generally a safe practice without checking because of the unforgiving nature of film."

Davin said many clients look at a digital picture and a digital scan of film and tend to pick the film over the digital image.

"Digital technology still is not able to reproduce the intricate nuances of film."

Similarly, Malloy uses Polaroid in his work for relative predictability and the possibility for random imperfections, he said.

"In graduate school, I did my entire thesis project on Polaroid materials," Malloy said. "I used it for it's beautiful, tonal range and the way the image seemed to break up at the edges of film."

In the technological push of the 21st century, 'instant' photography stopped being instant enough for most people.

"Many households now have one or more digital cameras, which are 'instant' in the sense that they can shoot a picture, look at it, and plug it into a printer or computer to print it – essentially a Polaroid, " Davin said.

Polaroid is interested in licensing its technology to an outside firm that could continue to manufacture film for loyal Polaroid customers, according to The Boston Globe.

"In a very large part, society won't care nor will the march towards a digital future be slowed in the slightest by this unfortunate decision," Malloy said.

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