Recently I’ve had a few readers write in and ask how long it is safe to stockpile Impossible Project film. While I have no scientific tests on the subject, according to my experience one should shoot their IP film within 6 months of when it was made for the best results.
Because Impossible Project instant film is rather expensive, I used to jump on every sale they had to save some money by purchasing all the film I needed for the year at once. I used Polaroid film that was ten years old with no problem, I figured I could do the same with IP’s film.
However, I noticed that after five to six months, I started to get all sorts of weird defects and exposure errors as the film aged. Ultimately, stockpiling ended up costing me more in the long run as entire packs were ruined. The Impossible Project films just don’t have a stable enough chemistry to survive that long.
Now I buy just as much film as I need directly from the Impossible Project store right before a project. It costs more with shipping and not taking advantage of sales, but I know I can always depend on the film and get the best results out of every photo. Be careful when buying Impossible Project film from third parties, often their film is much older than what you get from the Impossible Project’s store. You might end up getting film that is already well past its prime. Luckily, you can always check the date that the film was made on the box.
If you do find yourself with a lot of Impossible Project film on your hands that you can’t shoot right away, be sure to store it in a refrigerator. This will preserve the chemicals better than leaving it sitting out in room temperature environments. Just be sure not to accidentally freeze the film. Take it out at least an hour before shooting so it has time to adjust and you’re good to go!