Before the iconic square Polaroid SX-70 and 600 formats dominated popular imagination, there was packfilm.
Packfilm, or ‘peel-apart’ as it is often known, is one of the earliest instant film formats. Unlike 35mm and 120 negative and positive films, it didn’t require the use of a darkroom to develop the image. Simply peel it apart after shooting, and you have your picture.
Type 100 Packfilm could produce sharp, impressive images, and photographers used it with larger-format camera backs as well as with vintage Polaroid cameras. With a little love (and adapting an antique battery slot), one can still shoot a Type 100 camera like the Polaroid 340 with peel-apart film.
While Polaroid stopped producing packfilm ages ago, Fujifilm actually still made Type 100 in both color and monochrome variants that worked with many packfilm cameras, including Polaroid.
At least, it did.
It’s no surprise that Fuji would want to shut down production on a film format that’s been largely quiet for decades. The Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals) investigated picking up production, but nothing came of it. A brave new group that called themselves New55 produced a similar type of peel-apart film for 4×5 backs, but they didn’t have the capability to save Type 100.
Unfortunately, as of December 2017, New55 had to call it quits on even their 4×5 type peel-apart, ending production on one of the last kinds of ‘instant’ film still being produced outside of Fuji and Polaroid Originals.
As for Type 100, as of January 2018, B&H still has Fuji FP-100c in stock, but it’s only a matter of time before it expires and disappears. No new film is being produced by Fujifilm anymore.
Many vintage film cameras with formats that have long been forgotten can still be used with some creative respooling of 120 medium format film, but instant film is vastly more complex. With the impending disappearance of packfilm, decades worth of cameras will now be as useless as Kodamatics.
While these links still work, you can read more about peel-apart on New55’s blog and website, where they explain more of the reasoning why they were unable to continue, and what the future holds for the format.
So if you have a type 100 packfilm or peel-apart camera, get film and shoot it while you still can. I have several very old Polaroid cameras lying around that I’ve always wanted to shoot with, but it seems like the time has passed.
As instant film formats pass off into the land of discarded technology, it reminds us to never take for granted the ones we still use. With vintage film, we’re always a few old factory machines away from entire formats disappearing. Only the enthusiasm and care of our community can keep them alive.
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