Getting started in the world of instant film can be intimidating. There are all different kinds of companies and formats involved, many of which are completely incompatible with each other. One format floating around that may seem a bit harder to grasp than the rest is something called Polaroid ‘I-Type’ film and cameras.
In short, I-Type film is a new format made by Polaroid Originals (now simply ‘Polaroid’ after a recent rebranding) that only works with new Polaroid cameras. However, the film itself is the same as classic 600 square frame vintage Polaroid.
Confused? Let’s start with a bit of recent history.
Jump back to 2008, and the company we all know and love as Polaroid declared an end to their famous 600 square-frame line of instant film. There was immediately a public outcry. Even though digital was clearly becoming the future of photography, there were still many artists and photographers out there who loved the instant analog film format. An organization calling itself the Impossible Project stepped up to start creating new film for the old Polaroid cameras from scratch. Over the years, they were successful, and they created new 600, SX-70, Spectra, and large format Polaroid-style film that worked in vintage Polaroid cameras.
Simple enough. New film for old cameras. However, the Impossible Project wasn’t done yet. It wanted to make new Polaroid-style cameras to use its new 600 type film. Now, one thing to keep in mind about traditional old-school Polaroid is that the cameras are powered by a battery in the film cartridge rather than the camera. That’s why any vintage Polaroid camera without a cartridge of film (or a very old one) will appear dead and useless.
If you think every single pack of Polaroid film containing its very own disposable battery seems wasteful and expensive… well… you’re right. It is.
That’s why when the Impossible Project created their own 600 type Polaroid camera, they put a rechargeable battery in it. Instead of depending on the film pack’s battery, it would supply its own electricity. To go along with this, the Impossible Project created a new variant of their 600 type film called ‘I-Type’ (Impossible – I – I-Type, get it?) that was exactly the same as 600 but used a cartridge that didn’t have a battery. This allowed the ‘I-Type’ film to be cheaper and less wasteful than 600. I-type film comes in both monochrome and color variants, just like 600.
The first I-Type camera was the I-1, a super ambitious, yet flawed camera. All I-Type cameras can still use 600 film, including (if you somehow have it) vintage Polaroid 600 film from before 2008, it’ll just ignore the battery and use its own. However, 600 type cameras like the vintage Polaroid Impulse AF, cannot use I-Type because there’s no battery to power the camera.
That’s the only difference between I-Type and 600 film – the presence of the battery.
The Impossible Project rebranded itself as Polaroid Originals, then to Polaroid, but kept the name ‘I-Type’ around. It also went ahead and (as of summer 2020) released three new I-Type cameras, the Now, OneStep 2, and the OneStep+. Both of these cameras can use I-Type film, Polaroid Originals 600 film, and vintage Polaroid 600 film.
I-Type cameras do not work with SX-70 or Spectra film. They also don’t work with any peel-apart films from Fuji that are made for very old vintage Polaroid cameras. Also, no Polaroid or Polaroid Originals camera works with Fuji Instax instant film.
(For those who are really in the know, technically the shell company that is now Polaroid made a line of rebranded Fuji Instax Mini cameras but lets pretend that never happened, shall we?)
So, in a nutshell, I-Type Polaroid Originals film is the same as 600 Polaroid Originals film, only I-Type doesn’t have a battery and is cheaper. That’s why it says ‘not for vintage Polaroid cameras’ on the package.
Clear as mud, right? Welcome to the messy fun of analog photography!
You can purchase Polaroid I-Type film directly from Polaroid. Using affiliate links helps me keep this site online and costs you nothing, I appreciate it!
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