Just in the nick of time for the 2013 holiday season, the Impossible Project is rolling out new versions of their entire line of instant film. The packaging has been completely redone, and IP is now using a new naming system. What was previously known as PX 680 Color Shade/Color Protection has now been renamed simply ‘Color Film for 600.’
With the success of PX 680 Color Protection, I was curious to see how much IP would tinker with a winning formula. Luckily it appears that Color Film for 600 keeps everything that worked from the previous generation, and adds a few subtle refinements to keep improving an already excellent product.
Since PX 680 first came on the scene, it always featured wonderful color inaccuracies. If you look at the background of the image above, you’ll notice that a solid gray screen is full of pinks and greens. The color shifts never look wrong, but they’re definitely present. Personally, I love this effect, and it’s one of the reasons why I (dare I say it?) almost prefer this film to traditional Polaroid color film. It’s definitely more fun than the drab, normal colors of Fuji Instax, pretty much Impossible’s only direct competitor these days.
Otherwise, Color Film for 600 seems ever so slightly brighter and more contrasty than before. PX 680 Color Protection felt a bit ‘muted’ as a result of a brand new opacifier that clouded the mix. This generation corrects it and sharpness and tones all look great as long as light is good.
Edges sometimes have a slight blue haze, but there is no overall blue tint to be found. Blue was the bane of previous generations of Impossible color film, often taking over the entire image as it aged, so it’s good to see IP still has it under control.
Like all modern Impossible Project films, I didn’t have any problems with chemical leakage or defects marring the film. If you look stupid closely (or scan and look at the blown up image) you may notice that there are very, very tiny ‘break’ lines in the dark areas, but it’s nothing to worry about. While the image is developing you may notice white dots, but they go away after a few hours. Generally, I feel the best time to scan is about 15 hours or so after exposure.
One of the bigger complaints about the previous generation of film was that it took well over an hour to ‘develop’ with the new opacifier. IP touts that Color Film for 600 develops faster, claiming that it only takes 30 minutes in normal temperatures. From my experience, it still takes at least 40 minutes. It’s definitely not ‘instant’ by any stretch of the imagination, and I find myself always having to tell people who want to see new images to put the photo down and come back to it later. The slow develop time is inconvenient, but it’s better than
Said to develop faster than PX 680 Color Protection, approximately 30 minutes. Seems about the same as before: a really, really long time and over 30 minutes.
There is a slight variant of Color Film for 600 that’s called ‘Color Film for Impossible Cameras’ made for IP’s own hardware. Be careful not to accidentally pick it up, as even though it’s the exact same film, it will not work in 600 cameras. It features the same film as Color Film for 600, but doesn’t have a battery in it to power the camera. I have a feeling that people who don’t know what they’re looking at are going to accidentally get it since it’s ever so slightly cheaper, and be sorely disappointed when their camera doesn’t fire up.
The Impossible Project’s new naming system seems to signal that the company finally has a lineup of instant film that they are fully confident in. I imagine we’ll see few major overhauls over the next year or so, with iterations being limited to small tweaks. For those who want to continue Polaroid photography, I fully recommend this film. The days of needing to seek out expired Polaroid packs are long over.
In bright, outdoor conditions, I still recommend shielding the image from light when it first pops out of the camera. While it won’t completely blow out the image, it will reduce contrast. Also, since the film has a slightly higher ISO than traditional Polaroid 600 film, make sure you move the exposure compensation slider to approximately 1/3 stop darker.
Good luck and happy shooting!