UPDATE: As of late 2013, this film is no longer sold by the Impossible Project, but strangely enough, the older UV+ variants are. However, if you want it still, your only bet will be eBay.
The PX 600 Silver Shade Cool film continues where UV+ left off, with true black and white rather than sepia tones of older Impossible Project monochrome film. Unlike its color brother PX 680 Cool, I don’t recommend paying its current premium price to use it over older monochromatic films. Every aspect of this film is wonderful except for one glaring defect that I ran into after scanning: the photo is completely filled with minuscule white dots.
I scan my instant film at very high resolutions in order to reprint and manipulate the images, and when I scanned in my first batch of PX 600 Cool I kept scratching my head as to why there were white dots appearing everywhere. Sure enough, on the image were minuscule dots barely noticeable to the eye in real life, but glaringly obvious on the scan. Checking back on previous generations, I found that UV+ had a few dots, but not many, and there were none in any of the sepia generations.
By no means does this make PX 600 Cool a bad film, as it has many outstanding characteristics. However, it seems like a step back from previous generations, as the Color Shade films have steadily been getting rid of irregular textures rather than introducing new ones. To make sure it wasn’t just an isolated defect, I looked on Flickr and confirmed it is a widespread phenomenon. It’s hard to see on the small image below, but you can easily see the dots on higher res versions of the image.
Speaking of cool, If you’re wondering why they call it that (I was), I’ve been told it’s because the Impossible Project wants to encourage people to take care of their film by refrigerating it. To this end, the box has a temperature activated strip on the side that says ‘keep me cool’. When refrigerated it turns blue, otherwise out in the wild it’s white. This isn’t really that big of a deal or actually all that useful, but it’s a nifty little detail. It is a good sign that Impossible is encouraging people to refrigerate their film though, as IP films tend to change dramatically under different conditions.
Like nearly all modern Impossible Project films, build quality isn’t a problem. I haven’t encountered any leaking chemicals or any undeveloped spots on the edge of the frame. After being so used to using black frame UV+, it’s taken me some getting used to going back to the white border. The black frames really do look better for monochrome film. Image durability is outstanding, as I purposely left my developed images in warm, moist areas to see if they would show any change. As of a few weeks after exposure, the images remain exactly as I left them.
Unless you want the texture from the white dots, or in the future the cool films are discounted, I would skip it for now. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is much older generation film left, so by the time you read this it might be the only thing left. If that’s the case, don’t sweat it, if you want black and white instant film it’s fantastic. I’m just picky, and if you ask me, the wildly unpredictable PX 600 First Flush is still my personal favorite of them all. IP, if you’re reading, please keep around some form of the sepia toned generations!