Trivia

Hard

The Majority Of Expired Vintage Polaroid Film Cartridges Fail Because Of?

Film Oxidation
DRM Chip Decomposition
Light Leaks
Dead Batteries
Photo of a Polaroid Sun Autofocus 660 instant camera, circa 1987.
Jonathan Mauer/Wikimedia

Answer: Dead Batteries

Film certainly has an expiration date, but typically, the date at which you can use the film without issues (assuming it has been stored at or below room temperature and not exposed to radiation) is significantly longer than the date printed on the box or cartridge. Instant-developing vintage Polaroid film is no exception.

What many people didn’t realize during the heyday of the Polaroid film craze, and today’s photographers playing around with vintage Polaroid equipment have to grapple with, however, is that vintage Polaroid film cartridges rarely fail because the film is too old, but because the battery inside died. You see, unlike most cameras wherein the battery is stored in the camera itself, vintage Polaroid cameras don’t have batteries, but instead, every film cartridge came with a tiny battery that had just enough juice in it to power the camera for the ten film squares in the cartridge.

Because the original Polaroid brand film is no longer produced, aficionados of the format will go to great lengths to preserve the old film and use it today. This includes working in totally blacked out rooms (without even a dim red photographer’s lamp on) to remove the old film from its original cartridge and transplant it into a donor cartridge with a working battery.

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