The Polaroid experts at Brooklyn Film Camera have teamed up with the stunning film photography product designers at Negative Supply to create and sell a new instant film processor. This product, unsurprisingly called the Instant Processor, is a light-tight, temperature-controlled box which provides an ideal development environment for Polaroid and Instax instant film.
The teaser site for the product is launching today at 3PM (along with this article), after which a Kickstarter for the product itself will launch in the near future. Copy from the Instant Processor site aptly describes the form and function of the Instant Processor –
“Give your images the optimal ingredients to come to life by providing them a temperature-controlled, light-tight developing environment no matter where you go. From cold, snowy mountains to warm, sandy beaches to unpredictable, bustling studios. When your images eject from the camera, simply slide them in and the Instant Processor will ensure that they develop beautifully every time; shielded from light, safe from dirt and debris, and in a temperature-optimized chamber.
Brooklyn Film Camera and Negative Supply have developed a product that functionally and handsomely solves the problems that instant photographers face. Provide yourself the security of a perfect polaroid every time.“
A Chat with the Creators
Kyle Depew from Brooklyn Film Camera and Saxon McClamma from Negative Supply reached out to me recently to see if we’d like to cover the product launch on Casual Photophile. I sat down and played devil’s advocate, asking the questions which I thought our readers would be most likely to ask. Kyle and Saxon were gracious enough to send over some thorough answers, which I’ll add here for your digestion.
James : Could you provide some further insight into the final product as it is currently envisioned?
Kyle from BFC : “The Instant Processor is a tool for Polaroid and Instax photographers to have in their bag (or their studio) and it solves three problems. The first is temperature sensitivity. Polaroids are very sensitive to temperature for around five minutes after exposure. If they develop in a cold environment, they will take on cool tones (blues, greens) and if they develop in a warm environment, they will take on warm tones (reds, oranges). Polaroid film is designed to perform best between 55-82 °F (13-28 °C). The Instant Processor allows you to set the temperature of your choice, reaches temp quickly, can hold up to 16 images at a time (final number may change as we approach production), and provides a constant and reliable temperature while your photos develop.
The second problem is light sensitivity. Polaroids are verrrry sensitive to ambient light and ideally want to develop in total darkness. Casual users currently flip them upside down while processing or toss them in a pocket, etc. These methods generally work fine enough but the Instant Processor ensures that they will not bend in a pocket or bag, and that the images will be in total darkness for the duration of their development.
The last (and least pressing) problem is dust and debris. The internal chamber’s only access point is through the image slot and will eliminate unwanted dust or debris from getting in and scratching the surface of the images.
Saxon from Negative Supply : One big thing we’ve focused on is battery life. We wanted it to be a device you could use throughout a day of shooting, and not be weighed down by spare batteries. We haven’t finalized the type of battery that will be used, but we do understand the needs of working photographers and will be taking that into consideration.
James : I know that development conditions, specifically light and temperature, have been a big problem for instant film users since the advent of the technology decades ago. Since Polaroid’s bankruptcy in 2008 and subsequent resurrection by The Impossible Project, Polaroid photography has been a mixed bag as far as image quality and reliability is concerned. It sounds like a product like the Instant Processor could help improve both final image quality and the “hit rate” when shooting instant photos. Are there other products like the Instant Processor on the market? Has there every been?
Kyle : “We think it’s crazy that there’s never been a product-based solution for these issues. Look here at Polaroid’s official FAQ response to the problem of blue/green photos and you’ll see that they have always recommended that users put developing images inside of their coats! Nothing wrong with that, but it depends greatly where exactly the user puts their developing images, how well it’s heated, whether it gets overheated if placed too close to (or on) skin, etc. I’ve had images process red in winter because I accidentally overheated them in my armpit and I’ve had images placed in internal jacket pockets come out green because that particular pocket wasn’t as warmed as I thought.
We felt a well-crafted product solution to this problem was really needed. Something for instant photographers to keep in their bag while on the move, or in the studio during shoots.
James : Who do you see this product fitting? Why should people need/want/buy the Instant Processor?
Saxon : Negative Supply designs and manufactures our products here in Ventura County, California. We take pride in employing photographers and creatives, and each and every member of our team has an influence on the design of our products. Our goal long term is to continue innovating and building products to support analogue users, while creating jobs in the manufacturing sector at a scale that allows us to be agile and nimble. This has allowed us over the past year to create niche products for users that may not otherwise have been possible with larger companies. As with our other products, the Instant Processor will have an aluminum top plate with precision CNC machined parts made specifically for durability and strength. The sides of the device are made from a custom aluminum extrusion, and give the device rigidity, without sacrificing a lightweight frame.
Kyle : This tool is for instant photographers who want to ensure that each shot develops as optimally as possible. While it would be an excellent tool for any instant photographer to have in their kit to bring along on casual shoots, this is an absolute essential piece of gear for photographers to use on more intentional shoots in which every shot matters tremendously. The Processor as currently designed can hold up to 16 images at a time and is ideal for these purposes in particular.
James : When can we see more, when can we buy the product, and how much will it cost?
Kyle : We haven’t narrowed in on a price just yet. Early bird pricing on Kickstarter will be a bit cheaper, of course. The Kickstarter campaign should launch within a few weeks.
I have a love/hate relationship with instant photography. I love Polaroid cameras and I love the idea of instant film. Making a gorgeous image framed by that iconic white border is one of life’s simple pleasures. Unfortunately, it’s also a pricey one.
I hate how difficult it is to get consistent quality in my instant photos. The problem isn’t in my technique. The problem has always been in the development of the film. I can’t count the number of Polaroid photos that have disappointed me – dull, muted colors, strange color shifts, those blue ghosts… My hit rate is higher with Fujifilm Instax film than it is with Polaroid’s product, but even with Fuji’s film I’m never quite positive that I’ll make a good photo anytime I press the shutter.
Since instant film is expensive, every shot that doesn’t develop well is not only a missed opportunity, but a waste of money, too. If BFC and Negative Supply’s Instant Processor can improve the reliability of instant film and the final image, it will go a long way toward solving what are essentially all of the complaints that I have around the medium.
I’m excited to get my hands on my own Instant Processor for a side-by-side test. Who knows? Maybe this is the product that will help me bring my instant photography to a more serious level.
Want your own instant film camera / instant film? Use the links below.
Buy instant film from B&H Photo here – Polaroid Film / Instax Film
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