So, The Impossible Project Is One Year Old….

Dr. Florian Kaps truly is a genius. He is hard not to like. What he did in singlehandedly resurrecting the popularity of instant film photography is nothing short of brilliant. The marketing that The Impossible Project employs is a masterstroke. The products, however, have tremendous opportunity for improvement. I’d love to, for example, take my SX-70 out in the field, without a cardboard light shade contraption taped to the front of this elegant looking device. Just as Dr. Land envisioned a true One Step process, without “garbage” (paper tabs, negatives, etc), some stable Impossible films without voodoo necessary just to take a shot would be nice. Their “cause”, if one could call it that, in an admirable one. But I must say, lately, they have been pushing it a bit too far.

I subscribe to their e-mail newsletter updates. Sometimes there is great information on an exhibit, some techniques, or some manufacturing improvements. But lately, I have received offers for insanely overpriced Polaroid cameras, no doubt marketed to the “Polaroid hipster” movement, and to sell cameras to those who do not want to deal with the e-Bay’s, Goodwill’s, Salvation Army’s, and Etsy’s of the world. I thought I had seen it all when receiving this offer on March 3rd, for a Job Pro 2 600-series camera, which sells as inexpensively as $5 US on eBay, for $120. Come on, guys….it’s a yellow 600.

"It's Impossible", As Perry Como Once Crooned- Yours For Only $120.

"It's Impossible", As Perry Como Once Crooned- Yours For Only $120.

Just as when I thought they had gone over the top, on March 17th, an e-mail goes out from Impossible, offering The Polaroid 680 SLR camera. The folks at Impossible have always seemed to have this strange cultish hero-worship over the SX-70 camera. I have only shot 8 exposures with my SX-70, but really have failed to see what all the rage is over the camera. Yes, it is an aesthetically magnificent, elegant looking device, and yes, it represents Dr. Land’s crowning achievement in the advancement of true one step integral instant film methodologies. But, the camera is almost painfully limited in what it can do. And the prints are, compared to the beloved Color Pack Automatic Land Cameras, well, small. Despite this, it has become THE gadget of choice amongst hipsters. If the nice folks at Impossible love the SX-70, well they must really love the 680 SLR (yes, I know, it is an SLR), because they want us to pay $690 for it. Huh? Despite this insane robbery, this camera, like just about every accessory on Impossible’s web site shop, is sold out. Remember what P.T. Barnum said-

Yours For The Impossibly Low Price Of $690. Couldn't They Have Shaved $10 Off And Made It A More Marketable $680?

Yours For The Impossibly Low Price Of $690. Couldn't They Have Shaved $10 Off And Made It A More Marketable $680?

Today, to celebrate the one year anniversary of general availability, we have films with grey and black borders. Huh? This one just has me scratching my head. But no doubt, also has hipsters dancing in the streets. Couldn’t we have just have had better performance, more stability, and less voodoo necessary to yield a nicer exposure? Enough, Impossible. You are now, by all accounts, a $10 million company. The Polaroid legacy really does deserve better than this-

Gray Frames Don't Make For Better Exposures

Grey Frames Don't Make For Better Exposures

A Bowl Of Soup, Professionally Lit, And Photoshopped, With A Black Frame

A Bowl Of Soup, Professionally Lit, And Photoshopped, But Wait, With A Black Frame

I am trying, really hard, to like The Impossible Project. Every interaction I have had with Impossible NYC has been courteous and responsive. They truly are super nice people, and passionate about Polaroid instant photography. But the films are still experimental, yet are being marketed as if they are mature, finished products. $23.50 for 8 exposures with a grey or black frame? Enough. Simply improve the products. I have posted as such on the Flickr Impossible boards, and of course, was pounced on faster than it takes a sheet of UV+ to develop. Impossible represents hope. If done right, this truly could be a new dawn, a true photographic renaissance of instant film. Please, do it right. and don’t rip enthusiasts off. I have been trying, really trying, to hold back. Offerings such as these make it “Impossible” to do so.

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15 thoughts on “So, The Impossible Project Is One Year Old….

  1. It is absolutely rediculous. To charge that kind of money for film, nevermind the cameras. Robbery.

    Let’s hope their films improve. They have nowhere to go but up.

    Did you ever get your 230 up and running?

    A

  2. Not to “jump on you,” but I don’t mind paying an inflated price if I know that part of that price is funding the research effort to improve the film. Dr. Kaps has made it clear that they’re far from finished making their improvements to the films. (I would like them to disclose the specific percentage that goes to R&D, though.)

    As for the pricey cameras, I’m sure they’ve done marketing research to determine the price that they can set for these items to maximize profit. As you note, the prices are ridiculous, but they DO sell out. And as I see it, with the film quality being what it is, the more money the Impossible Project has to work with, the better. Let the hipsters rip themselves off while the likes of you and I resort to the eBays of the world.

    My sincere hope is that once accurate, stable color films (on par with what the Sx-70/600/Spectra films used to be) are invented, we’ll see a decrease in prices, since TIP will then be able to focus solely on production rather than research and development.

  3. And also, I see the black-bordered film as just a cool alternative that can help the presentation of some shots. (Kinda like how they sell both white and black matte board…) I’m sure that not a lot of effort was diverted from their research to put a black color border around the image.

  4. At $690 for a 680 SLR, I have no doubt that they are “makimizing profits”, just as they are at $3 an exposure for experimental film. I don’t think we will see any price decreases, if anything, price increases, if/when their films improve. The stuff is, quite frankly, junk, today. The hipsters will pay any price, regardless. I don’t think everything on eBay is junk, either, but you do have to be very selective, and pick and choose, as well as complement efforts with family hand-me-downs, Goodwill, Salvation Army, thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets, etc. Sorry, but $690 for this camera is a bit much. As is $3 an exposure. To think that you are “helping a cause” at that price is somewhat naive, considering they are over a $10 million company at this stage. They are making money. They aren’t doing it for the benefit of mankind.

    A

    A

  5. Better film would have been much more welcomed than colored borders. You can always matte framed presentations, or simply Photoshop colored borders as deemed necessary.

    A

  6. wow, sour grapes much Arthur? the Impossible people have said over and over again that the cameras they sell are for people who don’t want to pay ebay prices and who want a guaranteed product. they’ve always been really helpful when people ask about other places to find cameras.

    as far as the film, the black bordered film IS a new version of the PX600 film and color film is coming soon. if you weren’t such an jerk to them they might’ve even sent you some to test (they did me.) also, just because YOU haven’t been able to create a good image using the film doesn’t mean the film is bad, there are thousands of excellent images on flickr and other places on-line. If you ever visited the New York gallery you’d see even more examples.

    given the fact that you blast anyone who dares to say they like a SX-70 begs the question why you’re even commenting? also, did a hipster steal your lunch money? you’re awfully naive if you think hipsters are the only ones who shoot polaroid/instant film and your constant yammering on about it makes you look ridiculous.

    • Thanks, Betsy, for having me “banned” from the Flickr SX-70, and Impossible groups, for simply speaking my mind. Truth be fold, Fuji crack and peel films for the Automatic Land Cameras are robust, mature products, that simply work. This photographer has been published, has had billboards at Fenway Park in Boston, and next month, is being exhibited at an art museum in Massachusetts. yes, with Polaroid photography. Taken with 45 year old Land Cameras that did not cost $690. I don’t need free experimental film. I would rather purchase stable film that works. Details to come in a future blog article. Duh, winning!

      Cheers,

      A

  7. I have no affiliation with flickr, I haven’t posted anything there in years so I resent your accusations. Perhaps it’s your boorish behavior that got you banned.

    Do you have any idea who’s shooting with Impossible film? Photographers with a lot more clout than you.

    Kisses,
    Betsy

    • Never said you had any affiliation- Flickr groups can be read by anyone. Which I find very coincidental, given the fact that you stated I “blasted” anyone who likes an SX-70. Surely, that indicates you read my postings on the Flickr boards. Clout? people who supposedly are influential in photography, which is less and less now in these digital days, aren’t spending $3 an exposure on experimental film.

      A

      • I like some of Jarvis’ stuff, in a “hipster” kind of way, but he really lost me with his promotional activity for the new Polaroid at CES. Using cell phone cameras, and trying to promote them as the new instant camera, well, come on. Cell phone cameras are still awful cameras. I know, it’s the photographer- but, they really are bad cameras.

        A

  8. i love what dan said: “Let the hipsters rip themselves off while the likes of you and I resort to the eBays of the world.” 600€?? that’s really a rip-off, because on ebay you’ll find tested, new looking ones for less than 200. a few weeks ago i purchased a sx-70 off the german (and i’m not german) ebay for 38 euros, the seller claimed it was working. haven’t tested it but it sure looks great! i really think that if the film would be better, and cheaper, the sx-70 would be my favourite, but for now i’ll have to wait.

    packfilm cameras are apparently not as popular, is that because IP doesn’t make film for them and therefor doesn’t promote them? they can come quite cheap, but something even cheaper is the 600 camera. i laugh at 120 euros, when these can be found perfectly, evidently working on ebay for less than a tenth of that price. i know – supply and demand, and the fact that it’s guaranteed – but isn’t it almost stealing? they could just as well sell these for 30€, or something closer to the ORIGINAL RETAIL price, 30 or 40 bucks (not many years ago). they are exploiting the people who don’t want to use ebay.

    i feel it’s necessary to end my statement saying that i do actually like IP, the new px680 film looks fantastic (and the bw film is good for some purposes), but the marketing and the prices leave plenty of room for improvement. i am wating, and i’ll try to stay positive.

    and please betsy, could you stop provoking. your arguments aren’t valid, unlike arthurs.

    • There is indeed room for improvement. I just feel that at over $3 US per shot, that it is really a ripoff, for experimental, unstable films. Not to mention the camera prices. Insane. And, will only serve to drive the e-Bay prices up even higher. And yes, Dan really is right.

      A

  9. And the price will keep going up, if you ask me. I seriously think that, at this point, those guys are focusing their efforts on making profit, rather than development. Of course, I could be wrong, but if I were handed such a cash cow I would milk it as much as I can too.

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