The Phoblographer Explains: Why You Shouldn’t Shoot Instant Film in Cold Weather

Chris Gampat Gear Patrol Polaroid 210 Patina Post Photos (6 of 11)

This post is not about Instax film or most Impossible Film. No, instead it’s about the film that many photographer regard as the higher end stuff. We’re talking about peel apart film; and if you’re an analog shooter, then you probably know exactly what we’re talking about in this post.

Medium format and large format instant film can be some of the most beautiful stuff that you ever shoot with. No, really, we’re not kidding. Sometimes it’s flawed, sometimes it’s beautifully flawed, sometimes it will make your jaw drop. But whatever you do, you should know that shooting with this stuff in the cold will be incredibly difficult to do.

Why’s that? When Instant Film is shot and pulled through the camera, rollers disperse development chemicals into the imaging area. This allows the image to actually show up but it happens at its best in warmer environments. The colder the temperature is in your surroundings, the longer the development process will take and sometimes you can’t even accurately estimate how long it will take.

Many cameras came with what’s called a cold card where you slipped the image into it and held it against your body for a while. This didn’t always work and if the film was expired, who knows what would come out.

Instead, shooting in weather that is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer is ideal because you can accurately judge how the development process will work. You’re bound to get the most reliable results in this case. And considering what you’re paying for packs of color or black and white, you’ll need to conserve your shots.

With the weather getting warm again, we encourage you to pick up a pack or two and go out there to give it a shot. You’ll be amazed with what you get.