Polaroid Film Comparison

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'd appreicate information about the qualities of the different films that Polaroid produces for 4x5. I've visited the Polaroid web site, but the descriptions of the different films there are pretty basic. I seem to remember reading a description somewhere else on the web or at a forum like this one, but can't find it now. While I'm interested in using Polaroids for proofing, I'm also interested in which film would have the best detail and tonal range as a finished print. I've heard that one or some of these films have a beautiful tonal range and make nice small prints in their own right.

-- Greg Lawhon (glawhon@unicom.net), December 21, 1998


I use Polaroid black and white several times a week to photograph news stories for the paper. I have been using it as my only 4x5 film for some years because I no longer have a darkroom. (Many years of working 8 hours in one soured me on doing it for "fun.")

For a long time I used type 52 (400 asa needs coating) I think it probably still has the longest range of any of the Polaroid materials. It isnt a good choice for me now, because I cant stop shooting and bother with the coater when I am in the middle of a story.

I stock the following coaterless materials for everyday use:

Type 53 ASA 800 Type 72 Polapan Pro ASA 400

The above are my most often used for news coverage.

Also use:

Type 54 Polapan Pro 100 -- Nice quality to this. Type 55 Pos/Neg Need to use about ASA 32 to get a good neg. Type 59 Color The old standby. Nice images Type 79 Color I am still making up my mind on this one. It gives a very true color rendition. Type 56 Sepia I like this a lot. It gives a rich warm reddish brown tone. I use it exclusively shooting photos for my town's Victorian Days and Victorian Art Fair. I put them in some nice period looking folders and sell them on the spot.

I havent played with type 51 or type 57 lately. I understand they changed the type 51 to a pos/neg type.

I agree with you that the Polaroid image has a feeling all its own. I enjoy having the print right there while I still have the scene in front of me. It often encourages me to concentrate on something I missed in the first photo that I see in the Polaroid.

I think they look best on a mount about 10 x 12 or so.

Have fun. Hope this helps.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), December 22, 1998.


I talked to a Tech. rep. at Polaroid recently with your very question. He said the same thing as Tony Brent in his reply to your message. Type 52 gives the best detail and resolution, even better than the slower films. The coating is a bit of a pain, and leaves streaking which I can see from certain viewing angles of the print.

Good luck,


-- John Greenler (zephyrfarm@compuserve.com), December 27, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ