How to Find Film for Your Old Polaroid Camera (2024)

We really like physical photos around these parts. Our guide to the Best Instant Cameras has a collection of modern gadgets that print out pictures that you can stick on your fridge or pin on your walls. But what about the ones that started it all? Polaroid cameras have been fumbling around attics, garages, and storage closets for decades. And if you found one or just bought a cheap used one, there's good news: You just need some film.

The better news is that, despite huge difficulty in the past, it's now easier than ever to get film for your old Polaroid cameras. However, despite it being easy to find cheap film on Amazon, there's a bit more nuance to choosing film than randomly picking whatever shows up first. If you're not sure what kind of film your camera uses, read on.

A Brief History Lesson

Finding film for older Polaroid cameras can be simple and tricky at the same time. Today, if you come across a vintage camera manufactured by Polaroid—which went bankrupt and shut down in 2001—you can still buy film for that camera from a newer, mostly unrelated company: Polaroid.

Confused yet? Stick with me and it'll make sense.

When the Polaroid Corporation went out of business, its assets, including the production line for its film and cameras, were sold off or licensed to various investors over the next several years. Film was still produced using the Polaroid brand, until the companies that owned Polaroid's assets decided to abandon the instant camera business entirely in 2008. Not coincidentally this happened less than a year after the original iPhone came out.

That same year, a company called the Impossible Project was founded to take up the mantle Polaroid was leaving behind. The company bought some of Polaroid's old equipment and developed new instant film modules that could be used in existing Polaroid cameras. Throughout the following decade, Impossible often worked with whatever company currently owned Polaroid's assets to manufacture cameras, film modules, and other accessories.

That is, until 2017, when the Impossible Project's largest shareholder bought the entirety of Polaroid's assets and intellectual property. Like reforging a sword that had been broken, Polaroid had become whole once again, and in 2020, Impossible rebranded itself as Polaroid.

Which brings us to the situation we have today: Polaroid once again makes Polaroid cameras and film for Polaroid cameras. If you search Amazon for “polaroid film,” you'll find film made by Polaroid for Polaroid cameras. Convenient, right? However, there are still a few details about the various types of film you need to know.

What Type of Film Do I Need?

Polaroid cameras use a few different types of film, and they're not generally interchangeable. The first step is to look up what model of camera you have. For example, I have a Polaroid Spirit 600 which takes (surprise) 600 film. Below we'll go over each type of film, and the special considerations you should keep in mind for each.

Photograph: Eric Ravenscraft

If you have a picture in your mind of what “a Polaroid” looks like, this is probably what you're thinking of. Early Polaroid cameras had low sensitivity to light, and thus were only really good for outdoor photography—unless you had a really bright flash. Polaroid 600 film was created to be more sensitive than previous film types, so you could take photos indoors or in low light and still get a usable photo.

These modules also had a small battery in them to power the camera, which didn't have power on its own. This means, among other things, that any film manufactured by the original Polaroid Corporation prior to 2008 is probably dead by now. If you hunt for vintage film on sites like eBay, there's a good chance that the film cartridge won't work in your older camera. Fortunately, the new Polaroid makes 600 film manufactured this decade that will work just fine.

The Polaroid 600 cameras were popular in the ’90s, but if you have a Polaroid camera from the ’70s or ’80s, it's more likely to use Polaroid SX-70 film. These have a square shape similar to the 600 film, but they're much less sensitive to light. Most cameras that use this type of film will struggle to take a good picture indoors unless you have a flash—which many models didn't come with.

When Impossible Project started making its own cameras in 2016, it made a small change to the film cartridges traditional Polaroid cameras use. Rather than putting a tiny battery in each and every film cartridge, the cameras would provide power themselves. This not only made it possible for film cartridges to last longer, it was better for the environment overall. This new format is the I-Type film.

A comparable pack of I-Type film is sometimes slightly cheaper than more traditional 600 film. However, you'll need one of Polaroid's new I-Type cameras to use it. These newer cameras can accept both 600 film and I-Type film, but you'll usually be better off with the I-Type film, since it doesn't require a built-in battery like the 600 film does.

How to Find Film for Your Old Polaroid Camera (2024)


How to Find Film for Your Old Polaroid Camera? ›

If you search Amazon for “polaroid film,” you'll find film made by Polaroid for Polaroid cameras.

What film does my old Polaroid take? ›

600 Type. 600 is the most common film type for vintage cameras, and works with Polaroid's popular 600 series of cameras. The majority of cameras will have a number in the 600-series in their name (e.g. Sun 660, LM630, SLR 680, Impulse, Impulse AF and so on). You can always spot 600 film from its blue packaging.

Can you still buy film for old cameras? ›

All major camera stores still sell film. This fact proves the legacy status of film photography. Visit a big-name camera retailer in-store or online and you'll find great collections of all the film brands listed above, plus selections of specialty films listed below.

How do you identify Polaroid film? ›

On the back of every Polaroid photo, you'll find a 10-11 digit code. Film produced before 04/18 will have an 10 digit code while film produced after this date will have an 11 digit code. If you ever need to contact Polaroid Customer Support about a problem with your film, it's very important to provide this number.

Is there any value to old Polaroid cameras? ›

If you have an old Polaroid camera lying around, then you might be wondering, “How much is an old Polaroid camera worth?” Vintage Polaroid camera value can range a lot depending on many factors, but in general, they range from as little as $10 to $20 and as high as $1000 or more.

What film should I buy for my Polaroid camera? ›

Choose between i-Type and 600 Polaroid film for the perfect combination of film and frame for your Polaroid photographs. The Polaroid Now works best with i-Type film, but it can also be used with 600.

Why is Polaroid film so expensive? ›

Additionally, Polaroid film is produced in smaller quantities than Instax film, which can also contribute to a higher cost. Finally, Polaroid film also has a long history and is associated with a certain level of nostalgia and artistic value, which may allow the manufacturers to charge a premium price for it.

Where can I develop old camera film? ›

No matter what type of film requires developing, you can bring it to your local CVS Photo location for processing. Services include processing for 35mm film, disposable cameras, Advanced Photo System film, black and white film, 110 film and slide film.

Do they still make Polaroid film? ›

Polaroid Film

A new generation of instant film made for our i-Type cameras*. And made with pride in the Netherlands.

Does Walmart still develop film? ›

Easy & convenient—ready in days:

Bring your film or one-time-use cameras to a Walmart Photo Center. See an Entertainment associate for assistance when dropping off your film. Your prints will be available for pickup in approximately 6 days. You can choose 4x6, 5x7 or larger prints for framing.

What are the 3 dots on my Polaroid camera? ›

Caused by:

In order to spread the chemistry between the negative and positive part of the photo, the picture passes through two rollers as it ejects from the camera. If the rollers are not clean, it will affect how the chemistry is spread, causing marks to appear.

How do you date old Polaroids? ›

What is the number on the back of the photo?
  1. Numbers 1 & 2: Month of production.
  2. Numbers 3 & 4: Year of production.
  3. Numbers 5 & 6: Machine used for the production.
  4. Numbers 7 & 8: Type of film.
  5. Numbers 9 & 10: Day of production.

Can you use any film for Polaroid? ›

You should know which film type the camera uses

No, they are not compatible with each other. Among the same brand, some films are interchangeable. For example, a Polaroid SX-70 can use both Polaroid 600 and 100 film, as long as the camera is modernized or modded.

What happens to old Polaroid film? ›

Chemical changes occur as film ages. These changes can eventually affect how well the film performs. After 12 months from the date of production, it is unlikely that the film will produce images that meet Polaroid standards of quality.

Where can I sell my vintage Polaroid camera? ›

When it comes to selling your Polaroid camera, we recommend using a trusted online sales platform, such as eBay, Depop or Etsy. You can also reach out to Retrospekt, a well known Polaroid camera buyer, at:

Can old Polaroid cameras use new film? ›

The new i-Type film doesn't work in older Polaroid 600 cameras, as the 600 cartridges, like the original SX-70 film, contain a flat battery, while the i-Type does not.

Can I use any Polaroid film with any Polaroid camera? ›

You should know which film type the camera uses

Among the same brand, some films are interchangeable. For example, a Polaroid SX-70 can use both Polaroid 600 and 100 film, as long as the camera is modernized or modded. Most of the time though, it's just one film type for one camera.

What's the difference between 600 and Itype film? ›

A: i-Type film contains no battery in the cartridge so it will only work with Polaroid Originals i-Type cameras like the OneStep 2. 600 film cartridges have a battery built in, as the vintage Polaroid 600 cameras did not have a built in battery in the camera.

Is SX-70 film the same as 600? ›

What is the difference between SX-70 Film and 600 Film? SX-70 film and 600 film are intended for different types of Polaroid cameras. SX-70 film has an ISO of 160, while 600 film has an ISO of 640, meaning images will only properly expose in cameras designed for their usage.

What film can you put in a Polaroid now? ›

The Polaroid Now+ uses i-Type and 600 film. To insert the film pack, press the film eject door, and insert the pack with the darkslide facing up and the tab facing toward you.

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