Impossible Project announced to their pioneers last week, that their chief chemist Martin Steinmeijer, had invented a brand new opacification molecule.   They said it’s designed to completely absorb light as the photograph exits the camera and remains colorless and transparent once the image has fully developed. TIP also stated “this new molecule is as powerful as the molecule used in the original Polaroid materials and for the first time will allow you to take your Impossible photographs without the need of immediate shielding.” THIS is what everyone has been waiting for.

I received the pioneer newsletter in my email one morning, and when I saw how fast the packs were going, I snagged two of them (limit of 4). I was going to wait, but I’m so glad I didn’t … they sold all 400 packs available in the states, in under 30 minutes.  When the film came in the mail a few days later, I was pretty excited.  This was the first time I’d been able to test a new batch of film … I ripped open the package.

Impossible Project PX680-V4B Test Film
Impossible Project PX680-V4B Test Film – SWEEEEET.

I didn’t have a Polaroid 680/690 to shoot this film with, nor did I have a ND4 filter to slap on the SX-70 .. but I did have a Polaroid One Step Flash that had been sitting on my shelf.  I figured I’d shoot a variety of subjects with the OneStepFlash, the RB67 and possibly the SX-70+ND2 lit by the mid-day sun, indoor on-camera flash, studio strobes, ambient light, long-exposures etc.

I loaded up the first pack of film and headed out with Synthia. We ended up going to the Design District Gallery Day to check out some new photographs that were at PDNB. I was going to snag some photos but it was 106 outdoors and nothing really looked worthy enough.  We ended up cruising up the road to one of my favorite overlooks of downtown.  Over the past couple of months, I had come here to snag two other impossible photos on an overcast day and in the evening.   I jumped out of the car, cranked the exposure down & fired off a shot with the OneStepFlash.  WITHOUT SHIELDING THE PHOTO, it ejected into the blazin’ sun when it was still 100+ degrees.  During the ride home, the photo developed out in the open & in my lap for about 30 minutes (at 80ish degrees I would imagine).

Dallas, TX - Polaroid OneStep Flash - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B
Dallas, TX – Polaroid OneStep Flash – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B

Regarding the color you’ll see in these images, TIP stated “these packs are not yet fully optimized for color performance .. it is still being worked on at this time .. the focus was on the opacification layer.”

My friend JV had met up with us to check out the gallery, so after we got back home, I set up a few lights and took a picture of him.  Don’t look too serious now buddy … 😉

Impossible Project PX-680-V4B Test Film - Mamiya RB67 - 105mm SF-C
Impossible Project PX-680-V4B Test Film – Mamiya RB67 – 105mm SF-C – Developed @ 75 degrees

I shot this particular impossible photo on the RB67.  After I shot it, I went to a dark closet to extract the photo, put it in an empty PX-70 pack and slid it fully inside the SX-70.  Then I brought the SX-70 out into a lit room, closed the front .. *camera ejects film* .. and BAM – opacification molecules doing their ‘thang’ in the light.  It sat on a table for 25 minutes developing in the office.

Later on in the weekend, I figured a test of the highlights, and how the film handled harsh on-camera-flash would be good to have.  I snapped a pic of Maybelle indoors (by enticing her with treats) and walked the exposed picture over to an area I had set up by the window.  I shot a stop-motion video sequence with the D700 so I could show how the picture developed. I snapped a photo every 5-10 seconds over a 25 minute period, but admittedly it was probably every 3-5 once the development started to kick in.  The image is about as good as I would expect from a OneStep indoors, with a bright blaring flash .. *poor Maybelle .. she got lots of love after being temporarily blinded*

Polaroid OneStep Flash - PX680-V4B - Even Exposure
Polaroid OneStep Flash – PX680-V4B – Even Exposure – Developed @ 80 degrees

The next day, I ended up experimenting a little bit and extracted a test photo *in the darkroom*, slid it inside an empty Spectra pack and loaded up my Spectra AF.  Why not?

I went up the road and snagged a quick photo of a donut shop.  The sun was probably a little behind me to my left and it was 4 o’clock.   I shot it with an even exposure.  When I got back home, I went back into the closet to do the impossible shuffle and again, brought the camera out to eject the photo into the light to test the new opacification molecule.

Spectra AF - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B
Spectra AF – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B – Developed @ 75 degrees

One thing I have noticed, is that the level of goopyness in the shadows isn’t as pronounced as it has been in the past.   In previous versions of their films, there were blobs and a splotchiness to the images (which honestly I liked) which is not prevalent in these test packs.

I liked the outcome of the first Spectra image, so I loaded up another shot and went out later to test a long exposure.   I ended up cruising to The Dog Stop; a place I ate at years ago with my wife one day.   I set the Spectra up on a tripod and bumped the exposure up 1/3rd of the way; it was about a second or two as I recall.   I drove back home and did the impossible shuffle yet again, so the image could develop in the light.

Spectra AF - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B
Spectra AF – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B – Developed 75 degrees

The following day, I stuck with the theme of ‘random-buildings-i-have-always-wanted-to-shoot-but-never-have’ around the area and snapped another photo with the Spectra.

Como Motel - Spectra AF - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B
Como Motel – Spectra AF – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B – Fully Underexposed – Developed 75 degrees

OK – Enough with the building photos ..

I loaded up the PX680-V4B in my SX-70 and swung by the lake.  The sun had just set and there was this incredible light on the lake (isn’t that always the case ;-)).  I cranked the exposure dial all the way down and hoped for the best …

White Rock Lake - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B - Polaroid SX-70 - Exposure Down
White Rock Lake – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B – Polaroid SX-70 – Exposure Down – Developed 90 degrees

Again, less goopy-ness in the shadows.  It does look like the overall quality of the highlights & shadows are improving.   It seems, like in this image, it’s getting a little less gunked up and is rendering smoother tonal gradations.  Now with that said, I love the gunk/funk of the old images.   That’s part of what makes those old-gen, 12/11, NIGO and other variations so cool.  I just like it gunky.

EDIT: One more from the RB …

Mamiya RB67 - 105mm SF-C - Impossible Project PX-680 V4B
Mamiya RB67 – 105mm SF-C – Impossible Project PX-680 V4B

Same thing.  Did the impossible shuffle to extract the photo and get it into the SX-70, however, after I ejected the photo in the light, I stowed it away, a few seconds afterwards, in a box for the duration of the development @ 75 degrees.

Overall, it looks to be a massive improvement in the way their films can handle direct ambient indoor light & outdoor light once the image has started its development.  The Impossible chemists have been trying to solve the opacification issue for a while.  Soon in the near future, as I did with these,  you WILL NOT HAVE TO SHIELD THE PHOTO as it ejects from the camera.  This is a HUGE step forward.  There will be no need to teach shielding techniques to new shooters, nor will there be a need to convince them that all the hassle is worth it.   For the average person, who might want something special beyond a digital snapshot,  this is a massive leap in their direction.   Convincing them to use Impossible Project film will be a hell of a lot easier, when shielding the film isn’t a necessity.  Bravo Impossible .. Bravo.


CHECK OUT this discussion regarding the new opacification test film on Impossible’s Flickr page