Saying Goodbye to Spectra

If you haven’t already heard, Polaroid Originals has announced their decision to cease manufacturing of Spectra film. I want to take the opportunity to share some of our musings from a both personal and camera repair perspective.

When I think back, one of the first Impossible Project photos I ever took was on Spectra film. The subject matter was blown out and blurry, but I loved it. The cameras themselves are weird creatures, the smokey black Onyx, the asymmetrical ProCam, the weirdly co-branded Mintolta Pro. Spectra was the first and we forever be the best wide format instant film (lookin’ at you Fuji Instax) and I’ll miss it dearly.

Old Spectra Ad

The issues started in 2016. It was like an epidemic with no patient zero. Out of no where, cameras started jamming at a statistically significant rate. Our team spent many hours trying to pinpoint the source of the intermittent issues, and we attempted many workarounds, including swapping Spectra motors for 600 ones, hooking up auxiliary battery sources, and installing shims between the rollers to create space. Ultimately none of the solutions were replicable on a large and consistent scale.

In 2017 we withdrew our Spectra repair services. It was disheartening to repair a camera for a customer, have it eject correctly across 8 exposures, and then fail as soon as the person got their camera back. It was especially frustrating for anyone trying out instant film for the first time. Was it the right decision to stop repairing? I don’t know. Some days I’m confident, some days I’m not so sure. But I know we made the best decision at the time with the information we had.

Spectra pic

At the end of the day, it’s hard to let go. Polaroid Originals certainly understands that it is a bit “off-brand” to pull the plug on a format of film. Having visited the factory many times, there is an incredibly gifted team of engineers, chemists, operators, and quality control personnel who pour heart and soul into improving and maintaining the quality of film. From all of us at Retrospekt — thank you Polaroid Originals and the OG Impossible team for your hard work and efforts over the past decade. The magic of instant film lives on!

— Kori Fuerst, Owner