Just to be clear…. I still stand by my original processing technique outlined here in FR years ago which does not use the pre wet and has slightly more agitation than the technique outlined above (metal reels and tanks only for the older process). If the film and agitation technique is perfect without a pre wet then go for it but I have found most modern films do benefit from the pre wet… the only downside is developer longevity and about 1/3 stop loss in speed.
Yep, it’s that time of year when shooting instant films poses an extra challenge– how to keep the film warm for processing! Over the years I’ve invented different heater boxes to keep materials warm with varying degrees of success. However this year I’ve decided to run a quick test to see just how adaptable these materials are at lower temperatures.
All three cameras: SX-70 with 600 Color Impossible Film, Polaroid 110B with Fuji FP100C and the Fuji 500AF with Instax Wide were left outside in 32F for 45 minutes. Then I shot one image with each camera and left the film to process outside again in 32F for an hour. Then I brought the images inside and made a note of its development stage and then allowed it to continue to process at 70F for an additional hour- I did not peel the 100C film apart till the end of the testing time. The results are pretty interesting….
Let’s go through them one by one:
Impossible Color 600 (newest version, left square image)
Not much happening here… these films as I have mentioned before are VERY sensitive to temperature changes and working in the cold with this particular material requires a plan for keeping not only the camera warm when loaded but also the film for the full development time which is around 35-45 minutes. Add to that the requirement to shield the image from light till development is finished and it is a tricky juggling act.
Fuji Instax Wide (top right)
Fuji Instax Wide is quite the durable material. This film also continued to process during the warm phase of the testing- not a lot but the black did add additional density and the colors became more saturated. While the color and contrast are off they are not off much and it would be very easy to correct for the cold effects in Photoshop.
Fuji FP 100C (lower right)
Fuji FP 100C really did a great job with regards to contrast and tonal range BUT the color shift is quite obvious— Green! Of course a lot of that shift is from an extended period of development which tends to shift green anyways regardless of the temperature. I almost always leave my FP-100C to self terminate in development (5-10 minutes is normal for me) as I don’t really want to have to stop shooting and watch the peel time depending on temperature. Overall this would be a very easy color correction to do in Photoshop and again the tonality and contrast are the best of the group.
Sample images from above with quick photoshop color correction.
If you are going to shoot in cold weather try to keep your loaded camera warm at all times and keep the developing film warm as well for best quality. The Fuji Instax wide and the FP100C were the most robust in the cold, I suspect if I had pulled the film apart earlier the test the color would be closer. I also found in the color corrected images above that the FP-100C was much closer to the color and tone of the actual scene whereas the Instax Wide gained a fair amount of contrast and was harder to keep the saturation and contrast balanced. Impossible Color 600 would not be a recommendation unless you have, as I have stated above, some degree of controlling the development temperature, clearly essential for this material.