Polaroid Originals Announces Discontinuation of all Spectra Films

Polaroid Originals Announces Discontinuation of all Spectra Films

2800 1200 James Tocchio

Polaroid Originals today announced that production of all Spectra Series film for classic Polaroid Spectra cameras has been officially discontinued. The news of the discontinuation comes following numerous reports from Spectra camera users over the pasts twelve months that new Polaroid Originals’ Spectra film failed to eject properly from their classic Spectra cameras. The seemingly random faults were so common that Polaroid Originals temporary halted production of Spectra film in a six-month effort to discern the root of the problem and develop a solution. Unfortunately, a solution could not be devised.

In the statement issued by Polaroid Originals today, Polaroid Originals’ Head of Global Manufacturing, Andrew Billen, explains the problem and the brand’s efforts to solve it.

“Our manufacturing team led an intensive, 6-month testing and improvement plan on Spectra cameras and our film. We optimized the dimensions and deflection angle of the ejecting film, reduced the pod weight, and lowered the mask friction through different coatings. We also carried out multiple battery tests with different voltages and currents from different suppliers.

This fault is completely random and depends on many variables with each pack of film and the configuration of the camera circuitry. There is, unfortunately, no simple fix.”

The announcement is accompanied by a message from Polaroid Originals CEO Oskar Smolokowski in which he thanks the community of instant film shooters and offers condolences for our loss.

“Since 1986, Spectra has played an important part in Polaroid’s film offering and in the world of analog instant photography. With three decades behind them, these wide format cameras are now coming to the end of their useful lives. Jamming and frequent breakdowns are now affecting the majority of these cameras, and unfortunately, this is not something we can influence with our film.

After extensive testing, we have concluded that we cannot support these cameras any longer. So today, with a heavy heart, we are announcing the end of production for Spectra film.

As we share in the sadness with our community, we continue to focus on the future of analog instant photography through enhancing our core range, and through continued work on our film chemistry. We look forward to working with our community to test new products and to keep analog instant photography thriving well into the future.

If you are one of the lucky few with a fully working Spectra camera, you can still purchase the final batch on sale now for the next few months.”

The loss of Polaroid Originals Spectra film is indeed somewhat tragic, especially considering that some of the Polaroid Spectra cameras produced throughout the 1980s and 1990s remain to this day some of the best and most capable Polaroid instant cameras ever made. And as fans of analog photography have been recently enjoying a slight resurgence in the quantity and variety of film available to buy, with the past couple of years seeing the revival of numerous films, the loss of Spectra film is indeed a harsh blow.

See the PO announcement here.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio
4 comments
  • I have an Image System (aka Spectra) on my shelf and wanted to use it at some point. I was hoping for a price drop (in Sweden a pack costs 21,54 USD) or increase the sheets to 10. It’s a shame it’s discontinued. Maybe one can hack old Spectra cartridges and put in Fuji Instax wides?

  • I have been an avid Spectra film user for about the past 6 years or more and it was this film which turned me back onto Polaroid film. I had tried some 600 and it was shocking along with the camera so basically put me off polaroid for about 2 years or more. I don’t really believe the jamming reason as i haven’t come across it with any packs of mine ( fingers crossed) but i feel that they wanted to shift to the 600 square frame size. I expect the SX-70 film to disappear over the next 3-4 years.

    • I also smell a rat – albeit one doused in Giorgio Armani perfume – regarding the statement about cartridge jamming. I haven’t seen youtubers mention it in their reviews. Granted, it can happen, and the steep price per cartridge might turn some off polaroiding altogether, but I doubt it’s such a big issue to cause the canceling of the format. I suspect it’s a question of quality, supply and demand. Spectra BW pictures look great while colour ones – from what I’ve read – still aren’t as good as the originals. And given Spectras are the most expensive, it’s little wonder that it’s not economically viable to keep producing Spectra cartridges. And Fuji’s Instax line offers a wide format which competes with Polaroid. It’s possible Polaroid just wanted to cut costs while trying to save face from a PR perspective. Also possible they’ll retire other formats in the future except the i-Type.

  • I regularly buy and sell Polaroid cameras and after about the 4th Spectra that intermittently jammed I stopped buying them. I sold two others and shortly after purchase the customers contacted me with jamming issues. It would be difficult to know what exactly the life expectancy was for these cameras, maybe they are expiring, it would also make sense that the new film is the problem. Either way Polaroid Originals I imagine still runs on pretty tight margins and it was likely hard to justify the production costs for that film given its unique shape, and the fact that they were having issues with it. I would hope that they would be willing to sell that film to someone willing to devote more time and money into getting it to work. It would likely have to be a real vanity project I imagine.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio