With Polaroid’s integral and peel apart films now becoming a distant memory, many photographers lament losing the creative potential that instant films provided. They can take heart, for not only is the Impossible Project making integral films to fit the beloved folding SX-70 and 600 cameras, but Fuji Film continues to make their own integral offering (Instax) and continues to provide two beautiful instant peel apart films. For those new to instant films (and it is funny to even have to acknowledge that) the difference between integral and peel apart may need some brief explanation. Peel apart is the original old fashioned instant film invented by Edwin Land in 1948. It contains a negative, a positive and a reagent in a film pack. After exposure, the packet is pulled through two rollers, a timed development takes place and the final photo is peeled away from the negative. Integral on the other hand contains those same components but is never peeled apart, the image instead migrating and settling onto the positive inside the film packet. It is a more complex process, one that took Polaroid many years to perfect.
Both films offer interesting manipulative options and we will focus on Fuji’s peel apart offering FP-100C, available in both “pack,” 31⁄4 x41⁄4, and “4×5,” a 31⁄2 x41⁄2 print. Fuji’s 4×5 is in fact a pack film also, needing the Polaroid 550 holder or Fuji’s own holder. The smaller size is much less expensive and you may wish to begin your experiments with this.
Like Polaroid’s venerable T669 (Polacolor ER) the Fuji version is capable of making image transfers and emulsion lifts. It has one more ace up its sleeve however in that you can recover and scan or print from its peeled away negative. What did I say? Recover the negative? Like Polaroid T55 of 665? Well sort of, I would never say that this negative rivals those films in ultimate quality but as alternative processes go, this can open up all sorts of creative looks when introduced into a hybrid workflow.