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How to Choose 4x5-inch Camera Film

Polaroid instant cameras provide instant gratification because as soon as you snap the photo. Seconds later a print shoots out of the device and develops right before your eyes. Though the brand doesn't make all of the same models that it once did, you can still purchase 4x5-inch film for your existing camera and take prints that you can use for scrapbooking or give to friends and family members.

What Are the Film Types?

When you're looking at film sheets for cameras of this format, you'll notice that there are a few different types of film, so you'll need to ensure that you choose the right type for your specific Polaroid camera.

  • Most packs of film have a number on the front. This denotes the film type, such as Type 55, Type 72, or Type 79. This typically tells you which camera series or line the sheet film is compatible with. For instance, Type 79 film works with the Polaroid Polacolor Pro 100 camera.
  • You can buy black-and-white or color film in most cases. This may not be an available option for all cameras, however.
  • Older types of instant film, called sheet film, came with a negative sheet and a positive sheet that developed together to create the image, so you'd get a print and a negative too.

What Does Speed Mean?

Another thing you'll notice when you're looking for instant film is that there's an acronym that says "ISO" with a number next to it. What does this mean and should you pay attention to it?

  • ISO is the term used to refer to instant film speed. Speed measures the film's reaction to light so a higher number means that the film is more light-sensitive, which can mean you'll get better images in low-light situations. In situations where you're not usually shooting in low light, a lower ISO works fine.
  • Instant film comes in speeds that range from 50 to 100, 200, 500, and up.
  • You typically see film in this size with an ISO of 50, though it depends on the type of camera and what your particular needs are.

How Do You Purchase Instant Film?

There are a couple of things to think about when you're buying instant film for this photography format.

  • Consider your Polaroid model and series to determine which number (or type) of film to buy. You can even use Polaroid film with Graflex cameras.
  • Most packs come with 20 sheets, but you can buy multiple boxes or sometimes single sheets.
  • Choose the ISO and black-and-white or color options. To ensure quality, purchase instant packs that are unopened and store them away from extreme temperatures until you use the sheet film.