RIP, Spectra – Polaroid discontinues film and no longer restores old cameras

RIP, Spectra – Polaroid discontinues film and no longer restores old cameras
(Image credit: Polaroid Originals)

Polaroid Originals announced that it has ceased production of wide format Spectra film – and, at the same time, it has also ended its program of restoring old Polaroid Spectra cameras. 

This marks the end of an era for analog photography, closing the 33-year-old chapter of the Spectra camera system and instant film that launched in 1986. 

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"With three decades behind them, these wide format cameras are now coming to the end of their useful lives," wrote Oskar Smolokowski, CEO of Polaroid Originals. "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."

Polaroid Originals puts the nail in the coffin for Spectra cameras and instant film

Polaroid Originals puts the nail in the coffin for Spectra cameras and instant film (Image credit: Polaroid Originals)

The issue, it seems, is simply one of mechanical aging. After 30 years, Spectra cameras are simply starting to break down beyond repair – and jamming seems to be an insurmountable issue.  

"Our manufacturing team led an intensive, 6-month testing and improvement plan on Spectra cameras and our film." said Andrew Billen, head of Global Manufacturing. "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."

Consequently, Polaroid Originals no longer offers restored cameras on its website. It is running a closeout on its final batch of Spectra film, available for $19.99 per pack or $55.99 for a triple pack. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.