Polaroid Unveils Improved Chemistry for B&W 600 Instant Film

Black and white diptych portraits: left image featuring a tattooed man with a mustache and shaved head, right image showing a woman with curly hair gazing thoughtfully.
Photos by Harriet Browse

Polaroid has announced a significant upgrade to its iconic B&W 600 film for vintage and vintage-inspired instant cameras.

The new B&W 600 Film — Monochrome Frame features new chemistry, which Polaroid promises offers instant photographers improved clarity and lighter contrast. The company also says that the revised film “offers photographers significantly more nuance” in their black and white images.

Black and white portrait of an elderly woman with a warm smile, wearing a plaid shirt and looking over her shoulder. the background is dark, accentuating her face.
Photo by Harriet Browse
Black and white photo of hands holding a small fish with a blurred natural landscape and a large rock formation in the background.
Photo by Jamie Swick
A foggy road with visible lane markings leading towards silhouettes of large trees obscured by the dense mist, creating a mysterious atmosphere.
Photo by Ruben Oude Nijhuis

“Our film chemistry is at the very heart of what we do at Polaroid. We’re hard at work on numerous research tracks to keep pushing the film forward, and moments like these when we can release the new formulations to the public are super exciting,” says Polaroid Chairman Oskar Smolokowski. “We’re very proud to manufacture all of this in our European factories, the world’s only Polaroid film production facilities!”

Polaroid B&W 600 Film features a positive sheet and negative material, enabling instant photos when exposed to light. The light sensitivity is due to silver halide crystals that react during exposure, creating a latent image. The film then passes through rollers in a 600 camera, which applies a developer chemical. The developer catalyzes a reaction with the exposed crystals. Additional chemicals help control reaction speed, stabilize everything, and protect the photo against ambient light.

A black and white photo of a person with long hair and a beard, wearing a sweater, standing contemplatively in a cozy kitchen with pots and plants on shelves.
Photo by Marie Renaud
Black and white image of a tranquil beach scene with a silhouette of a lone surfer walking on the shore, a cliff with tall trees to the right, and reflective water in the foreground.
Photo by Jamie Swick
Elderly man sitting at a table, concentrating as he looks at a hand of playing cards. the setting appears indoors, and the photo has a vintage, black and white polaroid style.
Photo by Marie Renaud

The instant photography process is fascinating, and its roots can be traced back to Polaroid founder Edwin Land. While much has changed since Land pioneered instant photography and turned Polaroid into a household name, the basic principles of instant film photography have remained unchanged.

That is part of what makes Polaroid’s new chemical process so interesting — these sorts of changes do not come often. In some cases, analog photography chemical adjustments result from supply issues or to adhere to new environmental and safety regulations. In this case, Polaroid doesn’t say what precipitated the shift, only that the chemistry is better. The new-and-improved B&W chemistry will be rolled out across upcoming Polaroid film products.

A black and white polaroid photo depicting a woman with striking makeup and earrings, next to a box of b&w 600 film by Polaroid. the image emphasis is on artistic expression through monochrome filters.

Polaroid B&W 600 Film — Monochrome Frames are available now for $20 per pack directly from Polaroid . The film has black, dark gray, and light gray frames around the image area. Each pack has eight instant photos, and the new chemistry can be told apart from the older B&W 600 Film by new packaging with a diagonal gray gradient striping. The old film has a solid gray and white package.

Image credits: Polaroid. Individual photographers are credited in the captions.