Polaroid type 53 vs 52 and 54

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by qtluong, Mar 29, 2001.

  1. This is about the 4x5 peel apart Polaroid films.
    Besides 55, so far, I've been using 52 and 54. 52
    yields the nicest prints with a smooth and wide tonal range, but
    unfortunately it requires coating. It's annoying to have to hand out
    to your subject a sticky print. 54 doesn't require coating, but
    is not as nice as 52. What's about 53 ? Is it better than 54 ?
    Polaroid terms 54 "Proofing" while 53 is "General Purpose".
    <p>
    PS: Polaroid's info is at
    http://www.polaroid.com/products/instant_cameras/peelapart/4x5/index.html
     
  2. There is a little more information about these films in the pdf spec
    sheets at :

    <p>

    http://digitalimage.polaroid.com/service/filmdatasheets/4_5/index.html

    <p>

    53 appears to be higher contrast and much more temperature sensitive
    if that is a concern. Never used it myself though. I have used type
    72, but like 54 better actually.
     
  3. When I compared Type 52 and Type 53 some years ago, I found them to be
    almost identical, except for Type 53 being coaterless. Despite
    Polaroid rating one at ASA 400 and the other at ASA 800, I found them
    to have identical speeds! The contrast also appears very similar.

    <p>

    I don't understand why Type 53 hasn't supplanted Type 52, except
    perhaps because Polaroid hasn't promoted it very well.
     
  4. Polaroid themselves list "fine art"
    as suggested applications of 52 and 55, but not of 53 or 54.
     
  5. One significant difference is that the coated prints have a much
    greater expected life than uncoated. That is likely why Polaroid
    limits its "fine art" recommendation to 52/54.
     
  6. Sal, what is your source of the information that coated Polaroid has a
    longer expected lifetime? I have never been able to obtain any
    information from Polaroid about the expected lifetime.
     
  7. Michael, I haven't seen much published info. on LE of Polaroid films
    either (aside from a bit in Wilhelm's book), but it's fairly easy to
    see for yourself what Sal is talking about. Just leave a few uncoated
    prints lying around for a couple of months, and you can watch them
    brown out & fade away....we shoot mostly Type 55, but I shoot some 54
    from time to time, and it's a great film for proofing TMX, and doing
    quickie shots that you plan to scan.
     
  8. I've the following three sources of information that coated Polaroid
    has a longer expected lifetime.

    <p>

    First, direct observation, the same as what DK described.

    <p>

    Second, a book (Storing, Handling and Preserving Polaroid Photographs:
    A Guide) published by Polaroid in 1983. This document has several
    references to stability. On page 17, it says "While the coaterless
    prints are particularly convenient for certain applications, they are
    somewhat more susceptible than properly coated prints to damage by
    chemical contaminants. Thus, special care should be taken to protect
    them from exposure to excessive light and from harmful chemical and
    environmental influences...For improved longevity, prints can be
    carefully washed under cold running water for about 30 seconds, and
    then hung to air dry." I suspect residual reagent - - which coaters
    neutralize - - is the culprit here. Further, on page 41, under the
    subject of restoring damaged photographs, one finds "A soiled print
    made with coaterless black and white film should be washed in water
    and allowed to dry...Sometimes print coating, using a regular Polaroid
    print coater, will help to improve the appearance of a print that has
    been slightly soiled. (Note: While coating a print of this type may
    improve image stability somewhat, it will not give the same high image
    stability that is associated with prints for which the coater is
    intended.)"

    <p>

    Finally, in late 1998, wondering whether there were any changes to
    materials which might make the 1983 book obsolete, I called Polaroid's
    technical support people. They advised that information provided in
    that book was still current, since the materials it covers were
    unchanged.

    <p>

    So, in addition to the different curve shapes and differing D-Max
    capabilities of these films, which might argue against the coaterless
    versions on aesthetic grounds alone, Polaroid clearly admits that 52
    and 55 are the films to use for long life expectancy.
     
  9. My experience with the longevity of Polaroid 53 has been good. This
    is, of course, no guarantee that the Type 53 will continue to last or
    that it will last as long as Type 52. I just carefully examined the
    Polaroids that I made in 1987, when I used both Type 52 and Type 53.
    (I think 1987 is about when Type 53 was introduced.) All of the prints
    look excellent and no one examining any of them would think that they
    had deteriorated. Some of the Type 53 prints are slightly
    warm-toned; I don't know whether this is original (from the
    fine-grain) or incipient deterioration. The slight warm-tone looks
    better for some of the subjects.
     
  10. I have never seen warm tones on a fresh 53. It's most likely evidence
    of deterioration.
     
  11. It's no wonder 52 survives. It has a tonal range beyond anything except old printing out papers. It's true it requires coating, but I have more than a thousand pictures taken on this film back in the summer of 1965 and they are still sharp black. When scanned in, the manipulation of the image shows still more detail than is visible to the naked eye. Absolutely incredible stuff!
    00F43g-27857084.jpg
     

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