It’s unbelievably satisfying to take polaroid pictures; they have a nostalgic appearance that enhances happy memories. While the memories are priceless, the camera and film can be expensive, so we want to take care of them. To do that, we need to know how to properly store both your Instax camera and your Instax film.
Fujifilm Instax cameras should be stored in a protective case where they won’t be knocked off or have anything drop on them such as on a low shelf or in a drawer. Instax film should be stored in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight in temperatures between 41℉ and 104℉ (5℃ and 40℃). Instax film can be stored in a refrigerator to prolong its life and should never to be stored in a freezer.
Keep reading to learn the best places to store your Instax camera and film, the worst places you could possibly put them (but probably did!), and the temperatures that your camera and film can withstand.
Where Should You Store an Instax Camera?
The best place to store your Instax camera is in its protective case in a dry, cool location and away from direct sunlight. Instax cameras themselves should also be stored on the ground, on a low shelf, or in a drawer where it can’t be dropped or nothing can fall on it.
Although these cameras are less prone to breaking than older polaroid models, they are not waterproof and aren’t made to withstand damage from falling onto a hard surface like asphalt, concrete, or a wood floor.
To help protect your camera and your investment, I recommend getting a protective case for your Instax camera like one of these on Amazon.com. These cases will offer some cushioning and may help protect the camera from a short fall, but they shouldn’t relied upon.
Where Do You Store an Unopened Instax Film Pack?
Instax film should always be stored in a dry, cool location and out of direct sunlight. This will keep the film safe from things like:
- Extreme temperatures (less than 41℉ or 5℃ and more than 104℉ or 40℃)
- Moisture / Water
- Rips and tears
- Liquid stains
In environment location, your Instax film will have no problem lasting to the printed expiration date and possibly even 2-3 years after.
How Does Temperature Affect Instant Film?
While you are storing your unused instant film, extreme heat or extreme cold will damage the film. But what would be extreme temperatures for Instax or polaroid film? Your film should be stored in temperatures between 41℉ and 104℉ (or 5℃ and 40℃). After your photos have been developed, they should be stored within the same range of temperatures as the unused film.
Warm weather can be a benefit to shooting instant film because it will speed up the development of the photograph once it is ejected from the camera. However, if your film is exposed to temperatures higher than 104℉ (40℃) storage or while in use the photos will have:
- Muted colors
- Low contrast
- An orange-ish tone
- a slight haze or be fogged
If your film is exposed to temperatures below 41℉ (5℃) when storing or shooting, the cold will slow down the development process, and if it gets cold enough, the chemical pods in the film will become too cold to spread evenly over the image to prevent it from developing correctly or protect the image from sunlight. In and extreme situation, the film could also become brittle and break.
Very low temperatures may also produce a green tint to your photos because, during the prolonged development, the blue layer on top didn’t fade away entirely as designed, which will produce results similar to speeding up the expiration date.
Do You Need to Keep Instax Film in a fridge?
Unlike batteries, you can extend the life of your Instax film by putting them in the fridge but not in the freezer. Most of the time, your unused film will be perfectly fine so long as you store them in a cool, dry, and dark location and out of sunlight. However, if you don’t have such a place, you can put the film in the fridge wrapped in the foil they came in and kept in their box. If you take the foil off, you risk your film deteriorating faster.
Keeping Instax film in the fridge
Unless you you tend to let your film expire without using it, the refrigerator will preserve them better than in a closet or on the countertop since it keeps your film out of direct sunlight and in a dry, cool place. Remember before using instant film stored in a fridge, set it out and let it warm up to room temperature for at least 1 – 2 hours before using it so the developing chemicals in the film will work correctly.
What about keeping your instant film in the freezer?
While the fridge can keep your instant film good a little longer, the freezer will damage instant film. At worst, the extreme cold may cause the chemical pods in your undeveloped instant film to burst or, at the very least, damage the developing chemical pods in the film.
Is it Okay to Leave Film in an Instax Camera?
Yes, it is okay to leave your opened film in your Instax camera when not using it and it’s the only place you should store opened film.
Once a roll of film is opened the more susceptible it is to light and moisture. If have opened a package of the instant film, you need to place it in your camera, close the door, and keep it in the camera. As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, instant film is usually stored in the same conditions as the camera anyway (in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight), so there’s no reason to separate your camera and the film you have in use.
Can I Insert an Instax Film Cartridge in the Daylight?
Yes, you can insert instax film into a camera in the daylight without ruining your film because of the film cover in the film pack. However, it is a good idea to insert your film into the camera in a low light environment to be on the safeside like in a room with the lights off or in a shadow if you are outside.
Each new Instax film cartridge has a black piece of paper that covers the film in the cartridge and protects it from light until the film cartridge is inserted into the camera. Once you turn on the camera, it will eject the film cover and only then is the camera film susceptible to light. This is why you don’t want to open the film camera door once you load the camera with film and the film cover has ejected.
How Long Does Instax Film Last Inside the Camera?
Once a fresh cartridge is inserted, the film in the camera will last to the expiration date on the package while in the camera because the conditions it’s exposed to will be the same as the unused film cartridges are exposed to if you stored the camera right. The film will even be useable after the expiration date for a while until the photos you develop start losing their quality.
For the most part, the film in use in your camera will still be good each time you want to use it, even if you only take pictures occasionally throughout the year. Just never open the film door.
Where Should I Keep Developed Film?
If you want to avoid damage to your photos, store them in a cool, dry place and not in direct sunlight. If a closet or drawer isn’t an option, try opting for an acid-free archive storage box or a photo album made to hold instant film after your instant film have had several months to fully dry. Wherever you choose to store them, make sure they’re stored flat. If you follow our advice, Fujifilm (who makes Instax) says your photos will likely last up to 80 years.
How to Protect Your Developed Instax Film?
When you have physical photos, you are safe from having them accidentally erased from your computer or phone, but they are still exposed to the following threats:
- Physical damage (i.e. rips and stains)
- Extreme temperatures
- Direct sunlight
By knowing what to avoid, such as moisture and direct sunlight, you’ll know not only how to store them but how to keep yourself from accidentally causing damage.
After your photos are dry, never cut them! It exposes the interior film to the oxygen, humidity, and other molecules in the air and causes it to deteriorate much quicker, even if you do store them properly. Cutting can also cause the chemicals in the film to leak and these chemicals are toxic.
You should also avoid x-rays, such as used in the scanners at security in the airport, because they will fog or lower the contrast of your film. If you travel by plane, put the photos and camera (if loaded with film) in your carry-on in a clear, plastic bag and ask for a hand check when going through security. See this article for more information about flying safely with film.
Laminating your photos may be just the extra protection you’re looking for even though they’re already laminated to keep the chemicals and ink inside. Extra laminating will protect your instant images from liquid, tears, hand oils, and dust. Be aware that laminated your film won’t protect them from sunlight. Before laminating your instant film make sure you let them dry out completely by laying them out (not in direct sunlight) for at least 3 months.
Thankfully, modern Instax film is tougher than the old polaroids we had several decades ago. Nevertheless, we want these precious memories to last long after we’re gone and treasured by our loved ones. Keep Instax film from fading or disintegrating by keeping the film out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry, place and in a acid-free storage box or a photo album designed for Instax Mini, Square, or Wide film.