Can You Leave Film In A Polaroid Camera? How Long Film Lasts

By Mark Plummer •  Updated: 10/14/22 •  6 min read
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Once the film pack is opened and placed into the Polaroid, it is highly susceptible to the sun and moisture. If you want the best quality pictures available, it is necessary to protect the film at all costs, even if you do not use the camera daily.

But can you leave the film in a polaroid camera?

Can You Leave Film In A Polaroid Camera
Can You Leave Film In A Polaroid Camera?

Once the film pack designed for a Polaroid camera is opened, the only safe place to store the film will be in the camera. Leaving the film is the only way to keep an open film pack. It does have a set life of 2 weeks, maximum of two months, before being used altogether.

Does Polaroid film expire? Polaroid film is not designed to last a long time once it is opened, and even when unopened, it has an optimum use life of 12 months from the date it was produced.

Let’s look at ways to improve the picture quality before and after opening the film pack.

Leaving The Film In A Polaroid Camera

Once the film pack is broken open, the insulated packaging will no longer be able to protect it from the sun, rain, snow, and other moisture that commonly destroy the film.

Leaving The Film In A Polaroid Camera
Leaving The Film In A Polaroid Camera

The film should be immediately installed into the camera and remain there until the film has been used up. 

  • Shelf Life – From the time the film is manufactured until it is opened, the shelf life of every type is one year from the date stamped on the package.
  • Use Life – Once the film pack has been opened and installed, you look at a life of about two weeks for optimal pictures, but it can be left in the camera for up to two months.
  • How much film can a Polaroid holda modern design Polaroid camera holds up to eight sheets of film, which is two less than the Original Polaroid cameras.

The life of the film will also depend on how it is stored.

Before it is opened, it is suggested to keep it in the fridge, with it being placed flat on one of the shelves. It can never be frozen, though. Otherwise, the chemicals inside the pack that activate the picture will be destroyed.

That means if you load it into the camera and take a snapshot, it will not be visible; if it is, it will not be impressive.

Can The Film In A Polaroid Camera Be Kept For Later?

Since the life of the Polaroid Camera film is decreased by a drastic amount after it is opened, it would be great if you were able to take it out and store it until needed. It is a great thing, and it is more than possible to do so as long as the correct steps are taken. 

Can The Film In A Polaroid Camera Be Kept For Later
Can The Film In A Polaroid Camera Be Kept For Later?
  • Make sure you are in a dark, moisture-free area before you remove the film.
  • Once in such an area, it is safe to open the camera and take the unused film out.
  • Please place it in a dark container with a lid, and keep it face down. Cover and seal.
  • Store your instant film in the refrigerator, or another cool place, as long as it stays between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once it is closed and sealed safely against the light, the refrigerator will keep it in good shape for an added month or two. Maybe even longer, depending on the fridge and container.

When you reinstall it into a camera, you will want to start in a dark, damp-free area and reverse the steps above. 

How Do You Store Film In The Camera

Storing Polaroid film after it has been put into the camera is not as easy as just throwing it into a drawer or on top of the desk.

Any heat or moisture will damage the film, taking horrible pictures.

How Do You Store Film In The Camera
How Do You Store Film In The Camera

You may not want to store the camera in the fridge, but there are a few steps that you need to take to ensure the film stays in usable condition.

  • Camera Case – You will want a case to store the Polaroid to keep the film in good shape. When out in the sun, put a small ice pack in the bag, but not directly next to it. This keeps the camera cool and ready for use.
  • Cool Area – While storing the camera and film, the camera should be kept inside the case and placed in a cool area. The temperature should not be over 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so even if it is left in a drawer, it may not stay cool enough to optimize the quality of the picture.
  • Dry Area – Another aspect of storage is the moisture level. The place where you keep the camera should be in a dry area, but not one that is stagnant. Once again, a dresser drawer is wrong because the air inside will become stale and too dry unless it is opened often. 

Storing the camera is just as important as holding the film before you use it.

If you want the best picture possible, the film will need to be kept cool, regardless of where it is. The cooler the film is, the better the image it will take, as long as it does not get frozen.

If you are keeping things in the fridge, keep an eye on the internal temperatures.


Leaving the film in a Polaroid camera is not something you should take lightly, but it is safe if you follow the stipulations.

It would be silly to take the unused portion of the film out every time you are done with the camera. It would leave the film open for a better chance of becoming damaged the more it is handled.

The film needs to be kept cool at all times.

Even if you go to the beach and decide to hang out in the sun, the Polaroid will need to be kept cool. Not only to ensure that the camera does not become damaged by the heat but to keep the film in optimal condition so you can take great pictures all the time.

Mark Plummer

Mark Plummer is a co-founder and blogger on Instant Cameras. Together with his wife, Susana, and daughter Scarlett he loves capturing special family moments with his Instax Mini 11. He is passionate about sharing knowledge and tips on Instax and Polaroid cameras through the Instant Camera Blog.

Keep Reading