How to Put Film in A Polaroid Camera (Step by Step Guide)

By Emma Johnson •  Updated: 10/12/21 •  6 min read
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For most people, the camera in their phone is more than enough to capture a fun outing with friends or a vacation with family.

But for people who have a deeper interest in photography and are looking for a specific aesthetic, polaroid cameras promise an outstanding result.

In fact, the last few years have seen a revival of the polaroid trend.

If you’re looking to join the wave, you’ve come to the right place.

This step-by-step guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to put film in a polaroid camera. So let’s get started!

How to put film in a Polaroid Camera

How to Put Film in A Polaroid Camera?

Total Time: 5 minutes

Step 1 – Storing the Film

Before you can learn how to load the film, you need to know how to handle it properly.

The film is a delicate medium to handle and easy to ruin. To stop it from warping or becoming damaged, you need to store it in a cool and dark space. 

Often, people choose to keep their film in the fridge because this increases its shelf life by three years.

Then, when you need to use it, remove it from the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature before putting it into your camera.

This shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. Under no circumstances should you freeze your film.

It won’t increase its viability but rather will damage it beyond repair.

Step 2 – Opening the Packet

Polaroid 600 Film

When it comes time to put your film in your camera, you will first need to open it. 

The cartridge will come wrapped in foil, placed in a solid box. To safely remove the film, hold this box gently from either side, without squeezing or putting any pressure on the cartridge.

Then pull it out without touching the dark slide of the film. 

Remember, this darker side exists to prevent premature exposure and doesn’t come with any metal contacts. If you touch or damage it, your film will not develop properly and may not capture the image like intended. 

The number of foil layers depends on the type of film you intend to use and how much care it requires.

If you’re getting your film shipped, it may come with added protective layers.

Step 3 – Loading the Film

Polaroid 300 Camera

The first thing you need to do to load the film into the camera is open the film compartment by pulling the switch.

You should find it on the camera’s side, right underneath the shutter button. 

As you hold the switch, the tab next to it will open up. The open flap should make the film insertion spot clearly visible.

Holding the cartridge by its sides, carefully slide it into the open compartment.

Ideally, the film will fit in perfectly, and you’ll hear it pop in place. It’s worth noting that a Polaroid camera only holds 8 sheets of film, which can be confusing as the dial still indicates there should be 10 sheets.

Remember to make sure the metal contacts face downwards and the darker slide faces upward. 

Additionally, the colored tab must face you, peaking out of the camera slot.

Step 4 – Closing the Camera

Once the cartridge is in, you should shut the compartment.

The flat should snap closed without any force, and the dark slide should pop out.

If this doesn’t happen, it means you have placed the cartridge incorrectly, and you need to go back to the previous step. 

A helpful tip is to keep the dark slide handy and use it to shield your photographs when they come out. This will help you get the best results possible and avoid potential UV damage.

Step 5 – Removing Old Film

If you’re using an old polaroid, you may need to remove a pre-existing film cartridge.

You never know what photographs the film may hold, so if there’s even a slight chance you’ll want to keep them, remove the cartridge in a darkroom. 

Make sure you have a storage space ready beforehand and that the film is not exposed to any damaging UV light.

Otherwise, simply pull out the cartridge and dispose of it.


How do you put film in an Instax Mini 9?

While the process for putting film in an Instax Mini 9 is the same as listed above, there is one additional step.

Before plugging in the film, you will need to put in two double-A batteries to get the camera started. 

These may come with the camera if it’s new.

Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase them separately. A good tip is to hold the batteries in your palm and warm them up before you insert them.  

How to put film in Instax Mini 11?

For the Instax Mini 11, the button is next to the lens instead of on the side of the camera.

Once you have the latch on the back of the camera open, the rest of the steps are the same as listed above. 

For easy loading, there’s a yellow stripe above the film compartment. Simply match up the stripes on both the camera and the film to make sure you’re inserting it the right way up.

Can you take the Polaroid film out and put it back in?

While it’s best to only remove the film after you’re done using it, you can pull out the cartridge and reinsert it if you are extremely careful.

Perhaps you want to move the film to a different camera, or there was a Polaroid flashing red issue during the shoot.

Either way, make sure you remove the film in a darkroom or zero-light room and place the cartridge directly in a black bag or the alternate polaroid camera. 

One common issue people face during this process is that the camera automatically ejects the topmost image, wasting a print. You can avoid this by putting the black card back in. 

Overall, learning how to put film in a polaroid camera is pretty easy.

So don’t waste time stressing over the details. Get your film today and start your polaroid photography journey. You won’t regret it!

Emma Johnson

I have loved photography from a young age and more recently started experimenting with Instant Cameras from Polaroid and Instax. I also love dancing and hanging out with my friends :)

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