Can You Enlarge the Pictures From a Polaroid Instant Camera?
By Sophie Southern
Updated February 09, 2017
Polaroid instant film cameras are convenient, but the photos they produce are small. As Polaroid uses instant film, that also means you only get one positive print each time you take a photo. Trying to make a copy or an enlargement with one small Polaroid is nearly impossible, because Polaroids don't have negatives, but several methods and one special type of film allow you to get around this limitation.
Film Photograph Enlargements
Traditional -- meaning film-based -- photographic enlargements work by making multiple positives from one original negative. This negative positive process makes it easy to make as many reprints as desired in multiple sizes, with the largest print size depending on the format of the film. The film is put into an enlarger, which is the instrument that uses light to project the negative image onto photo paper. The enlarger moves up and down to change the size of the image. As the majority of Polaroid film does not use a negative, it is not possible to make traditional enlargements.
Polaroid Type 55 is a special type of instant film that includes a negative and a print, usually in 4x5 or 8x10 format film. Type 55 uses a peel-apart system, with one half contains the Polaroid print and the other half containing the negative. If you happen to be using Polaroid Type 55 film, you can make a photographic enlargement from the negative. It is important to note that Type 55 negatives have a shorter archival lifespan compared with traditional photographic film.
One easy way to enlarge a Polaroid photo is to use a scanner. Scanning the photo at a high resolution allows you to print out a copy that is larger than the original. The final output size depends on the quality of the scanner you are using and its maximum DPI, along with the maximum size paper for your printer. Another option for enlarging through scanning is to take your photo to a professional lab to have it scanned and printed.
If you don't have access to a scanner, you can also make enlargements from a Polaroid by making a copy slide. Traditionally, copy slides refer to using slide film to take a photograph of a print, at which point enlargements can be made from the slide. Although this method still works very well you can also use a digital camera to make a copy slide of your Polaroid. Put the Polaroid on a completely flat surface, such as on the floor or taped to the wall, and make sure that the light is hitting all four corners of the print evenly. If you don't have access to a flash, sunlight in the middle of the day works well. Get as close to the Polaroid as possible with your digital camera and take a picture.
Sophie Southern has been a freelance writer since 2004. Her writing has been featured in "JPG" magazine and on Zlio.com. Southern holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the School of Visual Arts.