Remember the good ‘ole Polaroid instant cameras of yesteryear? Long before the age of selfies and instant gratification, there were these cameras (a marvel of technology at the time) that would print out a picture right after taking it. They were the first party/selfie cameras around In a time before the whole selfie craze took over the world. If you’re over the ripe age of 30, I’m sure you had some fun playing around with your parents old One Step, or Land Camera At some point. Maybe you even had your own. Either way, I’m sure you can still remember that feeling of seeing the picture you just took magically develop right in front of your eyes. I think these cameras, more than anything else at the time, had a profound impact on my photography at the time. The first word that comes to mind, is “magical”.
Falling into obscurity at the dawn of the digital age, Polaroid are back with some exciting new products, and are hoping to recapture some of that magic. We were lucky enough to have a chance to try out two of their new products before the official Japan launch next month.
First up is the SNAP! Instant Camera – the modern-day version of the instant cameras of the past. It is the perfect blend of nostalgia and modern technology. I remember the size and heft of the old cameras and being somewhat hesitant to carry them with me. Not so with the new version. It is incredibly lightweight and thanks to some well thought out ergonomic design, is a joy to operate. Right after taking it out of the box, you’ll be drawn to the fun and creative possibilities it offers.
Here are some of its features in a nutshell:
- 10 Megapixel
- Easy to Use
- Micro SD Storage up to 32GB
- 2×3″ Full-Colour prints (Zero Ink Technology)
- 3 colour modes: Normal, B&W, Vintage
- Magnetic Lens Cap
- Self-Timer (So you can get in the shot with your mates easily)
In addition, the cameras come in 4 colours: White, Black, Blue, and Red.
For printing options, you can choose to print full-size, or to print with the classic Polaroid Border at the bottom (to write personal messages).
There’s also a Photo Booth mode, which takes 6 quick pictures in 10 seconds.
The camera itself and has some interesting features. The reason why most people will buy it, however, is for the instant printing option. Once the battery is charged, there’s no need for a computer at all. Just load the paper with the blue (“index”) card at the bottom into the camera, and after taking a picture, the image(s) print(s) automagically using the new Zero Ink Technology. That means no more waving the picture back and forth, or blowing on it. It’s already dry when it prints!
Let’s imagine you forgot to refill the paper, or just ran out. In the olden days, your photography session would’ve just ended. Luckily we live in the age of miniaturisation, and cheap memory cards though. Catching onto this trend, Polaroid smartly gives you the option of saving the pics to a micro SD via a slot on the side. Clever!
Due to the streamlined design, the colour options, the almost imperceptible weight, and the fun of being able to have an actual printed picture in less than a minute, I can definitely see this become a huge hit with the young, hip crowd at parties and social gatherings. People 30 and above will also appreciate the nostalgic feeling the camera gives them.
The only caveat I could mention here is the size of the prints, however. They are quite small compared to the prints of the olden days. It’s a great novelty, but personally I would’ve liked slightly larger prints. That’s really nitpicking, however. Overall, it’s a really fun, and easy to use instant camera with a lot of potential to transform any social situation, and hopefully get people to interact beyond the boundaries of their smart phone screens (again).
Next up is the Polaroid Zip instant photo printer. This little gizmo is something that really got me excited, and I had a chance to bring it with me on a press trip to Kumamoto during the testing period.
Using the same streamlined design, and even being a tad lighter than the Snap! This printer is also feather-light, and was a joy to carry around in my camera bag. The main draw of this printer is the ability to instantly print out pictures from your cell phone via a bluetooth connection.
Since everyone and their dog have smartphones with capable cameras built in these days, this product has a lot of potential to shake up the market. There are similar such printers already available, but this being Polaroid (the purveyors of the instant print), the quality of the printed pictures are phenomenal for something in such a small package.
It’s quite easy to connect the printer to your phone via bluetooth. A quick download of the Polaroid app from your App Store of choice, and you’re in business. The app, while useful in itself – is, of course, best when paired with the printer. It allows you to see the battery charge left on the printer, number of printable sheets left in the device, and has some basic retouching options before either (re-) saving, or printing the pictures.
Here are all the features of the Zip in a nutshell:
- Ability to print anywhere
- Lightweight (coming in at only 0.41lbs!)
- Easy paring via Bluetooth or NFC
- Paired with a free app for easy editing and printing
- Printing takes less than 60 seconds
- Uses Zink Zero Ink Paper (2″x3″; no drying time)
- Great, vibrant colours in the prings
- Clean, Simple, and Streamlined design
- Good battery life (rechargeable via USB)
Another new product, which is in the works at Polaroid right now is the Polaroid Cube, which is a lifestyle action camera a la GoPro. It’s quite different though and aimed at a very different audience. While the GoPro has established itself as an action camera with the adventure sports crowd, the Cube is hoping to change that up with a choice of colours, and easy to use mechanics. Both splash, and shock proof, and having many possible accessories behind it, the Cube seems like great fun to use as well. If you’re interested, here’s some more info: Polaroid Cube
The first time I saw the printer (and both cameras), I thought there was something familiar about it, even though I had never seen these devices before. Well, if there is some familiarity, or a faint feeling of deja vu, it’s because the design studio is headed by Robert Brunner, who was the mastermind behind the wildly popular Beats headphones.
I had the chance to fully try out the printer during a recent Press Trip to Kumamoto (story will be up shortly) recently, and saw first-hand the potential for this little printer to bring joy to various people. During the trip, we had the opportunity to stay with locals on an organic farm, and the sheer joy of receiving an instantly printed group picture as a small thank you and memory of the time together was written all over their faces. More so than having some fun with it at parties, that in itself is what this printer representsk to me – to give something tangible to people and brighten their day. I love technology that can accomplish this simple feat, and truly appreciated having the printer with me during this trip. I have a feeling that a Zip will soon have a very special spot in my camera bag, and will go with me to every photo shoot. It’s just a joy to use, and great for interacting with people, or to bring a quick smile to their face(s).
Unfortunately I had to send both products back to the company after testing, but I will definitely pick up the printer (ZiP), and possibly the Snap as well, once they become available in Japan later this April. Keep a lookout for these products in your favourite camera and lifestyle stores. I’m sure they’ll become a big hit not only in Japan.