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Polaroid takes the analog digital with OneStep+ instant film camera

A new app keeps Polaroid relevant for 2018.

Katie Collins/CNET
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Think analog photography is dead? Think again.

Ten years ago, a plucky group of Polaroid fans founded the Impossible Project to keep their favorite form of photography alive after Polaroid announced it was shuttering its film factory.

Initially the Impossible Project just made film, but in 2017, the same year its largest shareholder bought the brand and intellectual property of the original Polaroid company, the Impossible Project released its first camera with Polaroids Originals branding: the OneStep 2. This year it's back with the OneStep+, a camera that retains the essence of the OneStep 2 but adds a number of features that'll keep it relevant for 2018's digital natives.

These are centred around the Polaroid Originals companion app that links with the camera via a dedicated "+" button next to the lens. Hit the button and the camera links seamlessly with your phone via Bluetooth.

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Bluetooth connectivity adds new digital features to the analog camera.

Katie Collins/CNET

The app has a number of features, including a remote trigger, a self timer, double exposure, light painting (which utilizes your phone's flashlight) and a noise trigger. For the those who want to get even more experimental, there's also a manual mode, which lets you play with the shutter speed, aperture, flash and eject (allowing you to manually do double or even triple exposures if you prefer).

Unlike with a digital camera, you obviously can't play around with these manual settings until you get the desired effect, without getting through a whole bunch of Polaroid film. To make this less daunting, the Polaroid app also contains a number of tutorials and magazine segments offering inspiration to help you get the most out of your camera.

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The rainbow stripe is a new addition.

Katie Collins/CNET

A scanner within the app also uses your phone's camera to help you upload the best quality digital copy of your analog photo. It might sound counterintuitive, but it creates a gallery of all your artwork on your phone. It's also designed to make it easier to share your work on social media if that's your bag. One issue with a Polaroid is that usually only one person gets to keep the print -- this way any number of people can at least have a digital version.

Other than the digital elements, the OneStep+ is almost identical the OneStep Two. Almost the only discernible difference is a rainbow stripe down the faceplate, which harks back to the design of the original OneStep camera from 1977. There's also a switch just on the top of the camera that lets you toggle back and forth between two lenses -- one specifically designed for portraits, which can be used from as close as a foot away.

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You can toggle between lenses.

Katie Collins/CNET

The Polaroid Originals OneStep+ camera will be available direct and from wider retailers, priced at $160 in the US or £150 in the UK. The free Polaroid Originals app will be available from both Google Play and Apple's App Store.