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Polaroid has experienced a bit of a renaissance of late. Though the original Polaroid company stopped producing film in 2009, another company bought the Polaroid name and relaunched the brand in a flurry of press and celebrity endorsement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year.
The Polaroid 300 is not quite the camera it promised at CES; it's essentially a Polaroid-branded version of a Fujifilm Instax that has been around for a fair few years now. It uses instant film, but it's not the same as the re-engineered instant film developed by The Impossible Project.
There's something appealingly quirky about the look of the Polaroid 300. Whether it's the bulging curves or the comical colours, it's pretty difficult to look at this camera without breaking out into a bit of a smile; just as beneficial for the photographer as the subject. The camera comes in black, blue and red, and while it's a bit scarce on overall features it's arguably the lack of bells and whistles that is Polaroid's ultimate appeal.
There are four scene settings, selectable via the top dial, ranging from "indoor" to "fine", which you choose depending on the ambient light and shooting situation. There is no battery to worry about, with all power being drawn from the film cartridge, which uses ISO 800 glossy finish film.
In each film package (note the camera doesn't come with any film to start you off) there are just 10 shots. Once the lens element is pulled out to turn the camera on, the shutter button at the front is activated and when it's pressed, a single frame is exposed and emerges at the top of the camera, just like you remember.
As is usually the case when products make it to our fair shores, the price discrepancy between the US and Australia is enormous. A product that's available for US$89.99 translates to AU$149.95 and a packet of instant film for US$9.99 becomes AU$19.95. So, for AU$2 per print, is the Polaroid 300 worth it?
Yes and no. On the plus side, the image quality is surprisingly good. Images stick to the traditional Polaroid aesthetic, with slightly desaturated colours and ethereal light. The lens is also surprisingly sharp, though the film size at 2.1x3.4 inches can hide a multitude of flaws. It is difficult to see past the fact that this is a remarkably similar camera to the Fujifilm though, apart from the obvious colour changes, which makes the steep asking price all the more difficult to swallow.
So if your pockets are lined with gold and you don't mind forking out AU$2 per print, the Polaroid 300 is a lovely reminder of all that's great about instant analog photography. Now we'll wait with bated breath to see what other cameras the "new" Polaroid will come up with.