Everything analog is new again.
Like vinyl records and cassette tapes, instant film cameras are growing in popularity after initially being brought down by digital. In 2008, the Impossible Project brought back instant film for Polaroid cameras after Polaroid ceased making film. And now, having acquired the brand and intellectual property of the original Polaroid corporation in May, it's making its first camera under the name.
The Polaroid Originals OneStep 2, like the first OneStep from 1977, is a simple point-and-shoot analog instant film camera. There is a built-in flash, (a vacuum discharge tube strobe, to be precise) along with a switch to increase or decrease exposure and a self-timer, but that's it for controls aside from the shutter release and power switch. The fixed-focus 106mm lens is made from optical grade polycarbonate and acrylic with a range of 60cm (about 2 feet) to infinity.
Unlike some newer instant cameras like the Fujifilm Instax SQ10 or Polaroid Snap, there is nothing digital this camera. (A Micro-USB port on the camera is for charging the internal battery and nothing else.) Every shot you take results in a film print. Film packs load through a drop-down door on front and the camera can be used with old Polaroid film packs as well as Impossible's color and black-and-white I-type and 600-type film. That means you get much larger prints compared to Fujifim's Instax Mini and SQ10 cameras.
Polaroid Originals has a new generation of film, too, which "features the distinct, dreamy aesthetic of analog instant photography." The company also said shots will fully develop faster than its older film, which can take up to 30 minutes for color photos. And shaking them won't help: The film should be developed face-down and shielded from direct light. There's even a tongue on the front of the camera that unfurls with each shot to protect the film as it ejects from the front of the camera.
I got a chance to use the camera and, like the original, it is an instant film camera for everyone. There's a slight learning curve when it comes to framing, and you want to have a ton of light available for the best results. It's also not a small camera, which might keep you from bringing it with you. Otherwise, it's a great experience if you like the unpredictability of it all and the potential for happy accidents. Plus, people still love waiting and watching shots develop -- myself included.
Price always seems to be the biggest hurdle with instant cameras since the film is relatively expensive, and the OneStep 2 is no different. While the camera is reasonably priced at $100 and £110 in the UK, which converts to about AU$125 for Australia, the I-type film is $16 for a eight-shot pack or $2 a picture. That's lower than it was, but still pricey if you're used to the shoot-all-you-want experience of digital photography. You will be able to get a double pack of I-type film for $30 or a triple pack for $40.
You can preorder the camera now or wait until mid-October when it arrives in stores, including Target and Best Buy.