Falling in and out of love with Polaroid!

The Polaroid Now Camera

The other day I watched “The Impossible Project” on Amazon Prime. If you have the chance to see it I recommend the film. It is largely about Dr Florian Kaps, known as “Doc” to his friends. He is the worlds leading expert on spider eye muscles, although to anyone reading this, more importantly, he is an exponent of things analogue. Most famously he is the guy that stepped up and saved the very last polaroid film production plant in the Netherlands, founding the “Impossible Project” in the process. There is little point in me regurgitating the ins and outs of the film, suffice to say that after a “buy out” he left, and moved on to other things. As the Polaroid website says “September 13th, 2017 marks the next chapter in the Polaroid story with the launch of a new brand: Polaroid Originals, dedicated to original format analogue instant photography for today” and goes on to say “the impossible project accomplished it’s mission with the launch of Polaroid originals”.

At the end of the film I felt moved enough to give it a try. Support an analogue movement, and their enthusiasm. Within a day I held a Polaroid Now White in my hand loaded with a cassette of “I-Type”, ready to go.

The I Type

The first question I had was: why is there a USB-C socket on the side of a analogue camera? The answer, it’s the charging point! The “Now” has a built in battery, and so the film doesn’t need one. This makes the i-type film a little cheaper than the 600. Thus the 600 film can be used in “Vintage Cameras” or newer ones, but the i-type with no battery is only suitable for the i-type cameras. The Now has a timer, built in flash, which can be switched off, apparently it has exposure compensation too, although I did not figure out how to get at it! That’s it, apart from a better auto focus system.

As you may well know, when you load a cassette/film into the camera it spit’s out a cover card, I deduced from mine that there are 20 to collect. Handy to encourage sales. The cassettes/films seem to be £15:99 just about everywhere, at the time of writing, so basically £2 a shot. Not cheap photography by any means. It is however, apparently, just about the most complicated man made chemical reaction you will come across in every day life!

A Selfie

First a selfie, so much for the advanced auto focus. I timed my selfie to coincide with a nuclear explosion, so it seems. Not a promising start, but I continued. Unlike the Polaroid from the 80’s the images take about 15 minuets to develop. I think they continue to improve for a good hour after that too. I’ve read the system likes bright light and bold colour, so I moved on, the deep blue sky.

Blue Sky
A deep red fiesta!

The scans above have added a bit of punch to the image, in reality they are a little flatter and lacking a good black. The car was also red not orange. There are a few little chemical artefacts here and there too, but that is part of the joy of analogue, you never quite know what you’re going to get!

There is a fun part to this, it is good fun making a picture, having it develop, if not in front of your eyes, then very nearly. Analogue is cool right now, but for me it always has been! In some ways the less predictable “Impossible” film was even better in this respect. I encourage anyone who fancies having ago, to do just that. It’s fun. However, and yes, I have a however. For me, when I learn that Polaroid Originals has more quietly become just Polaroid again, and that they are keen to inform us on their website that the i-type film is “… made with pride in the Netherlands.” They repeat this when you look at “Go” films and 600 film. They don’t mention that the cameras are made in China, in fact judging by the size of the “made in” printed on the box, they seem ashamed of it – I had to put two pairs of glasses on to read it! Then I learn that the current management didn’t even invite Doc Florian to the re-launch, my enthusiasm becomes a bit diminished. A bit more reading reveals that, Polaroid also sell 4k TV’s, Bluetooth dye sub printers, and sell a digital music player, I’m left wondering how committed they are to analogue at all, and if it’s not just another large business cashing in, jumping on the analogue band wagon. Then they have a radio channel and an app, available on Google play too, I start to feel that my £2 a shot might be better spent elsewhere. Somewhere that is committed to analogue, ANALOGUE WONDERLAND for example!

Perhaps, yes perhaps, my best and last Polaroid Photo

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