Instant Film Makes A Comeback

Mobile phone apps like Instagram have made it possible to make our digital images look “vintage” using filters and effects, but they can’t quite capture the particular nostalgic quality of actual film. Photography lovers have mourned the loss of Polaroid instant film since it was discontinued in 2008. Several former employees teamed up to experiment with a new kind of instant film with the Impossible Project in 2010, allowing many owners of vintage cameras to keep taking pictures. The film is available at select camera stores around the world, but might be more for those who appreciate the art of film rather than speed: color pictures take up to a half-hour to develop.

Next month, the Impossible Project will take digital old-school when it introduces the Instant Lab, an app and tool that will allow you to print analog instant photos right from your iPhone. The device will be exhibited at Photoville, a pop-up photography “destination” in Brooklyn September 19 to 29, and available for purchase soon. The Instant Lab could be perfect for travelers who want to travel light with a camera phone but keep their trip photos from collecting dust on a hard drive.

Route 66 Polaroid Project Aims To Capture The Mother Road The Old-Fashioned Way

There have been a lot of cool Kickstarter Projects in recent months, but this one will warm the heart of anyone who likes a good old-fashioned road trip. The Route 66 Polaroid Project is just what it says on the tin: a plan to drive the length of the famous highway taking Polaroid snapshots all the way.

Eric and Sarah are getting married in June and they’re heading down The Mother Road for their honeymoon. They’re going to be bringing along several Polaroid cameras to document their journey.

As they explain on their Kickstarter page, “Over the past year, we’ve set aside our digital cameras in favor of vintage Polaroid cameras. These gadgets hearken back to a simpler time when you’d cock the camera, take the shot, yank the picture out of the camera, wait a couple of minutes, peel it, let it dry and then *presto* you’d have your photo! OK, maybe it wasn’t simpler, but there was a certain almost instant gratification to it.”

It turns out Fuji still makes film for the ColorPack Polaroid cameras, and Eric and Sarah want to share their photos with you. If you back them for $10, you get a unique Polaroid shot sent directly to you from a town along the road with a description of the place written on the back. Higher-level sponsors get more photos.

Eric also runs the Civil War Daily Gazette blog, an addictive site giving a day-by-day account of the war 150 years later. Route 66 passes by several Civil War battlefields and you can bet he’ll be taking snapshots of them.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Gadling @CES2010 — Polaroid moves back to its roots

Polaroid invited me to their VIP event at CES. Instead of gathering everyone behind a crowded booth on the show floor, the company rented the 12,600 sq. ft. Conrad Hilton Sky Villa (where Barry Manilow normally sleeps). Polaroid is not the same company it used to be – the original Polaroid went bankrupt (twice), and after years of uncertainty, the remaining parts of the iconic brand were picked up by investment firms Hilco and Gordon Brothers. The Polaroid brand is one of the most powerful in the world, in the charts with Coca Cola and Apple, so the joint owners are very well aware of its potential.

At the 2010 CES, Polaroid announced several cool new developments:

  • The return of the original instant camera and instant film
  • Expansion of their ZINK portable instant printer lineup

The return of the instant camera and film

When Polaroid announced the closure of the remaining instant film production facilities, fans all around the world were crushed. Sure – Polaroid instant cameras had mostly been replaced by digital photography, but the original Polaroid camera still had a massive following. The prints were recognizable all over the world, and almost everyone in the US had their photo taken with a Polaroid at one point in their life.

Hardcore fans put together a plan to purchase the equipment from the new owners of Polaroid, and signed a lease for the old production plant in the Netherlands. This has now evolved into something pretty cool – Polaroid is bringing back the instant camera. Later this year, the new Polaroid PIC 1000 will hit store shelves. It looks and feels exactly like you’d expect from a Polaroid, and it will still take the original 600 instant film. The camera comes from Polaroid (and one of their partners) and the film is being produced by “The Impossible Project”.

Expansion of the ZINK printer lineup

Polaroid was the first company in the world to produce a product using ZINK technology. ZINK stand for “Zero Ink” and the technology produces small prints from a printer with no ink (hence the name). Until now, the Polaroid PoGo printers only produced tiny 2″ x 3″ prints, and at that size, they are pretty useless. Sure – the final product looks decent (often a bit dull), and it takes about a minute to make a print, but it is still cool to see the technology in action.

Later this year, the “tiny print” problem will go away, thanks to a new 3″ x 4″ ZINK printer. Of course, the print speed will most likely be the same, and they will suffer from the same fairly high price per print as the current generation, but I’m happy to see some more developments in the technology. Polaroid ZINK printers are available as pocket printer (with USB and Bluetooth) and built into a camera.

Polaroid returns with a pocket camera that prints

The Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera is where, at last, Polaroid meets digital photography. As you may know, Polaroid collapsed as digital cameras became the new must-have, but the company has been revamped and is coming out with forward-thinking products.

You may have heard about the PoGo ZINK, Polaroid’s pocket photo printer (Scott has featured it in his Daily gear deals) but that has to be connected to your camera via USB. Now, the camera and printer are one again, and for under $200.

  • A bit more about the Polaroid PoGo:
  • 5.0 megapixels
  • 3″ LCD screen
  • 4x zoom
  • Fixed and macro focus
  • Digital red-eye removal and cropping features
  • Self-timer
  • Printer is inkless, in the Polaroid tradition (“ZINK” means “zero-ink”)
  • Prints 2″ x 3″ peel-off sticky-backed photos in about 30 seconds
  • Option to print date, file number, or a variety of borders
  • Compatible with Mac or PC for all your usual digital photo needs

Model CZA-05300B is available from for the discounted price of $179.88, and qualifies for free shipping. The paper for printing is $19.99 for a pack of 80 sheets. Our only qualm? You don’t have to shake the picture for it to develop. That’s oddly disappointing for the nostalgic like us — but we’ll get over it (maybe we’ll shake it anyway).

Instant photography is not dead (yet)

Several days ago, I wrote about the death of the Polaroid instant camera, and the attempts to bring the iconic instant camera back from the dead.

Turns out that may not be necessary for everyone, as Fujifilm jumped into the void left behind by Polaroid with their new Instax 200 instant camera.

The concept is very much like the Land cameras sold by Polaroid; you insert a film cartridge, make a photo, and a minute later you have a colorful print of whatever you snapped.

The camera itself is a pleasantly low $49.95, but film cartridges will run you $21.95 for a twin pack of 10 prints. For comparison – Polaroid cartridges cost about 50 cents more for the same number of sheets.

The camera itself has received a favorable review from the folks at B&H Photo, which is where you’ll also find it in stock, if you want to continue your tradition of instant prints. Of course, real Polaroid lovers will probably never settle for anything other than the real thing!

Naturally, technology will eventually replace the chemical process used in these instant cameras, and one the first cameras using a new digital instant print system dubbed “Zink” recently appeared on Japenese store shelves.

That same technology also powers a pocket digital printer made by Polaroid as well as their own version of a digital camera with an integrated printer.