Polaroid has just announced and released the Polaroid I-2, an instant camera with a full suite of user controls, a new lens, an informative viewfinder, and a significant price tag. With the I-2, Polaroid is targeting instant film shooters who want more control and better quality than that typically provided by simpler instant cameras.
I haven’t gotten my hands on a Polaroid I-2 quite yet. When I have, I’ll write up a comprehensive review. Until then, here’s the pertinent details of Polaroid’s newest camera, and some educated thoughts on the same.
The key features which make the Polaroid I-2 unique in the brand’s lineup are these :
The camera is an entirely new machine, developed in-house at Polaroid. It offers the full suite of user controls, including shutter, aperture, automatic, and full manual control. In addition, it has controls for exposure compensation, auto-focus (using Lidar), a built-in flash, and a fully informative viewfinder with pretty, orange LEDs, a new lens, and a price of $599.
The new Polaroid I-2 looks amazing! It’s beautiful. I’m excited to use it and see if the promise of user controls, a nice lens, accurate auto-focus, and that lovely viewfinder add up to what should be (logically) the best Polaroid shooting experience available today.
I’ve reviewed almost every Polaroid camera that’s been released in the last fifty years, including the new, post-rebirth Polaroid cameras. I’ve enjoyed many of them and been frustrated by many others. Typically my frustrations stem from a lack of user controls, the unpredictability of the resulting images, and the cost of shooting Polaroid film when so many of the shots are wasted and useless (often a result of bad film). I’ve written whole articles about these frustrations.
With Polaroid’s new I-2, it seems that some of these frustrations may be assuaged. The added user controls will help. The fact that the camera is new (and not a crusty, old relic from 1980) will help. And that new lens will help.
But there’s a big red flag in Polaroid’s marketing material for their newest, fanciest camera. They’re still leaning into the imperfection angle. They write that the camera is “Made for the Imperfectionists.” That’s code for “Our film is still not great, and no matter what you try and no matter how much money you spend on a new camera, you’ll never make a perfect Polaroid image.”
Okay, fine. I’m not looking for perfection. I’ve written about that, too. I love imperfect photos. The problem, for me, is that Polaroid’s film isn’t just imperfect, it’s often simply poor.
Writing critical takes like these risks alienating the company’s communications team. I don’t want to do that. But I have to tell the truth. And the truth is that I want Polaroid to succeed. I want to love their cameras and film. I want to shoot it weekly, and share those positive experiences with my readers. But the sad reality is that every time I buy an eight pack of Polaroid film for $19, one or two of the photos come out undeveloped, or streaked. Two or three more have weird unforeseen color shifts, or they’re criminally soft, or they’re under-exposed.
It’s possible that this new camera will fix all of that.
But it’s an expensive camera, and I’m not convinced that it can deliver an instant photography experience that’s better than that of Fujifilm’s best Instax machine (besides larger images).
But that’s not the point of this article. We’ll save the full review and comparisons for when I test it. When that happens, you can read all about it here.
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