Polaroid 300 instant print camera
Fun retro-snapper revived
Review The news that Polaroid has a new instant camera, after we thought it was done with all that frivolity, is likely to be greeted with squeals of nostalgic joy. While digital is superior in almost every sense there's a real warmth about those 80s prints that we remember adorning fridges and noticeboards. The Polaroid 300 (tsk, these unwieldy techie names) takes you straight back to your childhood, making a spontaneity-encouraging break from all that DSLR refinement.
The antidote to a plain fridge door: Polaroid's 300
The 300 is about as basic as cameras get without being made by Fisher-Price. Available in blue, red or black, it's a pleasingly curvaceous and chunky design. It's big, but fits nicely into the hands. There's a dial on the top with four settings - indoor/dark, cloudy, fine and clear. With no manual shutter or aperture controls to be found – what you've got is what you get.
It takes four AA batteries and power-on is achieved when you gently pull the lens casing outwards, push it back in and it's off - all the operation is satisfyingly car-door simple. The shutter button is on the front beneath the flash - which fires with each shot taken, like it or not.
The print slot is at the top, next to the setting dial. At the back there's a counter to let you know how many shots you have left – essential when you've only got 10 per film. The film cartridge slots into the back with ease and is ready to go after one click of the shutter button to process the first blank sheet.
A tiny green light provides the only evidence that you're ready to go - there's just a basic optical viewfinder to peer through, and no LCD screen to guide you. You realise pretty quickly that this is a different way of taking pictures to the one you're used to. Frame your shot as best you can without your usual digital crutch, press the button and lo and behold, with a familiar whirring whine, a rectangular white-framed print emerges.
Basic controls, but aesthetically pleasing results
This is the Polaroid 300's raison d'être, and it's an undeniable little thrill to see and hear the print pop up. It may not be the classic fat square of old, which is a small disappointment; but by gum it's an instant photographic print (still with room for a caption at the bottom - although my biro doesn't seem to like it), and for a moment it feels like the unwieldy, impractical, expensive future.
No.... what I am saying is......
that if you have, say £50 to spend on a camera, a 35mm camera will produce better quality pictures than a £50 digi.
I am not talking about TCO [total cost of ownership] or digitals ability to share / email / upload etc. But, when you look at the capability of film, the depth and resolution you get, the ability to capture detail almost limitless zoom, digital is not as good as film.
For a lot of people, digital is /fine/, but that does not negate the fact that film is superior to digital.
What they need to do is combine a digital camera with a built in inkjet printer. That way you can select which photos to print, and have digital photos for adding to facebook, etc. Plus even with the high cost of inkjet inks, it would be vastly cheaper per print.
I've had a polaroid in the past, always seemed expensive compared to 35mm and some of the prints died after 5 years or so, like the memory of the event they fade away into nothing. Then again Mum has prints of me as a child so they can last in some cases (and some I wish would fade from the "stop mum showing old photo's of me" point of view.)
That said this seems like an Retro version of facebook. Take pictures of mates whilst drunk, pass around a week later. No annoying data retention and very little chance for your boss to "accidentially" end up seeing how bad you were.
Still a lot of money per print for what it is though,