Ever since Polaroid shuttered its instant film operations eight years ago, German company the Impossible Project has been trying to recreate its most famous products from scratch. Today, the company unveiled a film camera
— one it says will bring instant film to 2016.
The I-1, which is currently on sale for $300, is the first camera the company engineered in-house. It’s also the first camera specifically manufactured for Polaroid’s traditional instant films in over a decade. The fact that it’s new and functional already sets it apart from a lot of the used vintage Polaroid models you can pick up for a tenth the price on eBay.
Wired reports that there are three new features that really set it apart from the old stock. The first is a redesigned flash in the form of a ring of LEDs that encircle the lens of the camera. The flash doubles as an exposure counter, which lets you know how many shots are left in the pack. Before this, you’d have to keep count or wait until the camera spits an empty cartridge out.
The second thing that’s different is a removable viewfinder, which sits like a lens on top of the camera.
The third feature is a pretty big one: control. There’s an app that pairs with the camera, which allows you to handle functions you’d generally get on a regular camera: shutter speed, f-stop, focus and so on. You can even toggle it for double exposures, bulb settings, two experimental features that could generally be near impossible on a traditional Polaroid camera.
Since 2008, Impossible has been working on reverse-engineering the original Polaroid instant film, buying up Polaroid’s last film factory and recreating the film paper and chemicals from scratch. The company’s also introduced a line of enlargers, which allow photographers to imprint iPhone photos onto Impossible Project film exposures.
The I-1 is undoubtedly geared toward power users, and the amount of control you get with it is something that even the nicest and newest Polaroid models can’t compare to. For diehard Polaroid fans, it’s worth looking looking into.
The camera will undoubtedly be facing stiff competition from the Fujifilm — the company’s Instax film line is making the company a whopping four times as much as its digital camera sales. If you’re ever in an Urban Outfitters’ film section, you’ll likely see Impossible Project’s film packs and Instax side-by-side.
But with Instax being the size that it is and the price that it is (a cool $55 for a camera and around $12.50 for 20 exposures), Impossible Project is probably seeking a different market: one that can’t shake the past, wants the best way to relive it, and knows full well that you’re not supposed to shake a Polaroid photo.