When you think of Polaroid, you probably conjure up nostalgic pictures of those square, slightly fuzzy photos with a white border, popping straight out of a camera. Polaroid has become synonymous with instant photography and while it still continues to sell instant snappers, it latest products bring the technology firmly into the 21st Century.
Founded in 1937 by Harvard-educated Edwin H. Land, Polaroid started out as a maker of glasses, ski goggles, 3D glasses and night vision goggles for the armed forces.
Edwin Land first thought up the idea of an instant camera in 1943 after his three-year-old daughter asked him why she couldn’t see the picture he’d just taken of her. In 1948 the first ‘Land’ camera hit the shops with colour film to follow in 1963. The company stopped producing its original instant film in 2008, but introduced ‘zero ink’ Zink printing the same year with its mobile PoGo printer.
Zink produces full colour photos without the need for ink cartridges, ribbons or toner. Instead, heat the Zink-enabled printer activates the colour-forming molecules embedded in the layers of the paper to form an instant image.
Polaroid’s old film stock was taken over by The Impossible Project, which continues to produce and sell film that can be used in Polaroid’s vintage cameras.
After revamping the world of instant photography, Polaroid has also launched retro-style photography apps for both iOS and Android.
Due to hit shops by the end of the 2014, the Polaroid Socialmatic has been designed to combine the vintage appeal of Polaroid’s classic instant cameras with sharing over Wi-Fi using the camera’s Android interface.
The Socialmatic instantly produces 2x3-inch prints on smudge-proof and water-resistant Zink paper. If there’s no Wi-Fi available, the camera can be paired with your smartphone using Bluetooth. Along with a 14MP front camera, there’s also a rear-facing 2MP camera for selfies and a big, friendly 4.5-inch touchscreen for easy control.
A small LCD on the front runs something called ‘Mood Assistant’ which helps you to find new followers thanks to a personal QR code which shows the camera’s ‘feelings’.
Action cameras have been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years, largely helped by leading brand GoPro. Polaroid’s latest addition to the world of action cams is the incredibly cute Polaroid Cube.
As the name suggests, this is a cube-shaped snapper which comes in black red or blue and sports the traditional rainbow stripe first made popular on Polaroid’s cameras in the 1980s. Concentrating on video, the Cube can capture HD footage up to 1080p and can also take 6MP snaps if you want still images.
The built-in battery offers 90 minutes of recording time and you get a 124-degree viewing angle. The camera is splash proof, but you can always shell out on Polaroid’s dedicated camera housing if you want to make it fully waterproof.
A modern version of the cameras that made Polaroid famous, the the Pic-300 produces small, business card-sized photos - actual glossy colour photos, rather than Zink prints. Similar to Fujifilm’s Instax range, the Pic-300 pops out the photo instantly, which then develops gradually in a matter of minutes, just like the square instant snaps of yesteryear.
This is the camera to go for if you prefer a glossy old-school photo rather than the more modern Zink print. It’s also a great option for kids as it’s sports a cool, simple design, comes in a range of bright colours and is incredibly easy to use.
Described by Polaroid as a "portable photobooth", the Z340 was the photo expert's first camera to introduce built-in Zink printing. The vintage-inspired design includes a hand-strap, while the 2.7-inch LCD screen brings the look up to date.
The 14MP camera produces 3x4-inch colour photos and can also print them with the traditional white Polaroid border. Photos can also be stored on a removable SD card. This is a great choice if you want the look of an retro Polaroid instant camera with the convenience of digital technology.
Following on from the bigger Z340, the Z2300 sports Polaroid's familiar rainbow stripe and is the maker's first compact camera to use built-in Zink printing, producing instant 2x3-inch photos. The neat little snapper takes 10MP stills and can even capture 730p HD footage.
As well as printing out your snaps, you can store them, along with video, using a regular SD card. While there was no way of previewing instant shots on older Polaroid models, the Z2300 sports a 2.5-inch LCD screen on the rear that lets you line up and review your shots as you go. A 6x digital zoom means that you can get closer to the action.