The crazy story behind the return of Polaroid cameras


They come back with a model that will cost 119 euros and will be able to buy from October

The crazy story behind the return of Polaroid cameras

The new Polaroid that arrives in October. (Polaroid)

Almost everyone knows what a Polaroid camera is, but if you ask someone who is not very aware of the photographic novelties you probably do not know if these cameras still exist or not. As with the case of Schrödinger’s cat, the correct answer can be a yes or a no.

Although very soon it is possible that no one doubts its existence. Because this time they do again make analog cameras Polaroid instant. But until arriving here there is a long history that has lasted 10 years. In fact one of the most rocambolescas in the world of photographic technology. Or rather, the world of technology, no more.

In the ten years ranging from the disappearance to the reappearance of the Polaroid cadasters there is a rocambolesca story.

It has been said on many occasions that the decline of polaroids was triggered by the advent of digital photography. That may be true in the Kodak case, which got most of its film sales. But in reality it is not in the case of Polaroid. Although the technology of these instant cameras was analog, in reality that was not the relevance of them. What was really important was that you could get, as is well known, a paper photo on the spot.

The arrival of cameras of a certain quality to the mobile phones could have more repercussion in that these cameras faced a problem. As the phone suddenly became our main photo album. But the truth is that the polaroids were stopped making the same year that the iPhone was introduced: in 2007. Before therefore the great outbreak of mobile photography.

Polaroid went bankrupt almost at the same time that the first iPhone was launched, the mobile photography did not influence in its disappearance.

What ended then with them? It is clear that at a time when everyone wanted to buy a digital camera, any analog photographic product faced a problem. If only because it gave the impression of being out of fashion. But even that did not justify being stopped producing these cameras and their instant movies.

The problem really was that Polaroid, like any big company that has ever been gigantic at any point, could only exist by selling huge quantities of products. The company did not know, or could not, adapt to survive with a smaller production and broke. From then on the brand went from hand to hand. So the logo of these mythical cameras ended in the most unlikely products. Today, in fact, there are even Polaroid tablets or goggles.

But analogue photography was resistant to dying despite being abandoned by industry. In 2008 three entrepreneurs founded a small company called Impossible Project. His goal was to re-release instant film, but without the help of what was left of Polaroid. Against all odds they got it by buying machinery from the factories that had just been dismantled and a factory in Holland.

That first film of Impossible left much to be desired. Even the photos ended up fading with the passage of time. This happened because to produce the original film it was necessary a chain of suppliers that had disappeared. So those early Impossible films were so terribly disappointing that they were almost worth it.

Impossible Project made Polaroid-compatible reels, but their quality was lower than the originals.

Little by little they were improving, but never managed to match the original film. In addition, the new snapshots for Polaroid were, and are, quite expensive. What prevented instant photography from becoming popular again. As this became a market that seemed touched by the curse of exclusivity.

The restored cameras sold by the Impossible Project were priced exorbitantly. And that despite the fact that it was enough to have a look at the websites of sale of second hand to find polaroids at bargain price practically new. After all, a huge number of units still exist despite their disappearance 10 years ago.

The crazy story behind the return of Polaroid cameras

Polaroid film production line. (Polaroid)

The funny thing is that all this happened while there was a big company that sold cameras and instant film: Fuji. When Polaroid broke the instant photography division of the Japanese company was reduced to its minimum expression. But perhaps by finding that what appeared to be insane by Impossible was gradually becoming a business, Fuji decided to try his luck and launched some new models of analogue instant cameras.

Surely to his own surprise the experiment went quite well. So much so that in the Christmas of 2016 Amazon communicated that the photographic product more sold were instantaneous films of Fuji. The success of these cameras is due in large part because neither the camera nor the reels are too expensive.

In addition they manage to reproduce images with a better color than those that Impossible sells. Although, yes, its format does not correspond to that of the polaroids. As Fuji produces film that results in photos of a smaller size. Although it also sells some with a similar size to the old polaroids, but this film should be shot with a large camera.

Many also attempted to launch instant digital cameras. Among them are the owners of the Polaroid brand. But none of these products even managed to match the success of Fuji with its analog cameras. To make this soap opera even more complex at a given time, Polaroid reached an agreement with Fuji to sell one of their Instax cameras with the American company logo.

The crazy story behind the return of Polaroid cameras

The Fuji Instax Mini 70. (Fujifilm)

What has happened to see Polaroid analog cameras again? The first clue is that Fuji has nothing to do with this. The technology of these new cameras is of Impossible Project that now happens to be called simply Polaroid Originals and its cameras are also offered in the official web of Polaroid.

Impossible had already produced an instant camera last year costing $ 300, but the re-launch of the brand now is done with a camera called OneStep 2 that is cheaper. It will be sold for 119 euros from 19 October. We will see if he finally arrives in Spain in time for the Christmas campaign.

Polaroid reels are still priced high, as each photo costs two euros.

The camera bears a strong resemblance to the Polaroid 600, perhaps the best known model. But it brings some innovations. Mainly improved lenses, or so the company says, and a USB port to recharge a lithium battery that gives you 60 days of autonomy. Of course, there is no more trace of digital technology in this camera.

The problem returns to be the price of the film. For 16 euros you can buy the cartridges of eight photos of the new i-Type film, which apparently improves the results of Impossible films by not having to carry their own built-in battery. They will be sold in color and black and white versions.

The other compatible film, which already produced Impossible, is the 600, whose price is 19 euros and also contains eight photos. Keep in mind that the Fuji Instax Mini movie is sold on Amazon right now for a price of 10 euros 10 photos cartridge. Although you can buy lots that lower the price of each photo up to 60 cents. Be that as it may, it tells us that these new polaroids, whose appearance is quite showy, will sell well. Although, yes, there is a risk that they end up forgotten in a drawer after exhausting the first reel.

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