Polaroid just launched a new camera, a high-end model named I-2. It comes with LiDAR autofocus, full manual mode, a sharp lens, and can use all standard Polaroid film packs. It can connect to a smartphone using a Bluetooth connection, but it doesn’t come cheap.
What is it?
Polaroid I-2 is a successor to the Impossible Project I-1 camera. It is slotted at the top of the range and packed with features, with full support for smartphone control via Bluetooth connection.
I-2 comes with a LiDAR autofocus system, albeit with only one focus point, at the centre. It has a standard full auto exposure mode, but comes with aperture-priority, shutter-priority and full manual modes, as well. Multiple exposure mode is available, with up to four photos. There are two practical and easily accessible dials on top of the camera, one for controlling the aperture or shutter in respective program modes, and an exposure compensation wheel that can be used in all modes, except full manual.
It has a three-element, multi-coated 98mm lens (38mm-equivalent), with ƒ/8 aperture (ƒ/2.8 equivalent) that closes down to ƒ/64, and which focuses continuously down to 0.8 meters – an improvement over other current Polaroid cameras. The lens even has a standard 49mm filter thread – finally, there’s no need for custom filters or adapters. This new lens and AF system were developed with the help of retired experts from Olympus.
The camera uses modern, battery-less i-Type film packs, since it contains its internal battery (charged through a USB-C port), but can use Type 600 and SX-70 film packs, as well – making it the first modern camera that uses SX-70 packs. Smaller Polaroid Go film is, expectedly, not supported.
All shooting information is displayed on a small screen next to the mode and power buttons, and there’s an additional info screen in the viewfinder. The viewfinder also displays a parallax correction frame.
Is it any good?
Judging by the specifications and first reviews found on the Internet, it is as good as it gets in the world of Polaroid instant photography.
It is expensive.
At 700€, it is expensive for a Polaroid film camera. Although a bit bigger than Instax Square, Polaroid film has its own set of idiosyncrasies, or, issues that make justifying such a high price hard – it is decidedly warm-toned, slightly faded-looking and not really sharp, with a lot of failed photos – either out of focus, not exposed well, or both. A new autofocus system, sharp lens, auto-exposure mode and built-in flash should minimize the number of failed photos, but according to the reviews, nailing the perfect exposure still isn’t a given, especially when the flash is used. With a price of ~17€ per pack of eight photos, that’s not encouraging for experimenting, and frustration can be quite high.
With that price, it also faces stiff competition with the MiNT SLR670 series of cameras, as SLR670 cameras have a very high-quality vintage look and feel, and offer a true SLR design, albeit with all other issues of Polaroid film still present.
On the other hand, designing and delivering a new film camera in 2023 is no small feat, and this high price should not be a surprise to anyone. The low prices of film cameras of the past two decades were more of an anomaly.
Finally, regardless of all the drawbacks, this new camera is a welcome addition to the range, I hope it will catch on more than its somewhat flawed predecessor, Impossible Project I-1.