Take another shot at falling in love with Polaroid pics

by Shane Dillon

ONE of the great ironies of the recent surge in selfies is that, well, when was the last time you actually printed out that (cough) adorable shot of yourself pouting like a duck?
Come to think of it, when was the last time you printed out any photos – and I do mean, any?
Younger readers may need to be told that, back in Ye Olde Days, people used to – and I can hardly recall it myself – actually print out photos, rather than simply post, Tweet, share or forward digital-only content.
Imagine that – having hundreds of photos to hand that you could actually pick up, touch, share or give away, rather than potentially hundreds of thousands of shots that you need to fire up a PC, tablet or phone to see! How quaint!
Well, while a variety of photography giants of old have been slain by the mass migration to largely digital content, a few stalwarts remain, with Fujifilm refusing to go quiet into the filtered and digitally-stickered night.
Capitalising on the same lingering, stubborn interest not to abandon Ye Olde Wayes that has kept vinyl and wristwatches alive, Fujifilm is chasing the Polaroid fan.
Its Instax Mini 8  Polaroid camera (I’ll call it the Instax, for short) seeks to both build on nostalgia for Polaroids, and create new interest, by offering the modern version of Polaroids courtesy of its credit-card-sized (and thus super-sharable) Polaroid photos.
Available in a variety of colours, the Instax (RRP: €89.99; film packs €24.99 for 20 shots) is distinctly low-tech in nature – grab the chunky yet lightweight camera, point at the subject, click, and then hope for the best after the Polaroid has whirred out of the machine and begun to self-develop – but then, that’d always been part of the Polaroid charm.
It’s a one-time-only shot; no editing, no do-overs – just a handy, portable pic from a camera with some obvious attractions.
Whether for parents looking for quirky take-home souvenirs of parties or events, clubbers or partygoers happy to grab spur-of-the-moment shots with their ‘besties’ around them – whatever, the plucky Polaroid still has its use and attractions.
As you’d expect, the Instax is very easy to use, although correspondingly basic in operation, yet there’s no doubt that such simplicity has its charms.
With a limited aperture dial for lighting conditions, there’s a little trial and error to get a feel for the kind of shots that will work – or won’t – while the flash is compulsory for all shots.
With such a decidedly old-skool practicality driving the camera, its low-tech approach to shots may seem like a step backwards to some, with many people today used to fiddling about with a hundred settings on their camera or phone as they chase their perfect pic.
However, not so with the Instax – you take your shot (by looking through the small viewfinder (remember those?) and then wait to see how the credit card-sized pic will develop over the next minute or so.
And that’s it – that’s all you need to do. No fiddling about with settings, no mucking about with focus points – just click, grab the shot, and wait to see how it comes out. It’s a snap! (Sorry.)
Of course, while the Instax is a decidedly retro product, Fujifilm have of course also moved with the times, with its Fujifilm Imagine app (free; IOS, Android) catering for contemporary photographers.
It offers a wide range of printing options for those looking to pick up prints, posters, gifts and more, rather than try using a Polaroid camera.
With plenty of options to tinker with, the Imagine app offers a decent way to do something a little different with all those shots sitting there on your phone, gathering virtual dust.
So, whether reminding people of the fun of real Polaroids, or simply presenting a suite of options to do something with all those digital shots you’ve been accumulating, Fujifilm’s got options worth taking a shot at.

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