After Polaroid stopped producing instant film, The Impossible Project stepped up to produce new film material. They acquired a legacy Polaroid factory and developed new instant film materials for vintage Polaroid camera models. In addition to the Impossible Instant Lab (allowing Polaroid instant photos to be produced from digital images with a hardware exposure unit and a corresponding smartphone app), the company introduced a newly designed Impossible I-1 camera in 2016. In September 2017, the rebranded company introduced the Polaroid OneStep 2 instant film camera.
New OneStep Instant Camera Model
Building on the unique original OneStep design by Polaroid, Polaroid Originals created a simple, easy-to-use camera with integrated flash and rechargeable battery. Apart from modern build quality and lens improvements, the battery is the biggest change for most users. Before, the battery was included in every cartridge of instant film, a factor making instant film cartridges more expensive, apart from environmental implications.
Polaroid Originals now offers film cartridges for vintage 600 series, SX-70 series, Spectra series as well as for 8×10 and the newly introduced I-Type cameras. A cartridge of 8 color or black and white instant photos for the I-1 or OneStep 2 costs around 16€ (compared to 18-20 € for vintage Polaroid camera models). That isn’t cheap. Still Polaroid offers a very unique photography experience, that is very much worth the money.
Over the past years I used instant cameras quite a bit and experimented with the Impossible Project Instant Lab and their polaroid compatible film material to create instant images from digital photos. The Fujifilm instant film never was high on my list of priorities because I don’t like the formats they offer. Now might be a good time to give it another look. The Leica Sofort setup looks like a sweet deal.
For more information check out the article by WIRED.
They worked on creating their own instant camera for many years, so here it finally is. The I-1 Analog Instant Camera will be available from May 10 2016 for $ 299 and looks like a very decent package. It allows for Impossible 600 film cartridges to be used (Impossible’s Polaroid 600 replacement film), features a LED ring flash and can be connected to a smartphone app via bluetooth. Not being to modest, The Impossible Project’s CEO Oskar Smolokowski calls it“The Original Instant Camera. Reinvented.”.
I am not sure wether I would buy one, since I am quite happy with my Polaroid SX-70. Still, I am curious about the features of the smartphone app and can’t wait to find out, wether this will be enough to convince me to buy an I-1 Analog Instant Camera. Nevertheless, I am quite happy that the camera is finally here, since it hopefully will provide further foundation for Polaroid instant film being around for a bright future.
Conceived at the closing party of the last Polaroid factory, The Impossible Project completely re-invented the process of creating instant film specifically for Polaroid cameras. A daunting task for sure, but one that they’ve been at since 2008.
Since my bedroom wall is supposed to be decorated with Polaroid instant photos, I spent an evening with my Impossible Instant Lab, developing a series of photos with an iPhone 5 and the Impossible iOS App.
The result being a bunch of color and black & white photos soon to be displayed in my personal little art gallery.
It comes at a price, though. 8 instant photos produced with Impossible Instant film sum up to 20 €, not considering the price of the instant lab. That one actually dropped recently from around 250 € to just 120 €.
So now is a good a time as any to start your instant photo experience even if you don’t want to buy an analog Polaroid camera like my Polaroid SX-70 Landa Camera.
Florian Kaps is on a mission to rescue instant film. So he has taken over an abandoned Polaroid factory in Holland… and rebooted it
An article from 2009 about The Impossible Project in Wired UK with some details on their motivation, their inspiration by Edwin H. Land and their mission to save Polaroid instant photography from extinction.
They startet their project in 2008. It’s 2014 and they are still around, continuously improving their film material. So for now, they succeeded.
While testing the POLAROID SX-70 LAND CAMERA SONAR AutoFocus I used film material from The Impossible Project. They develop instant film material for Polaroid cameras in both color and black & white. The film material is made in a former Polaroid factory in Enschede (Netherlands) which they bought in 2008. They basically had to reinvent new instant film material because it was already a dead technology and original color dyes were no longer available. Since their first new instant film in 2010 they constantly improved the quality of the material and the time it takes for the pictures to develop.
What might be of particular interest, is the film speed of the new Impossible instant material. The film for my SX-70, the Impossible SX-70 is described with ASA 160. The original film material from Polaroid was ASA 150. With these material unavailable since Polaroid stopped the production in 2005, many have modified their Polaroid cameras to use newer Polaroid material with film speeds up to ASA 640. They often used ND filters to correct for the wrong exposure time since the film is more then 2 times faster. ND Filters are also available by The Impossible Project if one wants to use their 600 series film material.
Although this does not seem to be necessary anymore with their SX-70 film, the difference between ASA 150 and ASA 160 is still noticeable. This can be addressed by setting the exposure dial on the camera to “darken”.
Unfortunately, by doing this, one looses the ability to adjust the exposure since all other setting lead to bad results. From left to right I tried “lighten”, “normal” and “darken”. Only with the “darken” dial set to maximum, I could create a more satisfying image.
When I tried The Impossible Instant Lab, I used the corresponding iOS app to choose the digital images I wanted to create instant photos from as well as the exposure time for the instant film material I used.
The app let’s me create analog images with the instant lab, which basically is just a housing case for the instant film cartridge and the iPhone while exposing and is manually operated.
But the app also works the other way around. It features a scanner functionality, so one can digitise the instant photos to save them in a digital picture gallery.
One just takes a picture from an angle with no reflections from the instant photo’s surface and selects the corners of the picture’s frame in order to cut and straighten the image to right format. Since The Impossible Project offers film material for the Polaroid 600 & SX-70 series as well as Spectra the app can be adjusted to the correct setting.
Impossible Instant Lab app
Impossible Instant Lab app
Impossible Instant Lab app
Impossible Instant Lab app
I am not sure why anyone would need this feature, but it is a nice gimmick. It somewhat foils the purpose of The Impossible Project and does not provide any decent results but still, it is an easy way to keep a digital memory of your analog instant photos.
In 2012 the kickstarter project for the instant lab got funded. It let’s you create instant photos from digital images on smartphones and was developed by The Impossible Project. They develop new instant film material for Polaroid cameras since 2008 and basically saved Polaroid instant film from extinction.
“Some images are just too good to be buried somewhere on your mobile phone. With the Impossible Instant Lab you can now transform any digital image into a real, one-of-a-kind analog instant photo via your iPhone or iPod touch. Select a picture, place your iPhone on the Instant Lab and within seconds it ejects your analog instant photo, ready to develop in the palm of your hand. It doesn’t matter whether your digital image was shot with your phone or created in Adobe Photoshop – any image on your phone’s display can be turned into a real analog instant photo.”
Source: The Impossible Instant Lab – https://www.the-impossible-project.com/instantlab/ – May 4 2014
The instant lab was introduced at a price of 259 € and was prominently presented at Apple stores and various other points of sale. With a reduced price of 159 € since March 2013 it finally becomes more attractive.
It can be used with iPhone 4/4S/5/5S and iPod Touch and works with any Impossible made instant film. The pictures are chosen within the Impossible App for iOS and exposure time is set according to the film material used. It basically works like this: