Polaroid Now + test: the film snapshot that is piloted digitally

With a close button, the Polaroid Now + is apparently the carbon copy of the Now already launched. But the difference is in the “plus” and the button that takes this form. Because under its already known cabin hides a new electronic card. Equipped with a Bluetooth link, this electronics makes it possible to go beyond the limits of this somewhat basic device by putting at your fingertips the double exposure, manual disengages, the self-timer, etc.

At your fingertips or rather within reach of your smartphone: no new button or screen allows you to take advantage of the new features. Everything happens in your daily terminal through an app.

An app in control

Some might regret that not all enrichments can be accessed without an application. But it is nevertheless a good choice which results from a financial equation. The Now + costs only € 20 more than the classic Now (€ 150 instead of € 130). However, adding components (buttons, knobs, screen) would have required new developments, new molds for the plastics industry, more independent electronics (and therefore more complex), etc. Which would have had the effect of exploding the bill.

Taking into account that films are already expensive – € 2 per image – and that each refill contains only 8 images, we are here in a niche market, photos theoretically a little more thoughtful than the bursts of 60 images per second of digital hybrids. The use of the telephone should therefore not hamper the artists that you are too much.

As for the app itself, nothing to complain about: it detects the device as soon as it is turned on without even having to go through Bluetooth menus, it is pretty, clear and efficient. And it explains each operating mode of the device. Only regret: if the pairing is so fast, it is at the cost of security. The choice of simplicity has indeed pushed Polaroid engineers to do without authentication between the terminal and the camera. So anyone can theoretically control your device without authentication. For a film camera without data in it, we close our eyes.

Polaroid or Fujifilm: craftsmanship against industry

Before talking about the image quality, we must make a technical point and compare Polaroid to the giant of the snapshot: Fujifilm. Polaroid and Fujifilm film emulsions are different, both in color rendering and in long-term behavior. To talk about it, we must remember who these two companies are: Polaroid is a small brand resurrected from the dead, whose initial core business has always been instant film. An advantage of Polaroid against Fujifilm? Not really: when Polaroid was trending in the hands of Andy Warhol, Fujifilm was already a big industrial chemistry group.

Japanese was already Kodak’s volume competitor in the film era. And it is now a powerful conglomerate producing digital cameras, photo printing minilabs, medical scanning software and chemical films dedicated to the flat screen production industry.

Read also: Review of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40, the camera that combines instant and sober

This difference in dimensions greatly explains the difference in the chemistry of the films, which could be summarized in a caricatured manner. On the left, Fujifilm Instax is a film with realistic colors, reliable from one recharge to another and whose chemistry resistance over time is excellent. On the right, Polaroid’s chemistry evolves more over time, proves to be sensitive to temperature variations and produces images whose renderings are much more random from one film to another.

The technical advantage is therefore very (very) largely to Fujifilm. Because in addition to the great control of the colors and the quality of the film itself, some cameras allow to have a certain artistic control – in particular thanks to the reinforcement of Lomography cameras. Whereas the “realistic” approach is beyond Polaroid’s reach. But we’re not talking about sights, graphs or measurements here: photography is one of the rare “tech” spheres that invites subjectivity and art. So anyone has the right to prefer Polaroid renderings.

Image quality … Polaroid

This difference in structure with Fujifilm being made, the somewhat neutral viewer can only note that the Polaroid renderings are very random, the quality of the films much less constant (peeling effect on some films), the less precise exposures, the level lower detail, colors completely to the west.

Among the “surprises” we have an exhibition that is sometimes very random which has burnt down some pictures in the forest, sharp distances that are difficult to control, chemical defects, etc.

This artistic side is absolutely not suitable for individuals, families, groups of friends at a party, vacationers looking for pictures immortalizing what they see, etc. The real target is an audience already familiar with the limits (and the creative potential) of Polaroid chemistries.

Micro USB and non-removable battery

We end with the design of the case which, if it is quite suitable from a design point of view – which is objectively pretty and well characterized – is not pragmatic in its approach. Besides the absence of a mirror on the front for well-framed self-portraits and a really very small viewfinder, the energy part disappoints somewhat.

Also to discover in video:

Also to discover in video:

First, because the battery is advertised as non-removable. If the battery dies (this can happen), the device will have to be tinkered with or thrown away since its change is not planned. And for power, the Micro USB socket has something to question. In 2021, while USB-C is the de facto computer standard and it turns out to be more solid and easier to connect than Micro USB, the presence of this format is stain. Not a major fault, but it hurts the experience of having to grapple with one of those old cables.

Good energy point, however: the battery would hold 20 recharges (160 photos and therefore 320 euros!). And for intense shootings, the device can operate continuously by being powered by the socket… Micro USB.

The Polaroid Now + is a very interesting evolution to the Polaroid range since it allows to keep the rusticity and the simplicity of the original case while taking advantage of additional controls. Without adding too much to the price, since for 150 euros, the most artists among you and other lovers of “Pola” chemistry benefit from a case that is much richer in functions.

However, it is much less attractive as an instant camera for family or friends. Its high cost per image and the random quality of the renderings penalize it compared to the technical excellence of Fujifilm Instax films.

Leave a Comment