Polaroid Z2300: “This is the future!” <— my brother

Polaroid-Z2300

Polaroid released this camera during the summer, and my immediate reaction was OMG WANT, but I decided to sit on that for a while and see if I still wanted it a few months later. My parents gave me some money for my birthday last week (yes, I just turned 38 and I still get birthday money from my parents–my mother also makes me give her a Christmas list), and I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather spend it on, so I got it. Photojojo has the best price that I could find; Amazon is charging about $20 more and Urban Outfitters nearly $40 more. I paid extra to get the 2 50 packs of Zink paper, as the camera itself only comes with 10.

Let me preface this by saying that this is not a Serious Camera. It’s a more technological version of the Polaroids that printed the tiny sticky-backed photos the size of stamps, remember those? The commercial showed a couple making funny faces at each other, then sticking the photos on foosball heads.

That being said, the camera is a lot of fun. Other features aside, it’s a nice little 10 mp point & shoot, although a little bigger because it has to accommodate the 2″ x 3″ paper. It’s still much smaller than Polaroid’s first effort at instant digital. It has several settings actually, more than my “serious” digital (which is several years old, so maybe not that surprising). You can do a lot of editing of the photos right from your camera: crop, add borders and filters, make the shot sepia or B&W, eliminate red-eye, alter exposure and saturation. You can even give your photos the old school Polaroid border if you want! There’s 32 GB of memory integrated in the camera, with a slot for an SD card to expand it.

It has a fisheye setting!

It has a fisheye setting!

You can set it to print automatically every time you take a photo, but to me that defeats one of the best features of the camera, only printing photos you want. The Zink paper is activated by heat, not light, so it can’t be accidentally exposed. (But don’t keep it in your glove compartment in the summer.) It takes about 30 seconds to print, and it comes out of the camera dry, so you don’t have to worry about smearing or fingerprints. The pictures are the size of a business card and have an adhesive back. They’re not perfect, they come out a little streaky and faded, but hasn’t that always been one of the charms of instant photography? It’s not like anyone is using these cameras for Serious Business. And they’re about 50 cents per shot, making them half the price of traditional instant photos. (Or less, if you’re using Impossible Project film.)

Regular, B&W, and sepia shots.

Regular, B&W, and sepia shots.

I only have 2 complaints:

  1. The LCD screen sucks. It’s super coarse-looking, I mean like something you’d see on a 1st generation digital camera. The photos themselves are perfectly nice, but composing the shot can be jarring. You have to remind yourself that the photo (even the printed ones are much nicer) will be higher quality than what you see.
  2. It would be helpful if the sticker backing on the Zink paper had a break that made it easier to peel. To peel it off you have pick at a corner until it comes up, and that usually creases the photo.

So this isn’t going to replace my “real” cameras, but it’s fun. I can see getting a lot of use out of it for journaling/scrapbooking/snail mailing. Something to capture funny/interesting/beautiful things and be able to share them with a lot of people. Yes, you can email camera phone pics; but remember, I communicate with a lot of people solely through the written word. And isn’t there just a special feeling in getting an actual photo that you don’t get when you open an email attachment?

What’s funny is I keep wanting to bring the camera up to my eye when I take a shot, I’ve been using vintage (non-digital) cameras almost exclusively for so long.

Some of the criticisms of this camera, and of Polaroid in general, is that instant photography of any type–and cameras in general, except for professionals–are obsolete. (Those people would say my brother is wrong, that this is the past.) That everyone has camera phones and there’s no need to carry around something that doesn’t serve several purposes. Maybe that’s technically true, but I hope there will always be enough oddballs like myself that products like this keep getting made. I would hate to live in a world where the only visual communication we had with each other was via iPhone.

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