The iPhone and Instagram get credit for being the first shoot-and-share social network, but even Steve Jobs would say that’s wrong. The Polaroid camera introduced a social component to taking pictures in the late 1940s, the first instant photography with three steps — shoot, shake and share.
Polaroid brought disruptive innovation to the market and also became a casualty of it when it failed to change course in time to be part of the digital photography revolution.
But a new version of Polaroid is thriving and even stirring up some buzz this week at CES in Las Vegas with new products covering iPhone photography, consumer 3D printing, camera drones and fun cameras that produce an on-the-spot print.
Each week we share great deals on standout products and lessons, but some deals are greater and standout-er than others. To make sure you get a shot and the best of the best, every Sunday we’ll be posting a roundup of the especially special deals we find each week. This week, we’re reminding you of a wearable that makes sure you never miss a call, lessons in ethical hacking, a tough and classy iPhone wallet, and a camera that revives the Polaroid format.
If the fear of loss doesn’t persuade you to print the pictures on your smartphone, perhaps your curiosity about cool gadgets will. In this case, consider the Polaroid ZIP photo printer.
It is a tiny ink-free printer slightly bigger than a deck of cards that, with an easy-to-use app, lets you make small prints from your phone or tablet. The photos are the size of a business card, adding charm and fun to the photo sharing experience.
The Polaroid Snap is a new 10-megapixel camera that instantly prints out photos you take without any ink. It works with ZINK paper that produces 2-inch-by-3-inch prints and essentially lets you keep physical copies of photos you’d put on Instagram and probably quickly forget about.
Legendary German camera maker Leica spent nearly 20 years patenting technology that would take focusing out of the hands of photographers. As with the 35 mm still camera the company created in 1925, Leica stood ready to once again revolutionize photography, this time with an autofocus system.
But after spending the last part of the 1970s working on prototypes, Leica dropped plans to bring autofocus to consumers. Leica figured its customers already knew how to focus their cameras.
“There’s an element of truth in that,” said Heinz Richter, who was a member of the Leica Historical Society of America when he held one of the first autofocus cameras at a meeting in Minneapolis in 1980. “Leica used to be an extremely conservative company. The autofocus mechanism as they were available then didn’t fit into the company’s ideal of precise focusing.”
I think we can all agree that the iPhone and other smartphone cameras have been a boon for photography. For the first time in history, the vast majority of people have an incredibly powerful camera in their pockets at all time. Because of this, our age will be the most well-documented age in history. And that’s awesome. But some critics claim that because we can take as many pictures as we want now, we give a lot less thought to what they shoot, and how, than they did when they had to measure out each and every shot.
That’s why I love this new app for iOS, White Album. It basically makes a disposable camera out of your iPhone. But don’t worry, you don’t have to throw your iPhone away when you stop using the app.
These days, the closest most iPhone owners come to experiencing what it’s like to take a picture on a Polaroid instant camera is loading up the Instagram app. But a new startup is hoping to bring a built-in instant printer to your iPhone by way of a Polaroid style case, with a little dash of augmented reality on top
Although the vast majority of us now take for granted being able to carry super powerful cameras around in our pockets at all times, there’s still something joyful about taking a photograph and having it instantly print out, creating a physical artifact of a moment.
Over the last few years, Fujifilm’s Instax series of Polaroid-like cameras have managed to capture that joy in a number of ways, but their newest gadget melds the strengths of the Polaroid with the flexibility of an iPhone.