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The Real Instagram: 'Impossible Project' Turns Your iPhone Photos into Polaroids

10.9.12 @ 11:30PM Tags : , , ,

Instagram has always felt a little bit like cheating to me, and having come from a film background, I like seeing the real thing as opposed to a clearly inferior iPhone or Android photo with some old-timey effects (though I am extremely impressed by FilmConvert, which aims to do the exact same thing except a lot more accurately with motion content). Impossible Project, who managed to save Polaroid film and is producing it to this day (along with new cameras), is trying to take those iPhone photos and turn them into something real and tangible: a Polaroid instant photo.

They have been running a Kickstarter — which actually ended yesterday. Either way, here is that video:

This is a video produced by Reuters and David Fazekas, and shot on a Sony FS700 and Canon C300:

A lot of you might be saying, well, that’s completely useless now that we live in a digital world, but I’ve found that since I’ve moved to digital cameras, I’m not printing out photos all that much anymore. You also might say, why would you ever need to print out low dynamic range and slightly shaky photos? An old saying is “the best camera is the one you have with you”, and with so many people owning cell phones, often the best camera is that tiny 4-8 megapixel one that comes with your phone. Aside from the interest in giving your pictures an analog look, there is a very real danger in this all-digital world for photos to be lost forever.

We already know that motion picture film is on the way out (and still photography film isn’t too far behind), but analog could stick around a long time thanks to organizations like Impossible Project. We may not see high volumes, and it might cost a little more, but nothing is impossible.



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  • Wicked. I love the old Polaroid look and having instant, physically tangible images to hold on to. I’ve found that with everything being digital lately, I’ve become lazy when it comes to printing and appropriately backing up photos. Just the other day I had to give someone a hi-res photo and discovered that most of what I had recently were instagram/iPhone shots.

    These guys should team up with the Socialmatic team. Could make a fantastic little product if it was all in one:

  • So you take photos with your iphone and when you get home, walk past your inkjet that costs half the price, prints at half the cost, at twice the speed and with god knows how much more quality…and use this ugly cumbersome thing???

    These days even the sub $100 canons have airprint which means you print right from your phone wirelessly – BAM!

    I am seriously at a loss on this one…but whatever floats your boat.

    • The idea is not only simplicity, but to get an analog look that would require tweaking in some software program. These aren’t high quality prints, they are Polaroids, which by their nature are imperfect, and that’s the idea behind this – you want something that gives your photo the character that you love about Polaroids.

      I think if a person doesn’t inherently like what a Polaroid does to an image, this device probably won’t make sense. It’s the same reason that people actually want to shoot with Polaroid cameras and film – the whole reason the Impossible Project exists. It’s inherently “poor” quality, but there is a charm to the image that is immediately satisfying to many people, not to mention that they can take a photo and have a picture in hand right away.

      Though this isn’t to say that all instant film looks like the Polaroids, Fuji still makes instant film that actually looks great, and doesn’t suffer from as many issues as the original Polaroid chemistry – but in the end, that’s not the point, because you can get a perfect image from a digital photograph.

      • Its only instant when your talking about the original Polaroid camera – as that was all in one whereas this is a cumbersome extra you wouldn’t be lugging around to tie in with that ‘best camera is the one you’re carrying’ philosophy. You’re not going to be carrying this thing around…it will sit at home on your desk… next to your inkjet printer ;-)

        I get the whole ‘bygone era charm and quirkiness’ thing its got going on…i would just never buy into it and I’m surprised so many have. BUT I do admire the gumption of the passionate people behind it so its great they have a healthy niche market to reward their efforts.

        • Right but how good are the prints from a cell phone camera anyway? Sure they’ve gotten better, but for the most part, even a simple point and shoot makes far better prints with less noise. That’s the idea, the pictures from your cell phone are already terrible, but you can hide some of those flaws in the Polaroid – and at the same time give it a look that you would be applying using some post filter, and also do it simply enough by basically pushing a button – which is not always that simple when trying to print photos from a phone.

          The beauty about the polaroids is that even if they fade in time, they will fade in a way that “looks good” – whereas “perfect” prints fade and just look miserable. It’s really the same idea as Instagram, but you can actually physically share them with people instead of just digitally. A lot of it is nostalgia, no question, but I think it’s still an interesting idea to take something that looks bad, and then make it look less bad through printing on a somewhat inconsistent analog medium.

  • Way too hipster for me…