Review of the Polaroid Now+ camera – Sensible and most versatile instant film option by Keith Wee
My first experience with Polaroid came pretty late, and it was with the Polaroid OneStep 2 in 2018. For a photography brand with 40+ years history it is obvious I have only gleamed the very surface of all that Polaroid is.
For a brand that has seen a true revival from near-death, and more so interesting because it was an user/fan led revival, one thing I am immensely proud of to know how much of Polaroid’s heritage was preserved where possible, for example the Polaroid signature colour-band logo and Polaroid’s unique dreamy renderings.
Quick shout-out for the links to my reviews of the other Polaroid Cameras below
Polaroid and Progress
Polaroid is not a brand that is often associated with the word ‘Progress’. After-all this is a brand that is currently built and marketed on a sense of analog nostalgia. In fact, those in the know will be able to elucidate how much Polaroid has remained ‘unchanged’ over the years, until the last 3 years where a huge leap came in the form of auto-focus capabilities in the Polaroid Now.
With the release of the Polaroid GO, which left me surprised at Polaroid’s ingenuity at solving two of it’s biggest issues (size of camera and cost per shot), I had surmised there would be a wait till the next significant Polaroid jump but nope, I was wrong.
The Polaroid Now+ is the last piece to solving the puzzle.
A contact from the local Polaroid distributor mentioned that the Polaroid Now+ would excite me, leaving me to wonder why. And I finally understood why when I was handed the review set to test.
The new capabilities of the Polaroid Now+ has in fact moved Polaroid cameras from the point-and-shoot category into cameras to now, a legitimate photography tool for the creative.
Professionals have always lamented the lack of customisation capabilities on these instant cameras (well you can’t make everyone happy) and now, the huge jump is they have gotten their wishes granted with the addition and creative use of bluetooth working in tandem with the Polaroid App.
Through the Polaroid app, one now has full access to the Polaroid Now+ camera settings for the advanced user. One is able to set Aperture, shutter speeds, exposure, flash control and even focusing through the app.
Not just manual controls, the Polaroid App has ensured enthusiasts aren’t daunted by the controls and added TRIPOD, DOUBLE EXPOSURE, LIGHT PAINTING modes among others so one simply needs to select the mode and focus on visualizing the image.
Few might have noticed but the keen eyed professional will, and a now with slower shutter speeds a setting away, one will surely need a tripod mount and of course Polaroid Now+ has this for uses like light-painting and simply longer exposures.
Not only creative possibilities, being able to shoot in manual mode now means more beautiful better output in Polaroid Prints.No more washed out prints.
A key point not mentioned by other reviewers is that now we can look forward to getting Polaroid prints now way more perfect and contrasty while still retaining Polaroid’s signature colours. All one needs now is a setting away in aperture size for example more bokeh or more depth of field. If shutter speeds go too slow due to a small aperture, a tripod easily solves the problem.
Back in the Polaroid Now or OneStep2, this was always an issue due to the fully automatic ways the camera behaved and we would have no choice but to trust the camera’s algorithms.
And to add a cherry on top of the cake, Polaroid has heeded the request of users to include a set of 5 lens filters with the Polaroid Now+.
The filters work as one would imagine and are especially useful with black and white Polaroid film, clip them on one is able to shoot immediately. And to protect the lens element, Polaroid has also included a lens cap.
The filters all have their specific uses, for example the red filter gives a clear center with a red vignette to images while the starburst filter has the effect of softening the image for portraits. A zippered soft pouch is included to hold them all.
And adding to these, it is important to clear a common misconception, which is that while Polaroid and Instax are both instant film systems, Polaroid and Instax are two completely different systems produced by two different companies. One cannot use Instax films on Polaroid cameras and vice versa. In fact Polaroid is still the largest consumer instant print one can buy in the market at its 3.1 inch square format vs Instax Square’s 2.4 inch square format.
Despite me going on about the differences, of course, basic operation of the Polaroid Now+ has not changed, and what is familiar from the Polaroid Now is kept consistent. Like the huge selfie mirror, red shutter button, simple one button on/off switch and of course, if you look careful, the + button which enables the bluetooth connection that differentiates the Now+ from the Now.
The method to load the film, and the exposed film being held by a ‘lip’ so it does not drop to the floor have all remained unchanged. After all this is a Polaroid, and some things should remain consistent.
There is an indisputable charm and attraction when using a Polaroid camera, especially in our age of digital abundance. To the many users who grew up alongside Polaroid cameras, most of them will recall the beauty of preserving memories and notable moments on the familiar white-bordered square film.
The Polaroid Now+ is the one release that really hits all the areas where it matters, even including extra surprises like the lens cap and filter system when they could have simply sold it as an optional accessory.
Personally if you are in two minds over the Polaroid Now or Now+, get the Plus. For the equivalent of a few Starbucks lattes, you are getting so much more in terms of performance potential and functionality.
While Polaroid films do not come cheap, it is undoubtedly the niche choice for artists and creatives. Not everyone will understand, but those who do, do. This is why till today, Polaroid has not only survived but made progress to stay relevant.
Thank you for reading.
- The Polaroid Now+ camera kit was loaned by the local Polaroid distributor for review purposes and returned at the end of the review.
- All images and samples shared were photographed by me.