In 2001 Polaroid filed for bankruptcy, and the once behemoth instant photography company began to sink. It continued to sink, and decided, flailing, to ditch the instant-development idea. It did attempt to make an instant-print comeback in 2008, and effort that failed to combine instant development and digital technology.
Polaroid has come back from the brink in the last two year’s however, and come back fighting, despite the luke-warm reception of it’s 2011 model. The Polaroid Z340 Instant Camera is charming to begin with, nostalgically recalling the magic of polaroid cameras of 40 years ago, but it turns out, that paying $200 for the Z340 (which actually prints out digital pictures, rather than having them develop) is not worth the time you could be spend finding the real thing at a thrift store, or buying a decent, smaller and less-expensive, (and higher-quality) digital camera.
It’s trade-offs are that, though it has a built-in printer, it could have used it’s extra bulkiness to add a few more perks. It’s quite a bit more bulky than the teensy-weensy modern digital point-and-shoot variety, but still lacks a few basic components that might make it a dramatically better camera and a lovely little blast from the past. Real zoom, for instance, instead of the grainy digital zoom it comes with, would be quite handy for instance, as well as such basic components as an LED light signifying a charging battery.
The Polaroid Z340 isn’t horrid by any means though, and many must feel that the camera’s instant printer, upgraded from the traditional method with a nice new technology called Zero Ink, or “Zinc” printing, is more than enough of a tradeoff for an LED light. Polaroid’s new Zinc printing technology prints faster and produces cleaner prints than those of the 1970’s, and on paper that can double as a sticker, no less. There are other perks to the Z340 as well, including a place for an SD card and a bit of internal memory, as well as a fairly decent megapixel count of 5-7.
Although the Z340 met with mixed reviews, Polaroid certainly hasn’t given up on it’s goal to happily marry digital and printing technology in one machine. They’ve already rolled out a production model for a new, smaller, Polaroid Z2300 camera, which prints 2 x 3 inch prints, rather than the 3 x 4 inch prints of the Z340. Along with a smaller picture and camera size, this new model will also come at a lesser, more reasonable price, (about $159) while still offering the ability to edit, crop, and customize photos before printing.
There’s no doubt that the two models offer fun, if rather frivolous, party novelties. However, if Polaroid can continue working on wedding print and digital – if they can reconcile charm and novelty with usability and image quality, then they’ll no doubt be able to capitalize on this crowd-pleasing idea. Let’s hope the iconic company keeps on fighting.