It may be hard for younger generations to remember, but there was a time when seeing your photos immediately was a novel idea. In those days, people took pictures blindly, only seeing the results of their efforts days, even weeks, later when the photos came in at the drugstore.
In all of that waiting came an exciting invention.
Polaroid instant cameras spit photos out immediately. You had to wait for the film to darken, which took a half a minute or so, but that was nothing to people used to waiting for photos. The result was a photo with a white border that was significantly thicker at the bottom. There was something exciting about gathering around your photo, watching as it slowly developed. It’s similar to what we do today when a friend or family member takes a picture and we all gather to stare at that person’s smartphone screen, but not exactly the same.
A group of instant photography devotees found a way to keep instant film alive. Impossible Instant Lab began as a vision to turn the iPhone digital format into an analog photo. Buyers get a cradle that vaguely resembles an instant camera at the base. The cradle interacts with an app the buyer loads on his or her phone. Simply choose a photo from the app, set the timer, and put the phone, face-down, in the cradle. Seconds later the cradle signals that the photo is ready and, with the push of a button, the photo spits out.
One of the great things about the Impossible Instant Lab is that the photo develops gradually, just as instant photos developed in those 1970s cameras. So you and your friends can stand around the photo and watch it develop with that same feeling of excitement your parents had when taking pictures with the real thing.
Interestingly, Impossible Instant Lab was developed in the same German manufacturing facility where Rollei once made its instant cameras. The tower is collapsible, so you can fold your cradle and take it on the run with you. It’s important to note that the Impossible Instant Lab is not a camera. Think of it more as a photo printer, which can be a handy thing to have when you’re on vacation or hanging out with friends.
This is a Kickstarter project, so the device isn’t yet ready for shipment.
The makers are only offering it for pre-sale through Kickstarter, with plans to ship in mid-February 2013. One major deterrent to purchasing the Impossible Instant Lab is its price. The site is listing a planned retail price of $299, plus it looks like you’ll also have to purchase film. You can use film compatible with Polaroid 600 and Polaroid SX70 cameras.
High price or not, you have to admire the passion these guys have for instant photography. It was a passion that led them to buy the last Polaroid factory in an effort to preserve enough film for future technologies like Impossible Instant Lab.
If you’ve ever held an SX 70 in your hand, you probably understand,” the company says on its Kickstarter page. “It’s such a beautiful piece of design and the photos it makes are so different from any other camera – unique and magical. But even we instant film aficionados take a lot of pictures with our iPhones, so we wanted to find a way to turn those digital iPhone images into true instant photos. Well … we invented it. The Impossible Instant Lab!”
As Polaroid cameras fade into history, it’s nice to know there’s at least one way this technology is being kept alive. Pledges start at $189 and you get the unit for this discounted price once it’s available, plus one film voucher. This deal is available in limited quantities, however, so if you’re interested, you’d better hurry and make your pledge.