Expecting any serious photographer to get outstanding results from an instant camera is a bit like asking Max Verstappen to win an F1 race in a pedal car: they’ll both give it a damn good go, but the equipment can only do so much. So does that make the new Polaroid I-2 the camera equivalent of a pedal car fitted with a jet engine? It’s the firm’s most advanced snapper ever.
The I-2 blends traditional Polaroid styling with modern tech, including a three-element lens with f/8 aperture and continuous autofocus. The firm says it delivers “the sharpest shots of any Polaroid instant camera”, and uses a LiDAR sensor for continuous autofocus even in darker conditions. The lens barrel is even threaded for attaching 49mm filters.
It’s the first of its kind with full manual controls, including shutter speed and aperture. Values are shown on a monochrome OLED screen on the top of the camera, which also displays remaining battery life and how many shots are left in the current film pack. There’s also a second display built into the optical viewfinder, which shows the camera and flash modes, a light meter and distance to your subject.
You can pick from auto, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual modes, and the fun multi-exposure mode seen on previous Polaroid instant cameras also makes an appearance. If the built-in flash isn’t sufficient, there’s a 2.5mm mono jack for syncing to an external flash gun, and a 1/4in thread on the bottom lets you mount it on a tripod.
The built-in battery is beefy enough to get through 15 packs of film before it’ll need recharging (via USB-C), and there’s Bluetooth on board for remote shutter control and over-the-air firmware updates.
It’s compatible with Polaroid’s I-Type, 600 and SX-70 film. The company tapped up photographers Coco Capitán, Kotori Kawashima and Max Siedentopf to put the I-2 through its paces.
At a wallet-busting $600/£600/€700, the I-2 is squarely aimed at instant photography enthusiasts. It’s comfortably Polaroid’s most expensive camera, and will set you back more than any of instant rival Fujifilm’s Instax models – including the analog/digital hybrid LiPlay and Mini Evo. None of those have the I-2’s luscious lens, though.
The Polaroid I-2 is available to buy right now, directly from the Polaroid website and a handful of cherry-picked retailers.