The Polaroid OneStep+ ($160) is the company’s newest instant camera, and if you think it looks similar to its predecessor, the OneStep 2 ($100), that’s because it does – the two cameras are virtually identical. However, the OneStep+ adds way more advanced features that instant film enthusiasts will dig. It’s the first Polaroid instant camera to have two lenses, a portrait lens and the OneStep 2’s standard lens, so you can shoot super close-ups (from close as as one foot away) with background blur. It’s the first Polaroid instant camera to have built-in Bluetooth and also a companion app.
This app, called Polaroid Originals, allows photographers to shoot instant film photos in a number of different ways. They can shoot double exposures (two photos in a single frame) or with the “light painting” effect they can shoot photos with all kinds of crazy light effects. There’s a manual mode, too, that allows them to completely control things like the aperture and shutter speed, and they can also turn the flash on/off. And there’s also a self-timer mode, so you can set the OneStep+ down on a tripod or countertop and use your phone as a remote shutter button to take selfies. Essentially, it’s a more advanced instant film camera that gives photographers more creative options.
At $160, the OneStep+ is the most expensive instant camera that Polaroid makes, so to consider buying it you should probably be an advanced photographer or just somebody really into instant film photography. One such person is Jarry Truong, Gear Patrol’s Associate Videographer — I gave him the Polaroid OneStep+ and two sleeves of instant film (black and white) to play around with over this past weekend. Afterward, I asked him what he thought about the camera.
Question: What experience do you have shooting instant film cameras?
Jarry Truong: I use the Fuji Instax Wide. I have that as my personal camera, but I’ve used an older version of the Polaroid. My girlfriend has the original one. So you could say [the OneStep+] is a little mix of the competitor and Polaroid’s new version.
Q: So what are your initial thoughts about the OneStep+?
JT: It’s nice to have manual control over instant film. Instant film is usually a Pandora’s box when you open it. You don’t really know what you get until you shoot it. Now that you have control over things like double exposure or manual controls, it’s really nice. One downside that’s a little bit cumbersome, like you said, is that it’s weird having the phone out and then trying to compose your photo through the tiny viewfinder and still hit the shutter button on your phone. I’m not sure if that’s a UI/UX design problem, whereas it could be nice if you could set it to a specific mode that you want and then just hit the shutter button from your camera.
Q: Of the new features that you don’t normally get in an instant film camera, which was most interesting?
JT: I did enjoy Portrait mode – it was really nice. One caveat is that you do have to get pretty close for the background blur to come out, but it is really sharp and it’s a wonderful photo. It’s easy to switch into Portrait mode from Landscape mode, as it’s just a flick of a switch on top of the camera. The other modes are a little more difficult to get to just because you do have to pull out your phone.
Q: Did you try Manual mode in the app? What did you think?
JT: Yeah. It’s cool to see that you can meter. And you change the settings from aperture to shutter speed, and if you wanted to do double exposure, it’s in that Manual mode as well. One camera that a lot people weren’t a fan of was the Fuji Instax Square SQ10, and that’s because it went too digital. For an instant film camera that’s a big no-no. It’s taboo, basically, as you were able to see what you were shooting and then print it out. And you could even give it a color grade beforehand, by adding contrast or saturation, and that defeats the purpose of what instant film is to a lot of people.
Q: So you like that, with this camera, you don’t know how the photo is going to turn out?
Q: You want to shoot and then you kind of don’t know what you’re going to get. Just like using the double exposure [with this camera]. I didn’t know how it was going to look, but you kind of compose to what you think it will be. That’s the beauty of [using] film.
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