Impossible I-1 Instant Camera Review

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Pros
  • Gives original Polaroid size images
  • Versatile and easy to use controls
  • Lots more shooting options using the app
  • Built-in flash
  • Pre-focusing
Cons
  • Film is quite expensive
  • Awkward to hold with one hand
  • Slow battery charge when using computer

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The Impossible I-1 Instant camera is the first new camera to use the original Polaroid photo format in over 20 years. Tghe camera has a host of innovative features that look to give instant photography a modern makeover, whilst still retaining the most important thing – instant images.  The camera has a built in ring flash, and an app can be downloaded to bring you more versatility when shooting, including a remote trigger. The Impossible I-1 is available for £229/$343.

Features

The I-1 is a geometric masterpeice of design with a stylish matt black finish. The camera takes original Polaroid format film, something which Impossible labs have been producing successfully for a number of years now. I-Type film is available in packs of 8 instant images and currently black and white and colour film are available widely.

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Lots of other 600 format films, such as black and red, have been announced at Photokina 2016 and are available now via the Impossible website. I-Type films don’t have a battery pack as a battery is built into the I-1, making them better for the environment. 600 film packs have a built-in battery pack needed for older Polaroid cameras. So you can use 600 films in the I-1, but they have an obsolete battery pack.

The Impossible I-1 is the first new camera to use original Polaroid format film for over 20 years, and has lots of exciting modern features to boot.

The I-1 has a ring flash at the front around the lens. It can be turned on and off with a switch on the side. Several further flash options are also available when using the free app.

On the other side of the flash unit is another switch to lighten / darken the image. On top of the camera is a flip out viewfinder which can be removed and is magnetically attached to help you compose images. The camera uses infrared light to work out how far away your subject is. Impossible suggest that you always compose images with the subject in the middle of the frame, then move the camera as appropriate once it’s focussed.

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On the right-hand side of the body is the main shutter button. You can half press this to focus your images before taking them. Around the shutter button is a dial which you twist to turn the camera on / off and put it into Bluetooth mode, to connect to the app on your smartphone.

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On the front of the camera is the film door which is opened by sliding the switch. There is a micro USB slot here too for charging the camera, which comes with a USB cable that can be plugged either into the computer or a USB plug.

On the bottom of the camera are 4 small rubber feet and a metal tripod mount. On the back is a hand strap which you connect by screwing it in place with the included fasteners.

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The free App gives you lots more shooting options including a manual mode allowing you to control aperture, shutter speed, ring flash strength and focus. There is also a double exposure mode allowing you to superimpose 2 images on top of each other.

Key Features

  • Takes Impossible I-Type and 600 type film
  • Ring flash
  • Lighten / darken image via switch
  • Viewfinder
  • Half-press shutter button to focus
  • Bluetooth mode connects to your phone via app
  • App gives more shooting options including manual mode and double exposure

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Handling

I I-1 is quite an odd shape to hold one-handed without the help of the hand strap. We found it easier to hold the camera with both hands to get better purchase of the shutter button.

The controls are very ergonomic and it’s easy to change settings and access the viewfinder.

      

When you download the free app, available on android and iOS, you are prompted to connect your camera. You need to turn on Bluetooth on your phone and on the camera. Tap the button shown above on the first slide to see the available cameras. Tap ‘Connect to this camera’ and it’ll turn yellow to show its connected. Tap back and you’ll be taken into the app. Here you’ll be able to select from remote trigger, manual mode and double exposure mode. There are more modes coming soon, including self-timer, noise trigger, light paint and colour paint. The app also shows you battery, film, Bluetooth and flash status.

      

Tapping each of the available modes brings up a trigger button and in the case of manual mode, dials and sliders which can be altered for the scene.

Impossible say that the battery will typically last long enough for you to shoot 20 packs of film. You can check how much battery is left by pressing the shutter button while the camera is switched off and counting how many LEDs on the ring flash light up red.

Loading the film is simple – it slides in and then once you clip the slot shut, you’re ready to go.

Performance

Impossible images

Images from the camera have a very retro feel to them, with slightly washed out colours. This is great if you want a vintage feel to your photos. We took several images outdoors and indoors with the camera.

Even when shooting in bright sunlight, images came out on the dark side. Impossible recommend that you use the flash in all but very bright sunlight. Perhaps because the sun was low in the sky, there wasn’t quite enough ambient light. Using the camera without the app enabled us to get a decent image of Jeff the cat.

We experimented with the modes on the app – remote trigger, manual mode and double exposure. Remote trigger worked seamlessly about 3 meters away from the camera and enabled me to trigger an image of me and a friend. Double exposure mode is very cool. Basically, you press the trigger twice, once for each exposure, to produce ethereal, strange looking images. I used flash and the image came out well exposed.

For manual mode, we set the camera up on a tripod and attempted to take some images. We discovered that you need to have a good knowledge of how the exposure triangle works to get this right. As there is obviously no live preview, it can take a couple of tries to get things looking right. Prepare to sacrifice some of your photo pack to badly exposed images until you get used to this mode. It’s a really cool feature to be able to change shutter speed, aperture and exposure on an instant camera but it takes practise.

You have to be careful when removing the images from the camera otherwise drag marks can become visible, as they did on some of the above images. You’ll get used to avoiding this with practice.

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Value For Money

The Impossible I-1 is available for £229/$343. Film packs (8 photos) retail for about £17/$26 each. In terms of instant film cameras, this is not the cheapest on the market but it offers lots of features that other instant cameras don’t give.

Fujifilm produce several Instax cameras, The Instax 300 wide is the closest you’ll get to Polaroid-sized images and it retails for £92/$138. It doesn’t have the same versatility of settings as the I-1. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 produces credit card sized images in a stylish square body and it’s available for £118.95/$178 with a film pack included.

The Impossible I-1 may be a good stretch more expensive than counterpart cameras, however this is because of the much-extended versatility that you get with it, plus a really wide variety of different kinds of 600 film available from the Impossible website.

Verdict

The Impossible I-1 does something really quite amazing – it gives you manual control over an instant film image. Lots of instant cameras might offer limited versions of this, like flash or exposure lightening and darkening, but with this camera, you get an app with full manual dials.

The camera produces vintage images which are very cool, in the original Polaroid format. A great buy for anyone who loves instant film and wants more choice in terms of settings.

I really love the look and feel of this camera and it really feels like instant film has been dragged into the 21st century with this camera. It’s a great innovation.

(ephotozine.com, https://goo.gl/Iwvwov)

 

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