Polaroid iZone Camera Review

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Pros

Extremely compact
Responsive zoom

Cons

Poor image quality
Low screen resolution
Can’t focus images before taking photos

iZone iE877

The Polaroid iZone is a compact, mini zoom camera with an 18-megapixel sensor and 8x optical zoom. It’s available in several different colours, with the distinctive Polaroid multicoloured stripe on the front. It’s available for £131.41/$197 from Amazon. Developed in conjunction with Sakar, the parent company of Vivitar, the camera is produced by them using Polaroid branding.

Features

Polaroid says the Polaroid iZone has an 18-megapixel sensor, 8x optical zoom and the capability to record 1080p HD video. There is a 2-inch preview/menu screen on the back and the camera has built-in Wi-Fi, for easy sharing.

There is a built-in lithium battery and in the box, you get a charging cable, plug with USB adaptor, wrist strap and a software disk, which when installed can be used to access your images and videos in an easy to use interface.

One the front of the camera, there is just room for the lens and the built-in flash. On the top you’ll find a centralised shutter button. On the back there is the 2-inch menu / reference screen. On the left-handside are the Power and Wi-Fi buttons, and the place where you attached the wrist strap. On the right-hand side there are the plus and minus zoom buttons which are also used to navigate the menu.

On the bottom there is a screw thread allowing you to attach the camera to a tripod or other support, the charging dock and the microSD card slot.

Designed as a ‘plug and play’ device, Polaroid recommend that you plug the camera into the computer and install the software CD provided with the camera to access your images and have the ‘full Polaroid experience’. You can, however, simply just insert the MicroSD card into a card reader and export your photos that way.

Key Features
  • 18 Megapixel sensor
  • 8x Optical zoom
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 2 inch screen
  • Compact & portable camera

Handling

The camera is made from plastic, with a slightly pearlescent finish. It feels quite robust though and we like how compact it is. It’s fairly easy to use the camera with only one hand.

The camera turns on by holding the power button for 2 seconds. The menu is accessed by tapping the Wi-Fi button, giving you access to settings like resolution, image quality, metering, white balance and ISO. There is also a self timer facility, and several flash and macro modes.

You navigate the menu by pressing the zoom in/out keys on the opposite wide to the power /Wi-Fi buttons. To change the setting press the shutter button, navigate to the preferred setting and press the shutter button again. There is also a settings menu which can be switched to by tapping the power button after entering the menu.

Pressing the power button once the camera is on lets you scroll through stills, video and playback modes. Holding the Wi-Fi button lets you connect the camera to a smart device. You can then use the Polaroid app to control the camera remotely and view images.

Once you’ve fathomed out the menu system (we struggled to find out how to access the settings menu for a while) it’s fairly easy to navigate. There is no touch screen, and the screen is not particularly high res, making it difficult to judge how good your photos are on the go. It’s very difficult to see the screen clearly at any angle other than straight on, in optimal light. There is no way to change the brightness of the screen.

Pressing the Wi-Fi button lets you connect the camera to a smart device. It will start flashing, then you need to activate the Wi-Fi on your smart device and search for the camera. The first time you connect the camera, you’ll need to input the password of 1234567890 to make it work. Then, you can launch the free app and control the camera from your phone.

     

The app lets you zoom in and out, adjust settings and take photos/ videos from your phone. Handy if you want to place the camera somewhere nearby and include yourself in the video or shot. Video streaming is not supported on the android version of the app, so you’ll have to wait until you get home to view videos you take.

These days though, phones generally have cameras that are the same calibre or better than this action cam, making the act of connecting the two a bit redundant unless you want to attach the Polaroid to something and use it as an action cam.

The battery is built into the camera and the only way to charge it is to plug it into a USB port. Despite doing lots of research we couldn’t find any official information on the battery life of the camera.

The camera takes a good few seconds to boot up, and there is no ‘sports’ mode, making the fastest shot to shot time around 4 seconds without flash. Zoom is relatively fast, however the screen takes a while to catch up and the image is extremely grainy.

Polaroid IZone In Hand (3)

The shutter button doesn’t have the facility to ‘half press’ and focus the shot before you take it, so you just have to press the shutter button and hope that it focuses on what you’d like it to.

Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Other sample images

1/60 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

1/250 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

1/15 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 200

1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 0.0 mm | ISO 100

1/500 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

1/1000 sec | f/3.0 | 0.0 mm | ISO 50

Images taken indoors with the camera seem to be oversaturated and underexposed. Auto white balance made macro images look over yellow and over warm, and changing the balance to tungsten didn’t seem to make much difference.

Detail fared well in landscape photos and photos where the camera was zoomed out. When the camera zoomed in, however, we had issues getting the image to stay sharp. At full zoom images became blurry, and it wasn’t motion blur. We contacted Polaroid about this problem and were told that we may have a faulty unit. However, we have yet to be sent a replacement, so as it stands this problem could affect all iZone cameras.

The camera coped well when shooting into the sun, creating a nice artistic flare. For macro images the camera creates satisfactory blurred backgrounds.

Colour reproduction outside fared better, with images showing nice saturation and contrast.

We shot several videos with the camera, all which did not focus properly and were totally blurry, further pointing to an internal issue with the camera’s optics.

Value For Money

The Polaroid iZone iE877 is available for £131.41/$197 from Amazon. Given the compactness and amount of megapixels the camera features, this seems like a reasonable price until you discover that you cannot focus the camera properly, and that inside there is a measly 5 megapixel sensor interpolated to 18 megapixels.

Other similar cameras include the Sony QX10 which has an actual 18 megapixel sensor and 10x zoom. This camera attaches to your smartphone and can easily share photos through NFC one-touch. If your budget is flexible then this camera offers better build quality for £225/$338.

If compactness is not so much an issue then Polaroid make a compact with 18 megapixels and an 8x optical zoom for £30/$45.

Verdict

The Polaroid iZone sets itself up to be a great little camera. It has a supposedly high megapixel count and a good amount of zoom. In theory, it should be good performer but unfortunately, the poor screen quality, off white balance and lack of the ability to focus the image before pressing the shutter let it down. After doing some digging we discovered that the camera actually only has a 5 megapixel interpolated sensor, which helps to explain the poor image quality.

Build quality could be better as it feels very plasticky. When there are smartphone cameras available with more megapixels, a small camera that you can pocket and carry around to connect to your smartphone becomes rather redundant.

If you don’t own a smartphone then the camera may prove handy as an extremely pocketable companion, however there are compacts out there that offer you better image quality while remaining slim and compact. These will also offer you the ability to focus the image before fully pressing the shutter and most likely offer a much wider range of effects and controls.

We contacted Polaroid about the fact that the images came out blurry when the camera was fully zoomed in. We were told that we could have a faulty unit but as of yet, Polaroid are yet to send us a replacement. If / when they do, we’ll update the review should the unit we receive perform differently. We also discovered that the sensor is in fact 5 megapixels interpolated into 18, which explains the poor and grainy image quality.

(ephotozine.com, http://goo.gl/GIuECc)

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