The Impossible Instant Lab is an interesting mix of using an iPhone with a Polaroid style camera. Impossible have got in touch with us to state that they prefer the term ‘instant analog camera’, which of course represents it perfectly. What you see is essentially a camera which takes Impossible film, but instead of using the optics of this device to create and take pictures, it actually relies on an iPhone. This means that you can take your images on an iPhone, edit them as required, and if they are worthy of printing, you move over to this, and print them in classic Polaroid styled pictures.
Look and feel
The camera itself is quite interesting in the way that it is built. It comes compressed in a pack, and you have to expand it all out to set the imaging distance to the lens’ perfect focal length. There is the section where you can insert your films underneath, and there is a small button on top that lets you open the door to it. Other than that, there is an eject button that lets you eject photos out once they have been exposed.
On top of the expandable bit is a little outline and shaped bracket that has been built to take an iPhone, from 4 onwards.
On the other end of the section to insert the film is a little tab, pulling out which exposes a shiny metal plate. This plate is probably the most important plate you’ll ever see in a modern day camera, as pulling this out exposes the film to the image, and hence lets the magic happen.
In the box
In the box is included a set of instructions, the Instant Lab itself, a charging cable and a little pouch to carry this around. However, since it is something you can come home and print to, we don’t see it as being used too much out on the go. Unless you are having a party and want to show off!
Ease of use
This product works on an iPhone and iPod Touch only. Not even iPads! However, once you see how it works, you kind of get why it doesn’t work on an iPad.
For once, you need the app to work the device. The app basically takes images out of your photo stream, and once you have decided on an image, you place your phone on top of the fully expanded camera, and then the flash on your iPhone/iPod will light up. This tells you to take out the imaging plate out of your camera. Once the exposure is enough, the flash goes off, and you can put the plate in.
Then you press the eject button and out comes the Polaroid styled image. It takes about half an hour or longer to develop, so don’t let that dark blue/black thing disappoint you!
So, it is really like a regular camera, but for iPhones?
In a way, yes. We have tried using it with other camera phones, and there are problems such as the fact that they don’t fit in perfectly in the little tray, or of course, while you place the image/screen on the camera, it may go dark and you may not get the best image out. There is also no app available for other devices, so you won’t know how long to expose your image. A bit of practise though, will help. However, the fact that you have to pay for the film, and at £16 for 8 images, you are paying 2 pounds every time you print something, so the bit of practise may cost you a lot of money.
However, if slightly out of focus images are your thing, or you like blurry but vintage effect photos, you may be able to use it without an iPhone. We do not recommend it though.
Polaroid has never really been known for its image quality, rather more so for the instant photos you get. The images we got out of this were much the same, not better and not worse. Of course, there could be ways to improve the image quality, but would you really want to kill the romance of Polaroid? In some ways, it is that very vintage/classic look of Polaroid that has given birth to this, and I don’t think it needs to be changed!
We weren’t able to finish the battery life while we had it, so can’t comment.
This can be bought direct from Impossible, at the following link:
It will cost you £219.00 though, which is a bit steep for something like this. It does come with your first pack of coloured photos though.
This is probably one of the coolest things we have seen in a long time. However, the fact that it only works on iPhones/iPods makes it a very restricted toy to have. Impossible do sell refurbished Polaroid styled cameras, so if this is your thing but you don’t like the price or don’t have an iPhone, visit their website and you may find what you want.