Polaroid ION-230 is a 2.1 megapixel digital camera introduced in early 2000’s. Although the camera is sold under the Polaroid brand-name, it was probably not made by Polaroid itself. Polaroid filed its bankruptcy protection in October 2011 after existing for more than 70 years (it was founded in 1937) and being world famous for its instant cameras. After that, in September 2002, another company was granted to sell digital cameras under the “Polaroid” brand-name. There were even Polaroid brand LCD TV’s in the market!
Nevertheless, the ION-230 has a highly compact and very light metal body (less than an inch thick and only weights 122g) at the time of its introduction. Besides its 1.6″ LCD monitor, like many of the compact digital cameras at its time, the ION-230 also has an optical viewfinder. While the LCD is not considered small comparing to other digital cameras in the same era (for example, the semi-pro Nikon D100 and mid-range D70 both have 1.8″ LCD’s), the optical viewfinder is next to useless because it does not really correspond to the coverage (not even close to) of the lens.
The ION-230 uses a 1/2″ CMOS sensor and features a 5-elements glass lens. However, a promising specification sometimes does not reflect real-life performance. While the sensor itself is larger than the sensors of many today’s point-and-shoots (1/2.5″ or 1/2.3″), it is low in sensitivity and high in noise. Combined with the fact that the lens being fixed focus, image quality resulted is less than satisfactory compared to other 2 megapixel point-and-shoots at the same time. In today’s standard, photos it produces pretty much resemble those taken with cellphone cameras. However, to be a bit more fair, the ION-23o had a very low price tag (~$100USD) when I bought it in 2004 and it is indeed pretty small and light even in today’s standard.
The camera itself is fully automatic without even manual settings on ISO and white-balance. However, it does provides a wider than normal exposure compensation range of -3EV to +3EV. It is because of this wide compensation range that I could make the photo below:
The Story behind my Polaroid ION-230…
I bought this camera in 2004 during a trip and at that time, I know almost nothing to digital photography. I was in urgent need of a camera and I saw its low price tag from an electronics store, so I simply grabbed it without much thinking……As you can see from the first two photos, the camera was disassebled and put into a display box. However, it is not because of its age nor its low image quality but I got its battery almost exploded when I was trying to charge it!