Polaroid One

Introduced in 1981, nine years after the release of the legendary SX-70, the Polaroid 600 film has a much faster ISO (rate at about ISO640) than its predecessor (ISO125). Size-wise, they are both 3 1/8″ x 3 1/8″. However, unlike the early SX-70 series, most 600 series cameras (except the SLR680/690) are simple point-and-shoot equivalents. The Polaroid One above and its siblings constitute the last iteration of the 600 series cameras and were all released in early 2000s, around the same time Polaroid filed bankruptcy. They includes the Polaroid One of this post, the One Ultra, the One Pro, plus about 10 special editions, including the rare red color One600 Rossa.

All cameras in the One family has a 2-elements 100mm f12.9 lens that is seemingly uncoated. The lens on the Polaroid One is focus-free and has a minimum focusing distance of 3 feet. On the other hand, some models offer auto-focus while some others can focus down to 18 inches. Shutter speed is adjusted automatically from 1/3 to 1/200 seconds and a small LCD is used to display frame count, flash mode, and self-timer on/off. The Polaroid One of this post has three flash modes: on (default), red-eye reduction, and off. The last setting is a valuable feature as even some of the modern instant cameras, like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 and the Instax Wide 300, do not have a flash-off setting. These cameras either fire their flashes every time or automatically when there is not enough light.

People who are familiar with Polaroid cameras would find that the One is missing the dark and light settings. In other words, there is no exposure compensation which is quite a problem for this camera. An online review of a sibling, the One600, states that the meter tends to underexpose a bit. I found the same is true for mine, at least from the limited experience of using it (as the film is VERY expensive).

Polaroid discontinued the production of all films in 2008. Since then, the Impossible Project has taken on the task in manufacturing instant film in the formats of SX-70, 600/I-Type, Spectra, and 8×10 sheets. However, using the Impossible replacements requires more care and time. First of all, it takes longer to develop (up to 10 minutes) which is fine for many of today’s Polaroid shooters who use them as tools of fine art rather than for vacation snapshots. The major disadvantage is in fact that after the exposed film is ejected from the camera, it is still sensitive to light especially for first 10 seconds. In other words, one need to hide it from light immediately. When I said “immediately”, I really meant it because even a 1~2 seconds delay before putting the exposed film in a dark box can fog up the whole shot as shown in the image on the right below. The left image was obtained from using the “dark slide” (which is the first shot of the pack as Impossible film has 8 shots instead of 10) to cover the exposed film from light (there is still some fogging though).

Finally, I did a little post-processing from the scan of the left image and got the following…it would be great if I can obtain this level of brightness and contrast directly fro the camera.

Status : In Collection


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