Polaroid today has announced, for the first time in decades (since Spectra!), an entirely new film format form factor. It looks like basically a smaller version of classic 600/I-Type. I had to check, because for a second I thought they were using Fuji Instax Square film in the same way that the shell company that owned the Polaroid name once released ‘Polaroid’ cameras that used Fuji Instax Mini film. Despite it being very, very close in size (Instax Square is 2.4 inches wide, while Polaroid Go film is 2.1 inches wide), it is indeed different.
But they sort of buried the lede, because the actual ‘announcement’ was for the new Polaroid Go camera that happens to use this film. The camera looks very cute, very well designed, and very tiny. There’s not much information to share yet, but pre-orders seem to be open. You can check out what details there are over at Polaroid’s site.
Which gets me to my mixed feelings. On one hand, it makes total sense for Polaroid to release a competitor to Fuji Instax Mini. It’s a hugely popular format! Smaller film allows for smaller cameras and cheaper film. It’s great for events and having fun. However, Polaroid’s strength has always been that despite being more expensive and somewhat more difficult to use, it provides for some of the best results for serious photographers. The larger frame size, paired with pro-level vintage camera equipment, is why I absolutely love Polaroid. The smaller Go tosses away all these advantages, and it is going to be very tough for Polaroid to beat Fuji Instax and Square on their own turf. Instax packs of film are cheaper, have 10 frames instead of 8, and are distributed everywhere. There’s room for both, and I think this can potentially work out for Polaroid in the wider market, but it’s not a sure thing.
Ultimately, I think the reason I’m frustrated is not because this product exists, but that it comes before Polaroid has released a proper ‘pro’ camera or even fixed the issues with their entry level Polaroid Now. It’s clear the days of the Impossible Project catering to a small but incredibly devoted fan base have long passed. Polaroid is looking to the wider market, but let’s hope they don’t stumble down the same bad path that caused the company to discontinue their instant film in 2008 in the first place.