There are numerous instant camera brands out there, but without a doubt the most famous is Polaroid. The latest analogue camera from Polaroid is the Now+, which boasts the classic design of past cameras from the brand, but includes new features via the companion app so users can get creative.
I’ve spent some time with the Polaroid Now+ to see how it performs in day-to-day use, and how it stacks up against rivals.
Design and build
Classic, retro, Polaroid style
Heavy and bulky – not suitable for on the go use
Tripod mount and physical lens available
The Polaroid Now+ comes in a choice of three matt finishes: blue-grey, black and white. The front includes the lens, flash, charging slot, the shooting button and the film tray, whilst the back includes the power and flash toggle buttons.
There’s also a stripe down the centre of the camera, along with a Polaroid Now+ logo – perfect for flaunting that branding should you wish.
Whilst the design may be a positive for keen retro Polaroid fans, it’s highly impractical. It’s bulky and an awkward shape, meaning it can’t slip into a bag with ease. This is especially true in comparison to rivals from the likes of Instax, which are slim, rectangular and much easier to port around.
That said, this camera includes a remote shooting feature via the Polaroid app, as well as a universal mount for tripods. Therefore, if you plan on using this camera without holding it, the design may not be as much of a deal breaker.
Along with the camera, you also get five different physical lenses which snap onto it. These also come with a handy carry case. There’s no carry case included with the camera, but you can buy these directly from Polaroid.
To load the film, you open the tray at the bottom, and then print out the protective layer on your first load. The darkslide stays in the camera and rolls out with the image when it prints to protect it from any potential light interference in the first few seconds.
The camera comes with a microUSB charger, with a port on the right-hand side. The camera can last up to 100 prints, and I haven’t had to reach for the cable during my time testing it after using it from full charge. It takes around two hours to charge from flat to full, according to Polaroid.
Features and image quality
Remote shooting and light painting are the standout modes
Getting a good shot is hit-and-miss
Portrait mode did not work
This Polaroid camera takes i-Type film, which is a reasonably large square that has a small border around it. The photos are much larger than the likes of what the Instax Mini 40 takes, but therefore can’t fit inside a wallet or small pocket easily.
Like the Polaroid Now, you can just use this camera as a point-and-shoot, should you wish. For the best colours and details, you should take photos outside in the daylight – ideally with light behind you. Images have a distinct, vintage feel to them.
If you have less light – such as if you’re indoors or taking a photo in the shade – then the quality of the image noticeably drops. Colours are much more muted, and at times it’s hard to even get a decent image at all. I took one photo outside in the early evening with a decent amount of light and can barely make out any details in the photo.
The Polaroid app is what you need to take full advantage of this camera. The modes you get on this include remote shooting, self-timer, double exposure, aperture mode, portrait mode, light painting, tripod and manual – which gives you full control over how the camera shoots.
Some of these features were cool to test out – light painting allowed me to get creative with different effects in an otherwise pitch-black room, and the remote shooting feature made taking photos without a photographer much easier.
However, I couldn’t get portrait mode to work at all. The app kept telling me as I was either at the wrong distance from the camera, or that the lighting conditions weren’t right.
If you’re looking for an easy point and shoot camera, I wouldn’t say that this is the one. It’s much harder to get a good picture on this camera than on a device from Instax, and the plethora of features mean that it’s more suited to creatives and photography aficionados who are willing to experiment with manual lighting and settings.
Photos are printed as soon as the shutter button (on the app or on the camera) is pressed and take around 10-15 minutes to develop. The lighting and temperature conditions that you’re in can affect the final outcome of the image – check the Polaroid website for getting the best Polaroid images.
Price and availability
The Polaroid Now+ costs £139.99/US$149.99 and is available for purchase from the Polaroid website both in the UK and US.
This is more expensive than other instant cameras on the market, which is due to the customisation options available. If having the app for remote shooting doesn’t bother you, but you still want a Polaroid, the Polaroid Now is a cheaper model that launched last year.
There’s also the cost of film to take into consideration. One pack of i-Type film (available in either colour or black and white) costs £14.99/$15.99 and contains eight prints. It is more expensive than the likes of Instax prints, which costs £14.99/$19.95 for a pack of 20 photos.
These costs can add up quick, especially when you consider that getting a good shot on the Polaroid Now+ can take a few goes.
To see other options, you can take a look at our picks of the best instant cameras. We also have a list of the best instant printers, which includes the Polaroid Hi-Print for fans of the brand.
The Polaroid Now+ is much more versatile than its predecessor, with the app features for remote shooting and other custom options opening up more possibilities to get creative with your instant camera.
However, its bulky size, inconsistent shots and high costs make it hard to recommend to people who want an instant camera to use casually on the go. This is much more suited to fans of the brand, and budding photographers.
Polaroid Now+: Specs
150.16 x 112.2 x 95.48mm
457g (without film pack)
Shutter system: 1/200 – 1sec. (Camera only),
1/200 – 30 sec. and Bulb mode (App Mode)
Standard Lens focal length: 102.35mm (40mm/35 equivalent)
Close-up Lens focal length: 94.96mm (35mm/35 equivalent)
41° horizontal field of view, 41° vertical field of view
Auto-Adjust Output Vacuum discharge tube strobe system
Lens filter kit
USB charging cable
Neck strap included
Tripod mount on base of camera
Requires Polaroid i-Type film
Film size – 107 x 88mm
Image size – 79 x 79mm
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