Polaroid instant-cam more of a party animal [Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.]
(Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 16--One of my fondest childhood memories of the 1970s, gadget supergeek that I am, is of my dad's Polaroid SX-70, an elegantly leather-clad instant-film camera that collapsed into a neat rectangle when not being used.
I adored the immediacy of prints materializing from the front of the camera and developing before my eyes.
Polaroid is now recreating this experience, affordably but imperfectly, with its Z2300, which also spits out instant-film snapshots and, unlike an SX-70, doubles as a digital still and video camera.
At $250, the black or white camera with classic Polaroid multi-color stripe is nearly an impulse purchase, yet it incorporates an advanced technology called Zink for creating those physical shots.
Zink is short
for "zero ink." Instead of ink, the Zink paper incorporates crystals that change color when heated inside the camera. The photos emerge fully developed from a slot in the device.
The camera offers lots of printing options, such as cropping, multi-image arrangements, and classic Polaroid borders and hues.
This is fine, but the snapshots are small -- 2 by 3 inches -- and not of the highest visual quality. I don't think this is a dealbreaker in the Instagram age since the low-cost camera is awesome for creating keepsakes at social gatherings. Potential buyers need to adjust their expectations. This also applies to the device's digital features.
The Z2300 is a serviceable if bulky camera with a primitive-looking (and nontouch) viewfinder
but produces reasonably good-quality still images and HD-video footage. It lacks optical zoom, but you can flip between landscape and macro modes. There's a timer and flash capability, too.
The Z2300 has a slew of preshooting adjustments -- as you'd expect with any modern camera -- along with post-shooting adjustments such as red-eye removal.
I doubt anyone would want to use the Z2300 as a primary camera, with so many higher-quality options out there. Even recent-model smartphones trounce
the Polaroidcam in the digital-photo department. But as a second camera to pull out at parties, it's great.
A 30-sheet pack of photo paper costs $16, and a 50-sheet pack is $25. The paper is simple to load into the camera -- kind of like putting paper into the office copier but on a far smaller scale. The Zink prints turn into stickers when their adhesive backing is peeled off -- so I can envision users creating collages to commemorate special events.
Zink, from Massachusetts-based owner Zink Imaging, has been around for a while.
I tested Polaroid's Zink-based PoGo printer in 2008, and am disappointed that the print quality has not seen dramatic improvement.
Perhaps it might eventually, at a reasonable cost to consumers. If so, Zink could garner more than a niche audience and go down in history as the Polaroid technology of the 21st century.
The Zink-ified Z2300, though, isn't even close.
It's no SX-70.
(c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
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