Square prints at last for Fuji's instant cameras


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/19/square-prints-at-last-for-fuji.html


Thanks Rob, I needed an idea for an upcoming Baby Shower thingy.


Sorry to be a buzzkill - integrating digital functionality to an Instax (basically a Polaroid) camera contradicts the beauty of analog photography. This makes it basically just a color printer with a lens, and where’s the fun in that? [Anyone wanting to experience the full thrill of Instax analog photography would be wise to consider a Jollylook.]


It would appear that this isn’t an analog camera at all(in principle, one could use an optical splitter to put both an analog and a digital imaging apparatus in the same body, with both units afforded the same field of view, lens, etc. but the fact that you can review and even edit before printing, as well as reprint, obviously implies that this isn’t how it is being done).

What doesn’t seem to be mentioned; but would be interesting to know, is the mechanism by which the analog prints are produced. Typical ‘just graft a printer on’ jobs tend to favor dye sublimation onto photo-y paper; which works well enough but doesn’t involve any ‘film’ at all in any meaningful sense. The other option, mostly used by larger scale printing services to produce prints that very closely resemble the photochemical stuff; because they are; involves using the digital image to drive a display or RGB laser system(like the “Lightjet” devices) to expose actual film; which then gets developed normally from there.

If this ‘Instax Square’ format is just obnoxiously expensive bundles of paper and dye-sub strips, it’s not very interesting. If they’ve managed to cram a film exposure based printing arrangement into something of this size and price; I’m not sure that I see the point; but it would undeniably be technically impressive. Unfortunately, no information appears to be available on how the ‘square’ format film works, as yet.


While I like the idea in theory, my first take on this (besides ouch, the price) is how weirdly fat and chunky and large this thing is for what it’s doing. It looks like a piece of technology left over from 2002, an old frogdesign concept piece made real.


I suspect that they could have chosen to go with harder, more angular, edges; which might have triggered fewer chubbiness associations; but I’d bet that the guts are fairly tightly packed. Printers are fiddly to miniaturize; and(unlike a classic Polaroid) there isn’t the fairly large chunk of space devoted to the optical elements required to neatly project what is entering the lens across the entire film area.

It looks like they at least sprang for some amount of optical zoom; but thanks to cellphones any camera module not aimed at people who prefer lenses that cost more than this camera is a pretty teeny thing; and the supporting electronics probably fit on a single PCB.


You can buy a lot of Impossible Project film for $280. Ancient Sun 600 for the win.


About 100 images of Impossible Project film.

The real question is the film. I can’t find any info on price. Current cost of instant film is $2-3 per shot. If these come in sub $1 per shot, this could be interesting.


Exactly my point, a digital camera that makes prints. Antithetical to the vintage Polaroid ethos.


Presumably it is the same OLED system as in their standalone Instax printers which use the same film as their fully analog cameras.


Given how stupidly expensive these prints are for the shitty level of image quality (And this is from a guy who likes the grubby lo-fi aesthetic and believes that grain is good), a review option before printing seems like a no-brainer to me. I’ll probably buy one simply due to missing shooting square with my old Mamiya.

I understand Polaroids version of the same tech is prone to crashes and needs to be manually rebooted regularly. I wonder if Fuji has managed to avoid that?


When you say “vintage Polaroid ethos”, do you mean the ethos of the Polaroid users of The Before Times, or the ethos of present-day users of vintage equipment?


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