Everyone loves an instant picture, and for the longest time when Polaroid exited the market in 2001, Fujifilm’s Instax series had monopoly on instant cameras and film. Even the Leica Sofort uses the Instax Mini film format. But in 2008, the Impossible Project took over the manufacture of the original format of Polaroid film, and came full circle in recent years to become the Polaroid brand themselves. They’ve been steadily releasing instant cameras and the latest one is possibly their best one yet.
Above: The POLAROID GO next to the Leica M10-R, which itself isn’t a very big camera.
Meet the Polaroid Go — a palm-sized instant camera that is compact, incredibly cute, and surprisingly well-built for its size. It measures 5.9 x 3.3 x 2.4 inches, and has shutter speeds of 1/30 to 1/125 and a f/12 & f/52 34mm lens (35mm equivalent). The exterior features a smooth, matte finish with comfortable curves that feel really good in the hand. There’s a mirror finish on the front of the viewfinder for taking easy selfies, a neat flash, a timer, and a double exposure feature — a nice touch for a retro-looking device.
Above: The front of the POLAROID GO.
Above: The back of the POLAROID GO features the power button.
The camera charges via a USB cable that’s included (but not the charging head). One full charge is said to last across 15 packs of film! And as expected, the camera is in a league of its own and uses special film that is sized just for it. The film measures 2.6 x 2.1 inches, is rated at 640 ISO, and sold in a box of two packs, with each pack having 8 pieces of film.
Above: The twin pack of FILM for the polaroid go.
Loading the film cartridge into the camera is simple. Just line up the arrows highlighted in yellow.
Above: Loading the film cartridge into the camera.
Above: a new film cartridge sitting inside the camera.
Once the “door” is shut, the protective cover gets spit out (the same way this happens with all other instant cameras). What’s unusual about the Polaroid Go is that the black film rolls out with the picture and keeps it covered so the photo is shielded from light and doesn’t immediately over-expose. And you need to manually lift it to recoil it back into the camera.
Above: a black protective film covers the picture when it ejects.
The instruction manual says that it takes 10-15 minutes for the picture to develop, and that it needs to do so in darkness. Generally, Polaroid film is very sensitive to bright light during the first few minutes of development (hence the protective film over the photo when it ejects). I took the advice of my fellow photographer, Aik Beng, to place the photo into a black box and let it develop inside for the time required.
Above: Placing the photo inside a black box to develop.
The below photo is taken with flash (left) and without flash (right). The flash isn’t terribly strong so in darker environments, you will want to get closer to your subject to make sure there’s enough light. In the example below, the use of flash produced a cooler-toned photo, while the one without flash was warmer in colour.
The stickers on the photos were pasted by my five-year-old in the picture. She saw the pack of stickers that came with the camera and immediately went for them (also because everything looks like a rainbow).
Above: Shooting with (left) and without (right) the in-built flash.
Here’s the sticker sheet I was talking about:
Above: even i love the stickers. right now, a good deal of them are decorating my POLAROID GO.
Next, I decided to try to shoot the landscape from my window. The picture on the left was taken at night, and the one on the right, during the day in bright sunlight (both were taken without flash). The shadows are much heavier when there’s less light (obviously), but it created an interesting texture for the clouds. I wouldn’t recommend shooting dark scenes with the Polaroid Go unless you’re close to the subject and intending to use flash.
Above: landscape night shot (left) and daytime shot (right).
Finally, I tried the double exposure function. It’s not bad but came out over-exposed. And I’m pretty sure it’s because I fired the flash both times. This feature needs some trial and error to figure out the best settings (with or without flash, ambient lighting, the distance from the subject) to get the picture you want.
Above: experimenting with the double exposure function.
While the photos themselves are really very small and cute, they aren’t sharp. But that’s kinda expected because ultimately, it is a Polaroid. Polaroids produce moody shots full of charm; they have all the characteristics of an analog camera — and with the Polaroid Go, the pictures appear to have a pinkish tone. Personally, I love it.
Inside every pack of film, there’s a sheet of 8 double-sided stickers for mounting your pictures on the wall. It’s nice that Polaroid thought to include this although it’s not necessary.
Above: Double-sided stickers that come with the POLAROID GO film.
Here’s a lineup of Polaroid cameras from past to present so you have a better idea how compact the Polaroid Go is.
Above: (from left to right) polaroid 600 onestep close up (from early 1990s), polaroid 500 Land Camera (1970s), and POLAROID GO (2021).
Just like all instant photography, be prepared to take multiple photos of the same thing because all your friends will want to take one home.
Polaroid Go is priced at $208 for the camera, and $36 for the twin pack film. You can also save time and get the starter kit for $244, which includes the camera and one box of twin pack film. available at SHOPEE.