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Millennials can now have their Polaroid moment

Blow up: Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 i-Type in white

You maybe grew up with one of your Dad’s lying around. You maybe saw your first one in a Madonna movie (Desperately Seeking Susan), or Christopher Nolan’s Memento, or even Stranger Things 2.

We’re talking about the Polaroid, Edwin Land’s innovative self-developing film and camera that first hit the market in the blow-dried, Star Wars year of 1977. Yes, it went off the market finally in 2008, and decades of digital cameras and effects have seemingly pushed aside its quirky allure. But in our social media age, a gazillion Instagrammers have seemingly developed a crush on its imperfect, insta-photo appeal: that white-cornered photo look that not even a bunch of digital filters can replicate.

And now, the Polaroid is back, thanks to The Impossible Project, a company that purchased all of Polaroid Corporation’s film stock and technology when it went bankrupt in ‘08, and has since rebranded itself as Polaroid Originals. It’s an eerily familiar simulation of the original Polaroid experience. That boxy symbol of all things cool and retro-filmy was launched anew in September 2017 as the Polaroid OneStep 2.

 

 

 

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Available in white or graphite i-Type models, the new OneStep looks a lot like the classic Polaroid Land Camera 1000, but there are some changes: no longer a slave to chromium batteries, the OneStep 2 comes with a microUSB charger (boasting a 60-day battery life). There’s also an exposure slider and self-timer, a flash (on or off) and an orange LED showing your charge levels. It’s basically the same Polaroid camera as before: an easy-to-use point-and-shoot with a big red button, high-quality zero-to-infinity lens and powerful flash. Sold exclusively at Bratpack stores for now (retailing about P8,900), the Polaroid OneStep 2 also comes with a variety of film options: color and B&W are available for i-Type and vintage 600 type cameras; SX-70 vintage cameras (the more professional line); and vintage Spectra cameras. (A cool development: in addition to offering film that fits even your old Polaroid cameras, the company also offers a refurbishing service to get them up and running.)

As an experiment, Polaroid Originals handed out new cameras to photographer Patrick Diokno, chef and photographer Nicco Santos and lifestyle blogger Ida Anduyan; the results, exhibited at The Gallery in Greenbelt 5, were as unpredictably artsy as their youthful snappers. The B&W shots remind us of the gritty days of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, while the color shots have that worn, retro feel we tend to reach for when we hit the “Nashville” filter on Instagram.

Based in the Netherlands and locally in Hong Kong, Polaroid Originals brought its reps James Lao and Cirry Poon to demonstrate some of the functions over lunch at Greenbelt 5’s John & Yoko. Cirry showed how the OneStep spits out a black photo that self-develops in about 10-15 minutes (an improvement over the 30 minutes back in your Dad’s day). Newbies were interested to note that you place the undeveloped photo facedown, so that the chemicals embedded in its reverse side have time to seep into the frame area and — voila! — your image appears. James, formally from the fashion industry, gamely pointed out that with the OneStep 2, you can actually do double exposures: that’s right, by shutting off the camera right after clicking the red button, then turning it back on a few seconds later, you’re ready for a second exposure. But be wary: Polaroid film ain’t cheap, and each shot should be very carefully considered, because there’s no “Delete” button. Just sayin’.

I asked blogger Ida whether she’d tried doing selfies with the OneStep. Not so easy, she admits; there’s no reverse mirror to see what you’re shooting, so it’s best to let a friend take your Polaroid selfie moment. Also, we’re very used to big camera screens showing us what we’re shooting; the OneStep has an old-fashioned eyepiece that you have to look through carefully to frame your shot. (Things in retro land take time, after all.)

For those millennials and Gen-Zs looking for a nostalgia fix, who knows? The unique nature of the Polaroid experience could open up new ways of seeing the world — without filters.

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