Polaroid Now+, Generation 2

Polaroid Now+, Generation 2

Polaroid Now+, Generation 2

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Polaroid Now+, Generation 2

Anyone who made photographs at least semi-seriously 50 years ago remembers how good Polaroid cameras and films used to be. There were even some situations in which professionals shot Polaroid! If you’re in this group, as I am, know this: that Polaroid is gone, likely forever. The new Polaroid has done something remarkable in making pack films from scratch, even if they widely miss the mark set by the original films. And good for them for making brand-new instant cameras! But even with expectations properly managed, the Polaroid Now+, Generation 2, disappoints.

I was excited when my sons bought me this Now+ for Christmas. The camera is good looking, evoking Polaroid cameras from the 1970s. It takes both I-Type and 600 film, which I can buy at several stores near me. Film for my SX-70 is mail-order only. The Now+ lets me shoot instant on impulse.

Polaroid Now+, Generation 2

Except that I’m unlikely to do that very often. The camera is fussy to use and the photos are poor even by modern Polaroid standards. On-camera controls aren’t intuitive and settings don’t persist after the camera turns off. The Now+ needs lots of light to yield usable images, yet overexposes in full sun. Flash is too weak to light a subject unless the room is already very well lit.

The Now+ has two lenses, both already inside the camera. The standard lens is 102.35mm at f/11, and the close-up lens is 94.96mm at f/11. Polaroid says that 35mm film shooters will experience them as 40 and 35mm, respectively. The Now+ chooses which lens to use based on focus.

Speaking of focus, Polaroid says that this is an autofocus camera, but avoids describing how the autofocus works. The camera focuses from 1.47 feet, but you’ll get parallax with subjects closer than 5.24 feet. To adjust for that, move your subject slightly up and to the left.

The shutter’s fastest speed is 1/200 sec. It operates to 1 sec. in camera and can go to 30 sec. using the phone app, which I’ll describe later. The app also enables bulb mode.

You can adjust exposure up or down ½ EV. This should have been a physical control, a dial or a switch, on the camera. Instead, Polaroid loaded this function onto the flash on/off button. Press and hold the button until the frame counter LED becomes a horizontal line. Press it again to add ½ EV; the horizontal line moves to the top of the display. Press it again to remove ½ EV; the horizontal line moves to the bottom of the display.

The camera turns off after a couple minutes, and when it does, it reverts to default settings. On a bright day I shot a pack on a long walk. I wanted to reduce exposure on each shot, and had to punch that in every time. It

You can half-press the shutter button to lock focus and exposure.

The flash is on by default; press the flash button to turn it off. The flash lights only to 6.56 feet.

The + button on the front of the camera enables three special modes. Press it once for the self-timer, which lasts 9 sec. Press it twice to enable double exposure mode — two presses of the shutter button before the camera ejects the photo. Press and hold the button to enable whatever favorite mode you set in the app. After a mode is activated, to turn it off, press the + button again or cycle the camera’s power.

The camera is powered by an integral battery, which you charge via an included USB-C cable.

My Now+ came in a kit with a lens cap and five press-on filters: orange, blue, yellow, red with a hole in the center, and starlight.

Pressing the red button takes and ejects the print. The camera integrates a “frog tongue,” a sheet of black plastic that emerges with the print, covering the emulsion side. This is necessary as the film remains light sensitive for some time after ejection. Move each print quickly to someplace dark. When I’m out and about, I just use my back pocket.

If you like instant cameras, I’ve reviewed a bunch of them. Pack-film Polaroid cameras include the Automatic 250, Big Swinger 3000, and Colorpack II (my favorite by far). Integral-film Polaroid cameras include the SX-70, OneStep 600, and One600. I’ve also reviewed the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6.

I inserted a pack immediately after unwrapping the camera. Our family room was lit only by the Christmas tree and three table lamps. My sons are a little outside the flash’s range, but even then, this image is dimmer than it ought to be.

Christmas

Later I photographed one of my sons in the same room just a couple feet from a lamp. He is well within the camera’s autofocus range, yet he came out soft.

Christmas

I had a little better luck with the camera outside. This is in line with what I expect from modern Polaroid film.

My car

I tried a pack of the black-and-white I-Type film next. I shot the whole pack on a sunny-day neighborhood photo walk. I should have made a couple test shots before blowing through the whole pack. Every image was badly overexposed. At least the effect is interesting in this photograph.

Mail Station

I shot this one twice because I forgot to turn off the flash the first time. In that shot, the flash reflected off the signs, washing them out, too.

Speed Limit 20 (no flash)

I went back to the color film, this time with black borders, on my next neighborhood walk. I reduced exposure by ½ EV on every photo in this pack. I did not enjoy having to do that. The specks on these images are in the emulsion, meaning I got a pack with poor quality control.

Playground

At least the Now+ renders color reasonably well. This sign is more yellow-green in real life, but this isn’t a bad depiction.

Crossing

I held the camera at arm’s length for this selfie. Even at -½ EV, my shirt and face are a little washed out. I was facing the sun, however.

Selfie

I stuck with my -½ EV strategy outside with another pack of the black-and-white film. The results are about as good as you’ll get from modern Polaroid film.

Tree

My living room was well lit with sunlight when I took this photo. The flash fired, but thankfully it didn’t reflect off any of the many reflective surfaces here.

My office

I started to get the hang of the Now+ only after I’d shot seven packs. That’s more than $100 worth of film. This is the kind of camera where you should get passably good photographs from the first time you press the shutter button.

Daffodils

You can download a phone app that controls the Now+ via Bluetooth. I played with it only a little. It offers some functions that the camera itself also offers, such as the self-timer and double-exposure mode. But it also lets you activate the shutter remotely, select the aperture for aperture-priority shooting, and select both aperture and shutter speed for full manual exposure. There’s also a portrait mode where the app tells you the best distance from the subject, and a light-painting mode that activates your phone’s flashlight while the shutter is open.

I played with the app only a little. I took this photo of a family heirloom clock with the tripod mode. It was evening; the room was lit only with a lamp just out of the frame on the right. The lens stayed open for several seconds.

Heirloom clock 1

I also played with the double-exposure mode, just for fun.

Timed exposure

To see more from this camera, check out my Polaroid Now+, Generation 2, gallery.

I am sorely disappointed with the Polaroid Now+. I had hoped for an instant camera that I could use like a point-and-shoot, getting photographs that were as good as the film’s limitations. Instead, I got a camera that requires thought and counterintuitive actions to use, and whiffs as many shots as it gets right.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.

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