The challenge heats up: Impossible Project preps its first instant film camera for the digital age


posted Monday, April 11, 2016 at 7:09 PM EST


When the Impossible Project first rose from the ashes of the last remaining Polaroid instant film factory in 2008, the company chose as the foundation for both its name and mission statement a quote from Polaroid founder and inventor Edwin H. Land: "Don't undertake a project unless it's manifestly important and nearly impossible".

Today, it continues to achieve what would seem near-impossibly challenging goals with the launch of the Impossible I-1, its first self-developed instant-film camera, an analog product which must sustain itself in the digital age.

The Impossible I-1 will go on sale in just four weeks time, priced at around $300. For that, you get one very uniquely-styled film camera built on the KISS principle -- Keep It Simple, Stupid. Few controls adorn its angular exterior, which manages to look at once both retro and futuristic, with a somewhat pyramid-like main body on top of the slab housing the film itself, the pairing crowned by a pop-up reticle eyepiece for framing. But that's not to say this camera will rob you of control: On the contrary, you'll be able to do quite a bit to tweak images to match your artistic vision.

The Impossible I-1 instant-film camera.

The manner in which this is achieved really separates the Impossible I-1 from its film-era predecessors. In-camera Bluetooth connectivity allows the i-1 to communicate with your iPhone, which at launch will be the only option. An Android app is promised this fall, with smartwatch apps to come later. From the app you can control shutter speed, aperture and flash settings. You can also trip the shutter remotely, hold it open for extended periods for light painting, or even open it more than once for multiple-exposure photography.

The Impossible I-1 will use the company's 600-type film, and -- if you happen to have any or can lay your hands on old stock -- will also accept old Polaroid 600 film. An infrared autofocus system is included to help get your subjects in focus. Flash is another area in which the camera differs radically from its forebears. This light-source isn't based around a traditional flash strobe, but rather a ring light-esque array of LEDs around the lens.

Impossible Project CEO Oskar Smolokowski demonstrates the I-1 camera.

Since the built-in battery in a 600-type film pack would be rather on a small side to power all of this functionality, the Impossible I-1 features a built-in, USB-rechargeable battery pack. This is said to be good for around 25 packs between charges. Few other details are available at the current time, but you can expect to see more on our news page once the full story emerges, ready to be shaken like a Polaroid picture...

(via Bloomberg)