Hello! Welcome back to Filmmaking Elements! In this article, we cover if Polaroid 600 is still a worthy camera or not!
To be frank, as somebody who has spent my entire life savings on modern digital camera equipment, I’d rather take a picture with that than with a Polaroid. All of my settings are under my control, and I can capture a clear, sharp image that I can edit later.
Plus, with digital, I’m not paying per shot. It’s kind of funny considering how far camera technology has progressed in the last ten years. Something like Polaroid might make a comeback, but there’s no doubting that actual film photographs and the simplicity of instant film have a certain allure.
With the recent revival of bohemian, vinyl, lofi music, and, of course, film, all have been acclaimed as endearing and nostalgic with their faults and graininess.
I’m going to discuss Polaroids and make a quick comparison to the new Fuji Instax cameras.
My Polaroid Sun 600 is very much the same as most other 600 models, as far as I can determine. They have this thing where they just come up with a billion different names for the same camera for some reason. A One Step Flash, a Spirit 600, a Cool Cam 600, and a variety of other names have been given to this device.
The only significant distinctions are that some of the older ones don’t have a flash and some of the later ones do, but if it’s a 600 or a 6 something, it’s in this model series. But, for now, let’s concentrate on what I have today.
Polaroid 600 In Depth Review
First impressions of the Polaroid 600 camera
It’s large and as a plastic fish at first glance, but as you open it, the appearance is undoubtedly retro and cool. Although silver and black are not the most brilliant colors, they are bold and stand out. The red highlights and distinctive logo, of course, help to complete the aesthetic.
It’s the type of retro I like greatest, with beautiful, sharp, and square angles. You also have grills on the camera’s body, which do nothing but look good. Last but not least, I adore the large, almost comedically designed lenses and flash.
In comparison to more recent cameras that prioritize usability at the expense of having truly indeterminate curves, the camera is truly a work of visual beauty. But, in all honesty, I don’t believe they considered how people would hold this camera while designing it.
If we shift our attention to the back of the camera, I’m afraid whatever accolades I gave the front don’t apply here. It’s peculiar, particularly the way the viewfinder protrudes.
Last but not least, in terms of design, the camera is a little on the cheap side in terms of build quality. Overall, the construction is sturdy, but there is a lot of squeaking and moving of the plastic pieces when you move it around. This is just in comparison to early all-metal film cameras, but these two designs of cameras are aimed at very different audiences, so it’s a little unfair.
Again, I like the camera’s appearance, but it does have some dubious design decisions.
How to use one!
Polaroids are popular because of their simplicity. The first thing you got to do is load the film. You pop the bottom off with the little switch on the bottom left, then remove the old film pack by pulling on the tab. Then you place the new one in with a firm press and it’ll shoot out the cover card.
The batteries are actually contained inside the film packs, which is sort of cool. Once you got the new film pack inside, you’ll see a counter on the back of the camera telling you how many shots you have left. It’ll go down every time you take a picture.
It’s as simple as glancing through the viewfinder to capture a picture. Then you half-press the shutter button to briefly charge the flash. A red light will be visible inside the viewfinder. You can completely press the shutter button to take your shot once it’s turned off.
After that, your photo will come out automatically with a loud motor thrum. Contrary to popular opinion, you should not jiggle the photo while it is developing because this will mix up the chemicals and cause you to lose some information.
Instead, lay the photo face down so that it is dark, according to the official guidelines. This will yield the best outcomes. That’s all there is to know about snapping a picture with Polaroid 600, however, there are a few things you should know to produce the greatest shot possible.
The light meter is one item you can mess with. The camera features a built-in sensor that detects how much light is there and automatically adjusts settings so that your image does not appear too bright or dark. However, if your images are too bright or dark in a certain situation, you can alter the front switch to brighten or darken the settings.
It’s actually kind of funny though because all the switch actually does is move a little shade over the light sensor to block or let in more light. I mean, it works though I guess.
The only disadvantage is that you won’t know whether your photo is going to be too bright or too dark until you take it and wait for it to develop.
So, that’s all there is to using the camera in a very basic manner.
Photos taken from Polaroid 600
The distinct style of photos taken from Polaroid 600 forced me to buy one. The way light reacts with the images in this camera is flabergasting.
The less contrasty tonal range and dreamy glowy highlights are one of those film characteristics which make it unique to the date and are still not achievable in any digital camera.
Of course, those changes can be done while editing a digital photo but there is a learning curve involved as well. The gritty nature and texture of the image not only preserves your memeory but preserves it in style and a distincitve feeling.
One thing to keep in mind when clicking pictures with Polaroid 600 is, that the camera reacts to light completely differently in different lighting scenarios. You will get different results in harsh sunlight than in the evenings.
Now, is that a bad thing? No! You get to experience unfimiliar styles which makes your eager to click more photographs.
That is why I click photos!
Polaroid 600 vs Fujifilm Instax cameras
I can’t deny shooting on an old Polaroid is fun, it’s an experience and you get a physical copy of your art or memory to hold onto though as mentioned, I also own two other instant film cameras, both modern-day Fujifilm Instax ones, though the Polaroid does give the largest image.
I just have to say the 600 film is honestly ridiculously expensive at the time of me writing this article. It costs over twice as much per shot as the Instax square ones.
If you do a quick comparison between the shots taken by Fujifilm Instax and Polaroid 600, you will quickly realize Polaroid clicks a little warmer while the Instax is cooler. Also, the Instax lens is a bit wider, so you have to move closer in order to line the shots up the same.
The big difference I see though is the Fujifilm Instax is sharper and more contrasty, while the Polaroid is softer in both detail and contrast. Like the Instax, the shadows are darker and the highlights are brighter.
One weird thing with Instax though that I’ve seen in other photos as well is when something gets bright like the sun or reflection, it turns black.
In some cases, I noticed that shots taken from Fujifilm Instax got warmer than Polaroid, making me believe that Instax film is warmer, but the camera has a colder flash if that makes sense. The difference was significant when shooting at locations with less light.
Each one of them honestly has its pros and cons for different scenarios. I’ve shot more Instax over the years as I’ve just owned it longer, but I feel like it is a bit more forgiving to get a decent shot. Plus it also develops in like a couple of minutes and doesn’t need to be kept in the dark.
Is Polaroid 600 still worth it?
One thing I disliked about the Polaroid is that charging the flash takes a long time and can cause you to miss a shot if you need it right away. The Instax, on the other hand, has an instant flash.
It all boils down to personal taste in terms of style and size. I enjoy the Polaroid look, but I prefer smaller, less expensive photos because you can take more photos that way, and it’s also the more beginner-friendly alternative.
Also, I haven’t tried the newest Polaroid models that have recently been released, so those may be a different story, but I’m only comparing what I have here.
Despite this, it does have one distinct advantage. The camera, as I indicated at the beginning of the article, has a certain charm about it.
Not to say the Fujis don’t, but they are unique. The Polaroid has a retro look. It appears to be authentically old. It has brand familiarity and legacy, and shooting on it is simply enjoyable.
So, while Instax is more practical and easier to suggest, Polaroids still have their place. They are similar but not identical. It has a distinct appearance.
Obviously, when shooting film cameras, it’s not always about getting the best image; sometimes it’s just about the characteristics. Even if the film is pricey, I am glad that cameras like these are regaining appeal today. Nothing is more depressing than owning a camera whose film format has been outdated and lost to time. It’s comforting to know that despite decades of service, it has yet to snap its final photograph.
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