During CES 2013, we got a chance to stop by Polaroid’s booth and then over to Sakar’s. The cameras are being manufactured under the Polaroid name but is indeed being made by Sakar. Now, Sakar also owns Vivitar and has been known for creating some quirky and super cheap cameras.
And Polaroid’s latest entry into the mirrorless market doesn’t reflect the lovable American company that I grew up knowing: but instead a weird camera concept that doesn’t exactly know what it is. After reading the Verge’s coverage and PCMag’s coverage, I had to go over and talk to them myself.
One camera has wifi built in and operates using the Android Operating system while the other has a normal interface. Unfortunately, the only working model was the one with the Android OS.
With that said, everyone stated that this camera has a CX format sensor. I specifically asked both Polaroid and Sakar this question and they stated that they’re actually aiming for a Four Thirds sized sensor; but the company said that it will be somewhere in-between both Four Thirds and CX. The only thing that I can think of at that point is black magic.
Additionally, the sensor will be built into the lens unit. The Verge stated that it will be more like the Ricoh GXR system. However, the GXR system incorporates a body, a sensor unit, and then allows the user to put a lens on if they’re using the Leica module. If you’re using the other modules though then the sensor and lens are surely packaged together.
But in the concept that we were shown, the sensor is inside of the lens. Then what the heck is that little sensor on the camera? Polaroid and Sakar stated that this is just a concept unit.
So how will you be able to get other lenses onto the camera? They will have three adapters at launch:
- A Nikon adapter
- A Canon adapter
- A Micro Four Thirds adapter
Each adapter will have a sensor built in and that then just has to hold the appropriate lens unit.
Make no mistake: this is a weird camera. In some ways, it looks like Sakar sent a Nikon 1 series camera to China and asked a company like Foxconn to make the same thing for them but cheaper. Polaroid specifically said that they’re not going after the higher end audience but instead going after the super low end. The result isn’t the AK-47 of the camera world, but instead more like the plastic peashooter.
The front of the camera is very minimal; and the units that we touched had already been properly fondled.
The top of the camera has an on/off switch, mode dial, shutter release and pop-up flash that didn’t even work when we handled the camera: that was just how much of a concept unit we saw.
The mode dial incorporates all of the PSAM modes and some auto modes. For the audience that Polaroid is going for though, they should really just have made this a fully automatic camera: or at least built in a goddamn printer.
The back of the camera is very much like a phone with no buttons but instead areas that sense your touch. Think of an Android phone’s screent that is nearly devoid of buttons but instead has these areas. That’s basically what Polaroid/Sakar have done.
The result: a camera that could have potential if marketed right. The only problem is the absolutely crum-tacular build quality. When handling it, I squeezed the camera. It felt like there was a lot of air inside.
But Polaroid has more than one camera: the other one doesn’t have Wifi built in. It is essentially the same camera but with a grippy area and a flip-up screen.
Oh, and there are buttons on the back: so that also means that this camera doesn’t have a touch screen.
In our short time with the camera, the autofocus seemed about on par with a point and shoot. But this was a pre-production unit.
Ease of Use
It seems like Polaroid’s version of Android was a bit more customized, but the interface was still very intuitive for a native Android phone user like myself.
After talking to Polaroid and then finally getting to talk to the Sakar creator, I walked away from the meeting and contemplated what occurred with Adam from Resource Magazine. In my own personal opinion, I’m deeply saddened because this camera absolutely drives the nail into the coffin in regards to the death of one of the great American photography giants. Edward Land originally created the company to satisfy his daughter’s impatience for not wanting to wait for an image to be developed. The company made some very questionable decisions in the years later and it reached the point where they totally discontinued all of their instant film production. Now they’re taking ideas and concepts from China to basically, “Me too! But for the cheaper audience.”
This is very much like knowing someone your entire life only to see their personality do a whole 360. How do you forget all of the great memories you had together before?
Sadly, we may have to. And from what I’ve seen so far after, I’m disappointed. But I’ve been wrong before–I hated the Olympus OMD EM5 when I first handled it but then I ended up buying one.
We’ll have to see later on.
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