First Impressions: Polaroid Pop (Square Format zINK Paper)

The Polaroid Pop isn’t from the company Polaroid Originals–and that’s absolutely showing in every single way. By all means, this is a digital camera designed to simulate the Polaroid and Instant film experience without using anything nearly close to the original film. The new zINK paper is designed to be more square in format to seem a bit more like what the Impossible Project tried for years to keep alive and that Polaroid Originals now manufactures. So at a recent event here in NYC, I had the chance to play with the Polaroid Pop. I’ve tried some of the company’s other cameras and I simply cannot get behind the idea of zINK. The Polaroid Pop is really no exception.

Tech Specs

For the most knowledge about this camera, I really recommend just checking out our initial news announcement. But here’s a blurb from it:

“At CES 2017, Polaroid is building on the success of their zInk products and giving the masses something just a tad larger. the Polaroid Pop is going to be printing out 3.5 x 4.25 images using the 20MP CMOS sensor at the heart the camera and then printing the photos. Plus it will be able to shoot full 1080p HD video. A micro SD card will store your digital photos and the 3.97 inch touchscreen will help you frame and navigate the camera’s menus.”

Ergonomics

The Polaroid Pop is a camera that makes no sense to me as an older millennial man who knows and understands film and what Polaroid was. So when I look at this camera, I see it as a digital shell of what the company was–gutted only to replace the mechanical rollers and bellows systems with what I’d basically call a glorified phone camera with a printer built in and a far more limited interface. So with that said, let’s start. This screen is what you’ll be looking at most of the time. It’s a fairly good screen and the big red button is designed for you to push and shoot a photo. You can digitally zoom with the lens/sensor and cycle through the various menus using the screen.

The little blue area on the bottom also comes off–a bit too easily for my liking.

Turn to the other side and you’ll find the side of the Polaroid Pop that you’ll be pointing towards things fairly often. That’s the camera and lens along with the flash. The entire surface of the Polaroid Pop is glossy and semi slippery. I really wish that it had textures on it to make it easier to hold and at least better placement for straps.

On the top of the Polaroid Pop is where the film comes out. At the event I was attending (Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular) I couldn’t really take photos with the camera because the Polaroid reps were low on film. However, I saw the results.

I’ll get thoroughly heated about them later on.

On the bottom the Polaroid Pop you can see this area. You can slip film into here and also put an SD card in there.

Build Quality

Ummmm, the Polaroid Pop is plastic fantastic in so many ways. My biggest issue with many of Polaroid’s cameras is that they’re very slippery with no real area to hold the camera ergonomically. It feels cheap and even the LCD screen and the interface on the Polaroid Pop and others that I’ve used is a bit slow and at times laggy.

Ease of Use

The Polaroid Pop has a fairly intuitive interface as long as you think about the symbols and go slowly. It can record both photos and video. Plus you can review images, go through the settings, etc.

The Polaroid Pop’s menus aren’t that long thankfully. But navigation at times can be a bit difficult to do. Perhaps this is due to my understanding of how things work with many other manufacturers and thinking that they should work here. But of course, Polaroid is drumming to their own beat.

Image Quality

*Sigh*

The Polaroid Pop shoots with zINK paper. You can have the image take up the full area of the paper or you can have it look like a Polaroid picture with a frame. Either way, I’m not a fan. The prints look cheap–they’re akin to something that I’d have printed out at Costco or Walgreens.

First Impressions

I’m not at all a fan of the Polaroid Pop. Maybe I’m just angered at the fact that the zINK format exists and that the company references their history (which was gutted), all the time in their marketing. Plus they do everything they can to make the images look like the original but they’re clearly not. The closest things are Fujifilm Instax and Polaroid Originals’ film. Through little bits of misinformation and the world of people simply not understanding any of this stuff, a newer generation of photographers think that they’re getting real Polaroids. Thankfully, I’ve honestly never even seen one of these cameras out in the wild. However, they tend to sell well. And that to me is quite sad.