Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Birth of the Instant Camera

In early times before the invention of digital cameras, film cameras were used by photographers and the pictures had to be processed or developed before you can get the photo itself. Because of this, the Polaroid was created. The Polaroid is a type of camera with internal processing that produces a finished print rapidly after each exposure.

The man behind the idea of the Polaroid was Edwin Land, an inventor and a physicist who was inspired by his 3-year-old daughter’s confusion on why pictures cannot be produced right away after they were taken. By 1937, he found the Polaroid Corporation which came to be known for developing the world’s first instant camera which was called the Polaroid Land camera. The first few films, which were introduced later in the 1950’s, were in sepia and black & white. The colored film only appeared later on during 1963.

By 1977, another model was made by the Polaroid Corporation called the OneStep Land Camera which became a huge hit; it was also the biggest-selling camera of any type for four years during that time. Throughout the 1990’s, the Polaroid Corporation has already made 600 series of instant cameras. Every camera has a little difference in its outward appearance but all have the similar basic design and has always been priced the same regardless of economic conditions.

Similar to the present situation where companies send free items to sponsors or celebrities for feedback on their products, the Polaroid has also done the same for their instant cameras. They gave resources to photographers or artists in exchange for feedback about their products. One of these was Ansel Adams, a landscape photographer, who was hired by Edwin land as a consultant for the company back in 1948. For Adams, “Land was convinced that images can be as effective as words and that every person has a latent ability to make effective contact with another through visual statements.” (Adams, 1985)

New innovations for the Polaroid began in 1998 when the Polaroid Company decided to make cheap disposable cameras which the people can use and then send back to the Polaroid Company to be recycled. In 1999, the Polaroid JoyCam was introduced which was cheaper and the price of the films were cheaper as well. The size of the camera was smaller than the regular size of a Polaroid camera and was good for outdoor portraits.

At present, a brand of instant cameras called Instax is very popular among the public. Instax, which is a brand of instant cameras and films, is marketed by Fujiflim since the late 1980’s. You can see a big difference towards the old-styled instant cameras and the new ones.

 Lots of features can be seen in the new instant cameras produced by Fujifil like the different appearance and design. The Instax can be bought in different colors and has a wide range of models. The latest model which was released last September 2013 was the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. This instant camera was made with a full range of camera functions including the double exposure and macro mode.

In my opinion, it is great that there are more and more innovations in these kinds of gadgets so inventions like these wouldn’t be forgotten. The concept of having a photo processed after it is captured is great for those who still love keeping photographs in albums, frames, etc. Since there are already a lot of social networking sites in the internet where you can just upload your photo and the need for developing them in shops is seldom seen, the instant camera is very useful for those who enjoy taking pictures and wanting them to be developed right away to be kept or given out to their friends, family, etc.

References: The Man Behind the Camera. March 9, 2014

Gauntlett, David. Some things about art and cities.

Bellis, Mary. Investors. Edwin Land - Polaroid Photography - Instant Photography.

Boston University. A Brief Timeline of Polaroid. March 9, 2014

Harvard Business School. Polaroid Instant Camera.

Fujifilm. Fujifilm Showcases Latest Instax Instant Film Camera Models. March 9, 2014

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