The Polaroid instant camera has been reborn. The original creator of the instant camera has come out with a new range last year, which I got to briefly play with at Mobile World Congress. It’s been brought to South Africa by a distributor and will be available through various retailers like Takealot and ORMS. The range includes the Snap and Snap Touch instant cameras, along with the dinky little ZIP printer.

I can’t speak about Polaroid’s cameras without mentioning FujiFilm. I’m a huge fan of FujiFilm’s range of Instax cameras (I’ve reviewed at least three products on this blog, and wrote about it for almost every publication I contributed to, and subsequently bought two of them). I believe that Polaroid may have seen the success of Instax over the years and decided to relaunch a range. So when I got a mail about Polaroid’s cameras coming to South Africa, I had to compare. 

Here’s my snapshot (haha) review of the Polaroid Snap Touch that I used for a month.

  • The Snap Touch is an instant digital camera that works differently to the Instax that I own. This means when you take a photo, it appears on the LCD screen so you can see it before you print it. It’s all digital.
  • It has a 13-megapixel sensor to take photos, which is a noticeable improvement on the picture quality, vs the Instax. You can see more detail on the images.
  • The 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen lets you view pictures before you print it out, and make edits. Edits include centralising, adding the classic Polaroid border, changing it to black & white, sepia or other built-in colours like vintage, but I didn’t print any other than colour, which I spruced up. The screen is a bit grainy.
  • The screen itself and interface feels dated, like something from the early 2000s. Sometimes it takes more than one tap to register your action, which admittedly could get frustrating. Unless you’re very patient. Then you won’t notice and this won’t be a factor.
  • It has some on-board storage, which appears to hold about 11 images I think from what I’ve noticed with my review unit. It can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card. I put in an old microSD card but apparently it wasn’t in the right format so that didn’t work. I put some images I had taken on my smartphone via my MacBook onto the card before inserting it into the camera thinking I could print it but that failed.
  • The prints come out in a little credit card sized images which are 2 x 3 inches; so wallet sized. It uses Polaroid’s zero ink technology (ZINK) to print images. They take a bit longer to come out of the camera than with an Instax. You don’t have to “shake” the photo to help it develop. The print quality is decent. I prefer the Instax in this regard. It also has something to do with what the photo feels like in your hand.
  • The printing tray inside the camera holds 10x sheets of ZINK paper. They are just 2 x 3-inch sized rectangles, with no border like the Instax.
  • The camera has some Bluetooth capability but I couldn’t find a way to use it with my other devices.
  • It has a self-timer if you want to take a group shot with everyone in it. I tested out the regular old-fashioned way (?) of just sticking my arm out and snapping a photo. Weirdly, it took more than one try to for the shutter button to register. Anyway, I was happy with the result, taken outdoors late afternoon but not in direct sunlight. 
  • You have the option to use flash or not, I always opt not to, unless if it’s dark or at night. But in all honesty, I would rather avoid taking photos on an instant camera if it’s too dark. It’s too expensive and you know the quality isn’t gonna be great.
  • The power button is actually the pop-up flash. You press it and it switches on. The mechanism on this is a bit frustrating when you want to shut it down – it took me about four tries to turn it off at one point.
  • The camera itself is a bit heavier than I expected. If you’re carrying it around when traveling, you will need some sort of protection other than popping it into your bag. Try to get a cover for it.
  • It has full 1080p HD video recording supported, but why? Your smartphone would be a better choice for any occasion. 

If you’re thinking of buying the Polaroid Snap Touch, keep in mind it is a digital camera (unlike the Instax that’s currently available in SA) and that you are paying for the name too. While the photos are more crisp and sharp, the print itself doesn’t have the same look and feel as the Instax, which has a softer look to its photos and the borders of the photo paper are just nicer. The ZINK paper is a lot cheaper than the Instax ones, and available in packs of 30. With a Polaroid instant camera, know that you’re paying for the branding.

PRICE: R3 389 on (all colours available)
ZINK PAPER: R349 for a pack of 30