Impossible I-1

The clean lines and design

To the many fans who followed (and currently follow) the process of development and improvement of Impossible instant film, it has been clear while years passing  the basis of Polaroid used cameras  was wearing thin and would become increasingly difficult find good condition samples, excluding those reconditioned and sold by the same Dutch company; also, the basic characteristics and features of type 600 cameras could now become reason of disaffection with consequent reduction of potential customers.

So in mid-2016 makes its appearance on the market the Impossible I-1, the first brand new camera for 600 films of the 21st century! This is a completely new design, which combines a retro feel in shape and a good set of modern features that recall the typical functions of digital cameras. For a year now since its introduction the Impossible I-1 did not depopulated as hoped by the producer (worth to mention the price far from popular about three hundred euro) but it still has a good degree of diffusion that bodes well for future developments.

How does it works

The package is well taken care of but essential, as the camera in it: in addition to Impossible I-1, we find a number of small manuals and tips sheet, USB charging cable, a lens cleaning cloth and leather strap with the relative screws to attach to the rear of the machine. The camera shows a black plastic body with a finish that returns a feeling of soft rubber and slightly opaque and an original form that recalls vaguely a running Polaroid SX-70 as well as a OneStep camera; the wide base is equipped with studs to make balance the support out of smooth surfaces, while the pyramid-shaped body (which contains within it the mirror for image reflection) ends with the typical Galilean collimation lens, attached to the body thru a magnetic system.

12 LED ring flash

Contributes to the clean design even the almost total absence of controls, consisting just of a circular three-position switch for turning on the camera, located on the body side, the flash and exposure adjustments enabling switches, located on opposite sides of the lens barrel; on top of the base there is opening switch of film compartment, whose window opens from the front as in the classic Polaroid 600.

But the first thing that characterises and distinguishes the Impossible I-1 is undoubtedly the great flash  that surrounds the lens, formed by eight white LEDs (plus an additional four which operate at short focus distances not to harden the shadows in portraits); looking better on the front of the camera, you will see additional LEDs  which have different functions, and a USB socket, with its led, positioned below the film eject window: this is representative of another big news. In fact, the Impossible I-1 has its own internal rechargeable battery and no longer depends on the inserted film and relative batteries and that’s why Impossible Project has also launched a new range of cartridge (I-type film) without battery inside (these films cannot be used with traditional Polaroid cameras, obviously).

The Bluethooth LED

Despite a few commands, the functions allowed and the levels of user interaction are really increased from old vintage cameras; The Impossible I-1 turns up thru the side knob which rotates to align the yellow lines present on the external ring and on the body side: Red led lights up when switched on close to the USB port and stays lit unless the battery needs charging (in which case, it would be flashing); for a few moments some of the leds will illuminate to show, according to their numbers, how many frames are still available in the cartridge, not being available the classic mechanichal frame counterof the old Polaroids.  Unfortunately, the fact that LEDs available are only eight portends that probably we will never see the cartridge with the classic 10 shots!

Once turned on the camera and opened the upper retractable viewfinder you’re ready to take the picture: you should probably get used to the Galilean Finder collimation, where to get the correct framing you must remember that the big circular spot screen printed on the lens back scope represents what  the central axis of the lens “sees”; the circular ring printed on the frontal lens is helpful when you use the special films “Round Frame”. The shutter command button is a double-level pressure button in which the first step halfway activates the autofocus and metering system while the full stroke triggers the shutter and consequentially ejects exposed film. The autofocus is a wreath of plastic lenses that go to modify the geometry of the optics according to five different focusing steps and its sensors are positioned in the lower part of the flash ring.

The manual mode screen

So far the classical operating cycle which, except for autofocus and flash, isn’t much different from that of classic Polaroid 600 cameras; but the Impossible I-1 is, as mentioned earlier, a modern camera with a range of modern features: by simply further rotate the main switch the camera will go into Bluethooth mode, indicated by a blue led in the flash ring. By now, you take control of the camera using an app (Ios and Android) that manages all functions and adds several shooting modes. The available functions are as follows:

Remote shutter: allows you to place where you want the camera, thanks to the standard tripod socket  on the bottom, and take shots via smartphone

Delayed shutter release: allows you to set a fshutter firing delay in 5, 10 or 20 seconds

Double exposure: inevitable, allows two shots before activating the film ejection

Noise control: a variant of remote shutter release in which you record with your smartphone sounds and decibel threshold that you want to use to activate the shot (for example, clapping). So, it’s a noise-controlled shutter activation

Light paint and color paint: these are long exposure shooting modes that allow you to use the led and the screen of your smartphone to create light effects

Manual mode: by far the most interesting and creative mode, which allows you to adjust aperture, shutter speeds, focusing distance, flash activation and number of multiple exposures, including meter reading

Align the point with the center of the viewfinder

It is clear that with these new features the Impossible I-1 brings a level of creativity and of operation unthinkable using the old Polaroid cameras: just a pity that all of this is available only via smartphones, going slightly against analog philosophy but it is equally true that the classical operation without smartphone retains the charm of the old point and shoot instant cameras while guaranteeing improvements in the accuracy of the images thanks to the autofocus system and the good flash system. Comparing the shots with those of an ordinary Polaroid 600 you’ll notice the greater accuracy of focus resulting in better definition, net of Impossible film defects (a new generation of films will arrive in a couple of months by the way).

Also, the exposure appears more accurate and it is generally centered for distances greater than 2 m, while in the short distance the camera tends to overexpose a little (resolves using the adjustment prong). The ring flash is useful up to about 3-5 meters away while lacking a power control that is effective on small distances where you may run into heavy risk of overexposure.

Another sore point is the battery, which is a far cry from 15 packs of film advertised and barely reaches the 16 images in case of use with a flash or thru Bluetooth. Finally, several users lament the poor ergonomics due to the viewfinder and position the shutter button, as well as the extreme sensitivity of the same: actually, once get used to cammnds position, the Impossible I-1 is handled quickly and accurately with one hand.

On this matter, it is advisable to consult the various videos on the Impossible youtube channel

Overexposure by flash at close range

Good sharpness and focus in 0.3 m

Good definition and exposure in the middle distance

TECHNICAL DATA

Model: automatic Flash camera

Format: Polaroid type 600 or compatible

Lens: 6 elements (five variables) plastic, 82-109 mm, f/8.6-60

Shutter: auto motor step,  30 ” to 1/250 sec, T

Exposure modes: automatic and manual (remote mode)

Viewfinder: Galilean with collimation index

Self-timer: remote mode, time delay up to 20 sec.

Flash: led ring (8 + 4)

Power supply: internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 500 mAh

Weight: 440 gr.

PRO

Autofocus

Wealth of features (remotely)

Tripod mount

Lightness

Design

AGAINST

Battery life

Shutter button sensitivity

Price

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the imperfections and defects which we said, Impossible I-1 is still a great camera especially for the large amount of creative possibilities that brings with it, many unheard of for those who used to date your old Polaroid 600 basic cameras. Unfortunately the price makes it a bit out of reach, especially when you consider that big expenses for films must be added to the 260-300 EUR you’ll spend fo the camera. The introduction of I-type films will reduce a bit the cost as well as some expected discount in camera value.

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