Watch the Impossible Instant Lab Turn an iPhone Portrait into a Polaroid Picture

At The Impossible Project’s booth at Photokina 2012, there was a Impossible Instant Lab camera printer/camera being demonstrated. This is the device that was announced a couple of weeks ago that lets you quickly turn your iPhone photos into Polaroid pictures (i.e. Impossible’s instant film or whatever stock you have left).

A woman at the booth was showing how the device works. This video shows the entire process, from snapping a picture of a guy to holding the finished instant photo:

So, what are my impressions?

It’s a pretty interesting gizmo. Much of the grunt work is done through the phone app and manually, greatly simplifying the device itself. It’s basically a dark box that beams the image above onto a sheet of film below through a small lens… like a mini-enlarger, or something.

How long the “exposure” is done for is set in the app. Once you start the app, you need to quickly place it in the holder and pull away the dark slide before the beeping ends and exposure begins. The exposure is simply the iPhone flashing the image onto the screen for the amount of time you selected. You know when this happens because you’ll hear a shutter sound and see the flash on the backside of your iPhone go off.

The whole process is quite simple, easy to do, and fast.

The quality of the resulting photos is quite nice, not in terms of sharpness, or contrast, or things like that, but because you can’t tell that it was a digital-to-analog conversion. Even if you peer closely at it, there aren’t any signs that the photo was made using a picture on an iPhone screen.

It looks just like a vintage Polaroid picture, so if that’s the look desire, you should be pretty happy with the results.

As we reported at the time of the announcement, the basic unit will cost $150 when it starts shipping in February 2013. You’ll also need to buy regular Impossible instant film, so these conversions aren’t exactly cheap. It’s a fun concept though, and very well executed.

  • Paulo

    wow fa caa’

  • Joseph Campanella

    Cool. The picture looks dumb.

  • mrBlaQ

    How could you say that looks ”
    just like a vintage Polaroid picture” when it certainly looks much worse. GET A REAL POLAROID. HAVE FUN LIVING LIFE INSTEAD OF EDITING IT.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Why bother with analog film if you can’t even reap any of the benefits associated with it? If you’re really into doing instant prints, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to simply use a regular point and shoot camera and a portable printer? I dunno about the other brands, but Canon’s Selphy printers could probably fit into a bag of reasonable size.

  • Ricky Green

    Just think if Kodak had invented this. They would be rich right now

  • Mansgame


  • Pattymac100

    The only thing about that that looks like a polaroid is the paper. The print is horrible. I was excited about this gadget, but now, not so much

  • Samcornwell

    It’s a bit more expensive on the Kickstarter page, and on top of that the girl giving the demo told me it would be $229, not $150. I’m not a very big fan of the Impossible Project, they’ve always seemed very up themselves and ULTRA profit motivated.

  • David James Krugman

    Not impressed, I’d rather get the new instant polaroid camera for about half the price.

  • Rafael Ricoy

    Impossible Project is not Polaroid, it seems they buy some factories but not the chemical formulas, I never saw blue Polaroid Film before, and never with this extremely poor results. Besides they put eight prints on each cartridge instead the ten Polaroid used to put.

  • Phil

    Polaroid did make a blue film. It was called PolaBlue.

  • Phil

    The problem with the Selphy printers is that they’re not portable unless you add the battery module (which costs as much as — or in some cases more than — the printer itself). The Polaroid PoGo is much better in this regard (in that the battery comes with the printer) but the print quality isn’t quite as nice.

    Horses for courses, really.

    Impossible are doing something which Polaroid themselves did before – look up the “Digital Palette” series of film recorders (the CI-3000, CI-5000, HR-6000 and ProPalette 7000 and 8000). These could have a 35mm or Polaroid “integral” or peel-apart film back installed, thus allowing you to print images (up to 4096 pixels across) onto Polaroid film.

  • Graham Case

    While I agree that the results from Impossible are less desirable than true Polaroid, they are starting from scratch. No, they do not have the Polaroid chemistry formulas: they couldn’t get them (they were sold off to someone else, or otherwise lost) and they are trying to make a more (even if only slightly) more environmentally friendly process. Also, Polaroid did originally put 8 prints in each package, until they became more economically viable and could better afford to put ten prints in.

    I applaud their efforts, even if I see that they have a way to go with it.

  • Eric DiFebbo

    By far the dumbest idea I have ever seen. Go buy a real one for dirt cheap and get a film pack. Done!

  • twelvestrings

    maybe two out of the 8 will “develop” right…. if know what i mean,..