Custom Polaroid Land Camera Delivers Instant Photos Over the Web

Instant Polaroid frame

Max van Leeuwen built a Polaroid instant camera that can remotely “develop” its photos on a picture frame, no matter where in the world the camera and frame are.

As seen on Hackaday, van Leeuwen’s fancy Polaroid camera is based on his grandfather’s broken Polaroid Land Camera. While the camera no longer takes “real” Polaroid photos, van Leeuwen modified it to capture images again.

By integrating a Raspberry Pi and a camera module into the camera body, the Polaroid Land Camera can once again take photos. However, that does not capture the spirit of the original Polaroid camera, which enamored people with its instant film prints.

To realize that idea in digital form, instead of seeing digital images on a modified display on the reinvigorated Polaroid camera, it connects to a remote picture frame over Wi-Fi, instantly displaying the most recent image captured by the Raspberry Pi Polaroid camera.

When an image is captured using the Raspberry Pi camera module, it is sent over the internet to the picture frame, which has its own Raspberry Pi and an e-ink display installed.

At no point in the process is the digital image saved permanently, which channels a bit of the impermanence of an instant print, which, while permanent in theory, only exists once as that single print. Once an image is sent to the connected frame, it is deleted from the camera. Once another picture is taken and sent to the frame, the prior image is replaced on the e-ink display and deleted.

“The picture is never saved, so the photo is gone when you take a new one,” van Leeuwen explains.

In the video above, the “developing” process of the custom instant camera is shown in all its glory. E-ink displays are not known for their speedy refresh rates. Further, the e-ink display mimics paper, which is why it is a popular choice for e-readers, which captures a bit of the charm and appearance of an instant film print.

Van Leeuwen has put the frame inside his grandmother’s house so that she can keep up with her grandson’s latest adventures. Whenever he snaps a new photo, it appears inside the frame within a minute or two.

More of Max van Leeuwen’s excellent projects are detailed on his website. He can also be followed on YouTube and Instagram.