Andy Westlake tests Polaroid’s latest instant camera that can be controlled remotely from a smartphone
LOOKING like it’s been teleported straight out of the 1970s, the Polaroid OneStep+ is an unashamedly retro-styled instant camera. It’s a development of the OneStep 2, adding Bluetooth for remote control from your phone for a £30 premium. It also gains an upgraded lens with two manually switchable focus positions – 0.6m to infinity for the standard lens, and 0.3m to 0.9m for the ‘portrait’ lens.
Other than that, it’s an extremely basic camera with barely any controls: simply turn it on and press the front-mounted shutter button. The flash will fire, gears will whirr, and your photo will be spat out the front, covered by a retracting plastic ‘tongue’ to prevent it being bleached by the light before it’s even developed. A slider beneath the viewfinder makes prints lighter or darker, while a button on the back disables the flash. That’s your lot.
What sets this model apart, though, is the ability to control it remotely from a smartphone. The beautifully designed Polaroid Originals app includes a simple remote shutter release; a self-timer that can be set from 1 to 12 seconds; a double exposure mode; a light painting mode that’s essentially a bulb setting; and a noise trigger with a customisable threshold. Finally, there’s a metered manual mode that lets you choose the shutter speed and aperture, turn the flash on and off, and decide when to eject the film. This allows free experimentation with slow speeds (up to 30sec) or multiple exposures.
On paper, the OneStep+ should be the best instant camera money can buy. The hardware maintains the simplistic charm of classic Polaroid cameras, but the addition of fully manual control from your smartphone promises a whole extra level of creativity.
It has some serious problems, though. The viewfinder is ridiculously approximate – don’t expect to get anything close to a considered composition. The colour film gives a muddy, faded look that might charitably be considered ‘arty’, but which ultimately just isn’t as attractive as Fujifilm Instax film. The mono version looks much nicer, but the test pack I shot failed to develop any image over large tracts of the prints. Whether this counts as charmingly quirky or plain defective depends wholly on your point of view.
If you’re prepared to embrace the unpredictability of Polaroid Originals film, and like the idea of manual control, the OneStep+ is worth considering. However, if you’re after an instant camera that will consistently deliver good-looking prints, then the Fujifilm Instax SQ6 would be a better choice for less money.