Instant Memories
NXT |September 2019
Why do we love instant cameras and portable photo printers?

NXT welcomes cover girl Sally back to NXT, and tells us what she’s been up since the last time she appeared in NXT!

Apart from event modelling I’ve been doing creative design, and I can design anything, except buildings of course. So doing the NXT design shouldn’t be a problem as I’ve designed flyers and brochures for a number of consumer technology brands. That also extends to my event modelling - I’ve worked with a lot of technology brands so I’m quite familiar with speakers, laptops, smartphones and headphones.

I have a few cameras at home but I’m not really good enough to be a photographer, but I like to snap photographs of my friends and stuff. I like how nice and cute these retro instant cameras look and I’ve actually been thinking of buying one, so this NXT photoshoot suits me as I get to play with all these different cameras! I’ve actually tried the LG Photo Snap before so I’m familiar with Zink printing technology and I own an older Fujifilm Instax mini. Comparing a Zink photo with an instax photo I like the ‘film’ quality of the instax better and find the Zink looks a little pixelated.

From my experience with my Instax I think it’s okay because it’s convenient to take on a holiday, though I actually have taken three cameras with me, like my Panasonic Lumix compact camera and my Fujifilm Instax and the Casio TR-80 selfie camera - I got that a few years ago because it came with beauty editing, but because smartphones now have all those beauty apps I find carrying it quite redundant. With the Snow app on a smartphone I can adjust my features, touch-up my makeup and add filters. That’s one thing I found lacking with my older Instax - its a very basic analog camera and you simply don’t know until you see the photo if you’ve taken a good picture! For my Instagram photos I actually use my compact camera and then do my own post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop!

THE RETURN OF THE INSTANT CAMERA

It’s a common held belief that just as the era of digital cameras lead to the end of consumer film cameras, so will the era of the smartphone with integrated camera lead to the gradual decline of the global digital camera market, which has shrunk by approximately 80% in the last decade.

Yet here we are in 2019 writing about the rising popularity of actual film cameras! Specifically the revival of instant cameras that we all thought would go extinct by around 2010. In the last few years this specific camera type has actually seen very strong growth, which Fujifilm, now the dominant brand in the instant camera market, increasing sales by 100% since 2015 and selling 10 million units of their popular instax brand in 2018.

So what happened? Fujifilm’s own internal documents record the company’s concern in the face of rapidly dropping instax sales back in 2008, a year that was marked by the exit of Polaroid from the instant film and camera business, yet they also soon noticed a resurgence of instax usage, not amongst Generation X who would be the most familiar with instant cameras from their heyday in the late 1970s, but from Millennials seeking a new form of uniqueness and self expression away from the now conventional smartphone image. This trend towards creative expression lead to an increased popularity of instant film cameras (and film cameras) across the world, and it was around this time that Lomography began to gain popularity and the Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals) was founded as a new producer of Polaroid compatible films.

As you read this article further and check out the instant cameras now available, you’ll notice that they seem to share a common design theme - that these cameras were designed to have a strong appeal to female users as they’ve become not only fashionable but trendy.

INSTANT FILM CAMERAS

The instant camera has always been associated with the American Polaroid company with the first Polaroid instant camera introduced in 1947 using a process whereby a film sandwich comprising of a negative and photo paper is exposed to chemicals to develop a photo print that had to be manually peeled from the negative - basically combining an entire darkroom photo development process into one camera. The system was eventually refined to a small single cartridge that was easy to load and replace, and more importantly the colour film now developed in

HYBRID INSTANT THEORY

With the use of Zink technology a small photo printer can be made that’s light portable and only requires power and paper, and it was only a matter of time before Zink-based instant cameras started appearing, first as standalone devices that you could use by itself then as devices that you could sync to smartphones to print your smartphone images and with apps that expanded photo editing.

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