Friday, January 11, 2013

Life Of The Party

Who can forget the Polaroid? Seemingly, nobody! Lots of people want 'em back now. The classic SX-70 camera is once again available, for quite a bit of green, and demand for the film, once Polaroid stopped production, became a business case for the Impossible Project, who have reverse engineered the film and are putting it back on the market. Fujifilm are also on the bandwagon, with their pocket sized Instax cameras and instant film. Am I interested? Strangely no. I'm a "retro-man" in so many ways, but Polaroid never really grabbed me. I remember when I was a kid, I had a friend who loved his Polaroid, and of course liked to go about taking cheesy pictures of all the kids around the block, all the while I was cutting my teeth on a Kodak Instamatic, which took the "new" 126 film cartridges. I'm not sure that his Polaroid made him any more popular, but that was the whole idea wasn't it? It was supposedly great fun to take pictures of your friends and watch them develop before your eyes, then letting your friends have their pictures right there on the spot. With the great resurgence of instant film photography, I guess that idea never died, so it seems.

I'm here to tell you, if you aren't aware already, that you don't have to have a Polaroid, or even a Fuji Instax, to pull this off. All you need might be the camera you've already got, if it has Pict-Bridge capability, and a small Pict-Bridge compatible printer. One such printer is the Canon Selphy. There have been several models of Selphy marketed by Canon over the past few years. They are small, battery powered, Pict-Bridge compatible and connect directly to your camera via a standard USB cord. These printers use a thermal "Dye Sublimation" process- they're not Ink jet. You have to buy packs of special paper, combined with a colour ribbon cartridge, which combined, make the cost out to about 40 cents per 4X6" print. Expensive compared to inkjet, but cheaper, and of far better image quality than Polaroid film ever was (is). If you want to be the creepy guy with the camera turned life of the party, you should get yourself one of these. I use it, not at parties, but for most of my in-house photo printing, because the thermal print quality can't be beat, although limited to the 4"X6" size, it's great for having professional looking prints available to show off my portfolio.

But the possibilities of combining a Selphy with a camera that will perform "in-camera RAW file processing" are tremendous if you find yourself in a place (like a party maybe?) where you need prints, but don't have your computer with Photoshop along with you. My DSLR (the Canon EOS 7D) has the in-camera RAW capability, and can connect to the Selphy - no computer required. The two units combined - camera and printer are about the same size and weight as an original Polaroid Land Camera, but for 40 cents a print and far far superior quality, I can crank out magnificent prints that are "custom converted" from RAW, right on the spot. If a person wants a print of themselves in B&W, I can do that conversion right in the camera, then print them out a perfect 4X6 with a proven shelf life of 100 years, and ask them for their 40 cents, please.

Eat my shorts Polaroid! Move over, because Canon has had this sewn up for years!

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