A First Weekend Review of the Impossible I-1


News, Photography / Monday, May 16th, 2016

Impossible I-1

I ordered my I-1 on May 9, 2016 and received it on May 13, 2016. the packaging was phenomenal and some have debated whether the fancy packaging further affirms their position that the price point for the camera is just too high at $300. It is an expensive camera for technology that has been repackaged into an artful, modern and minimalist design but maintaining instant photography in the the post-Polaroid era isn’t cheap and Impossible Project is using this camera to bolster revenues and spread the cost of film research and development over some additional product offerings.

These are my first impressions after shooting two packs of I-Type color film and a few shots of the I-Type black and white film.

The camera itself takes some getting used to. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the design but it is artful and unique. It’s also much smaller than other 600 film cameras but not as slim as the folding SX-70 cameras since it doesn’t collapse. I don’t like the viewfinder and wish it was more of an SLR camera that offered focusing through the lens as opposed to the mechanical, magnet mounted viewfinder that sits on top of the camera. This creates some parallax issues when focusing at close distances and takes some getting used to to guarantee a sharp image.

I also have issues with the battery. One of the Impossible Recommendations states that a charge should last for 20 packs of film but in my experience, the 500 mAH high performance lithium ion battery is only good for getting through one pack of film before you have issues with the flash not being available. This is a hug issue. Impossible recommends that you charge the battery before every shoot but this kills any spontaneity you might need between film packs and puts you a risk of not being able to shoot in less than bright and sunny conditions where the flash may not be available due to low battery power.

The I-Type color film was problematic for me. I got four decent pictures after using two packs of film. I shot with the camera on automatic and with the camera mounted on a tripod using both the remote timer and manual exposure settings. Many of my initial shots were overexposed and those that came out ok were not as clear and sharp as I expected. The I-type black and white film was a very different experience as two of my three shots were outstanding with the one bad shot due to the flash not being available because the camera needed to be recharged after using a film pack.

It’s still early and I’m hoping that things improve. I’ll continue to shoot the I-Type black and white and it looks very promising. I’ll also use some of my 600 film and see what that looks like. If I find out that the I-Type color just isn’t quite ready, that won’t be the end of the world. Right now, I’m still trying to decide if the I-Type is heir to the Polaroid legacy and I’m optimistic that the I-1 will find a welcome home in my collection of instant cameras.

3 Replies to “A First Weekend Review of the Impossible I-1”

    1. I’m still a bit torn. I enjoy using my SX-70s a lot more–the through the lens viewfinder is preferred and I hate the standby battery life which means I need to charge the camera immediately before taking it to shoot which kills any spontaneity. It’s a great portrait shooter and I’m still getting used to other non-portrait uses like street photography and still life that I enjoy shooting. Impossible really needs to work on the battery as I just don’t use it as much since it’s never ready when I decide to use it. I get the point about eliminating batteries in film cartridges for both evnvironmental and cost reasons, but give us better battery life in the camera.

      1. After having mine for about 4 weeks, and using approx 5 packs of film, I can’t agree more. The battery life frankly is terrible. I know a lot of work went into making this camera, no doubt. I love the design, iOS functionality, and general image quality (which is OK, no worse or better than my old Polaroid which model I’ve long forgotten if I ever knew it).

        Hopefully a firmware update can correct this. I seem to recall seeing this hinted at on Impossible’s FB page. We’ll see. If not, it’s going to be a $300 flop. I can power off any other device, and have the battery be essentially full upon power on. This thing drains from full to empty within 20 hours WITHOUT EVEN TURNING IT ON. Completely unacceptable.

        The viewfinder has now become a challenge, too. The first few packs I shot I didn’t for whatever reason have a problem with heads being cut off. The shots from last two packs have come with heads being chopped off in all processed photos. Have no idea why. Obviously, thats a user error (I assume) but I can’t think of anything I did differently.

        Holding out hope for what I presume should be a basic firmware fix.

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