- Smartphone app adds shooting flexibility
- Attractive retro design
- Affordable camera
- Cost of film packs adds up
- Plastic build feels cheap
- Extra features useless without a phone to hand
- Review Price: £149.99
- Fully automatic operation
- Bluetooth LE for smartphone app control
- Can create double exposures
- Dedicated portrait lens
- Uses I-Type film packs
What is the Polaroid OneStep+?
The OneStep+ is the latest retro-inspired continuation camera from Polaroid Originals, modelled after one of the instant photography pioneer’s most famous creations.
When Polaroid decided to stop making instant film in 2008, the company (then called Impossible Project) bought the film-making equipment and set up shop restoring the brand name to its former glory. The OneStep+ is the next step of that plan.
It is the successor to last year’s OneStep 2, and borrows the same basic look and features – but then adds a selection of smartphone-enabled shooting modes, updating the instant camera for mobile snappers that want a bit more flexibility from their photography.
Despite the Bluetooth upgrade, this is still a camera designed for easy use. It has a fixed lens, few buttons and the extra modes offered by the app are entirely optional. It retails for £149, with eight-packs of film costing £15 each.
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Polaroid OneStep+ – Design and features
The OneStep+ is every bit the homage to Polaroid’s ’70s-era original, with chunky styling that’s full of retro charm.
The only modern additions are hidden towards the back, with LEDs on the top showing how many shots you have remaining, and a micro USB charging port on the rear. Otherwise, the few buttons and switches at the front are all delightfully mechanical.
That includes the lever at the top, which swaps between the 89mm and 103mm lenses; the former is for portraits and close-ups, with the latter used for everything else. A switch flicks open the film tray, too.
Film packs slot horizontally into the front of the camera, making the whole thing a lot boxier than its closest rivals, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 and Lomo’Instant Square. It’ll never fit in a pocket, but built-in hooks for a neck strap make it easy enough to carry.
Getting started is as simple as the camera itself. Pop open the tray, slide in a film pack (each one has clear directions so you don’t get them back to front) and close it up. The OneStep spits out the pack’s protective cover and then you’re good to go.
The square viewfinder gives a fairly close representation of what the lens captures, but with ultra-simple optics, you’ll often find your pics have more in the frame than you expected. The flash is on by default, and while you can turn it off, you’ll really only want to if you’re shooting in very bright sunshine.
As far as shooting ‘modes’ go, there’s just a slider to make your photos either darker or lighter. Until, that is, you pair the camera to your smartphone over Bluetooth. Polaroid’s Originals app adds a remote trigger, timer shooting, light painting and double exposure modes, as well as manual shooting.
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Polaroid OneStep+ – Performance and image quality
Instant cameras aren’t renowned for their clarity, and the OneStep+ doesn’t do much to improve that reputation. Expect your first pack of film to be a mix of fun moments and frustratingly under-exposed smudges as you get to grips with its limitations.
That’s true of the OneStep’s rivals, though – and they don’t have Bluetooth to unlock extra shooting modes. You can get really creative with the double exposure and light painting modes, and the remote trigger is rapid too. It even has a built-in scanner for digitising your snaps and sharing to social media.
It’s a shame the app’s onscreen button is a little on the small side, though. It’s easily missed when you’re looking at the viewfinder instead of your phone.
Focusing can be a bit hit-or-miss, too. The Portrait lens works best between one and two feet away, so you’ve got to be right in your friends’ faces to ensure a crisp snap. It’s frustrating to waste pictures when each pack costs £15 – that’s nearly £1.90 a print.
Polaroid’s I-Type film produces fairly colourful photos, albeit with stark contrast. Still, with enough light the results are charming. Get a snap right and you’ll have a physical memento of those spontaneous moments – which is exactly why instant film has so much appeal.
Why buy the Polaroid OneStep+?
There’s an undeniable charm about instant photography that the OneStep+ embodies so well. For special occasions, spur-of-the-moment snaps and making memories, it does everything you’d want in a simple, attractive package.
Of course, you’ll need to think about the cost of film. I-Type film will set you back £15 each for either a colour or black-and white pack, making each photo about twice the price of Fuji’s Instax Square.
While it might be more expensive than its rivals, the Bluetooth additions make it a lot more flexible, too. A £30 premium doesn’t seem all that much if you’ll be using those modes a lot, but if you don’t need them, the regular, non-connected OneStep 2 is also available.
Probably the most versatile instant camera out there right now. Picture quality might be mixed and film isn’t the cheapest, but the app makes the OneStep+ great fun to use and it looks the part as well.
Polaroid OneStep+ – The Rivals
The least expensive path to Leica ownership, the Leica Sofort is a simple-to-use point-and-shoot instant camera with a classic look and that all-important red dot on the front to let everyone know you own one of the camera world’s most respected brands. Mini paper format prints are on the small side, though.
Fuji Instax Square SQ6
One of the first of its kind to use larger Instax Square film, this compact point-and-shoot is a more grown-up camera than the rest of Fuji’s range. The Fuji Instax Square SQ6‘s lens is fixed and the shooting modes are basic, but packs of film are more affordable and the camera is reasonably priced, too.
|Dimensions Width (Millimeter)||150|
|Weight (body only) (Kilogram)||493g|