Hearing the name Polaroid most would think of the small square instantly printed snapshots the brand is famous for. Unknown to most however, they have recently been developing a range of action cameras aimed for use in everyday life and care-free situations to log those special moments instantly and effortlessly. True, we now have smart phones capable of doing exactly that in both high resolution photos and videos, but with such high values for brands like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, the risk of damage or loss comes at a high cost and this is where the new Polaroid models come in.
Although not quite as resilient as a GoPro or as high quality as many digital cameras on the market, their low costs and simple, lightweight designs take away the worry of losing other precious gadgets while documenting every moment. We tried two quite different but highly functional models, the Polaroid Cube and the Polaroid IE-090. The first is designed mainly for the concept of ‘life logging’ rather than action, the cube is small and simple enough for every member of the family to use and also light and resilient for use everyday in all weathers. The second is a little more rugged, and is described as an affordable waterproof camera for outdoors people.
We have made quite a photographic transition during our time as travel bloggers, beginning with cheap, low-quality digital cameras that are complicated to use, then experimenting with GoPro’s during our adventures (the first of which tragically drowned in a snorkelling accident) and now relying on the iPhone for quick everyday shots and a high quality Nikon SLR for more careful, precise, artistic shots. With all of our experiences in mind it’s clear to see that there’s a place in the market for a camera offering simple but effective functions that is versatile, highly portable and easily replaceable for use in unpredictable situations. Here’s what we think are the top ten reasons why adventure travellers like us should take advantage of the new Polaroid range!
Polaroid Cube: this is priced at just around $100 to $150, so there is no need to feel precious about keeping the cube permanently in your hand, finger poised ready to snap each moment. If only this had been on the market before we replaced our lost GoPro at a cost of several hundred dollars!
Polaroid IE-090: at an even cheaper price of $80, this really fits the bill for an all-weathers outdoor camera, in Polaroid’s words ‘Let’s face it: no one wants to take a pricey camera to the beach, swimming pool, family picnic, campground or on any other summer outings where water, sand, food, spilled drinks and all manner of other indignities lurk at every turn’
Polaroid Cube: the rubberised outer of the cube is weatherproof enough for use in light rain and situations with risk of water splashes although we wouldn’t recommend submerging it! The cover shuts very firmly, only opening with a coin, and has such a tight seal that you can rest assured it won’t fall open. This is a great relief having had many close shaves with the fastenings of our GoPro coming loose.
Polaroid IE-090: the more rugged option of the two, this is advertised as dustproof, shockproof, waterproof and even footproof (although we’re not entirely sure what that means!) while we wouldn’t make an effort to throw it around we felt confident it could withstand heavy use and little care, while the waterproof element means even a heavy rain shower won’t deter us from documenting our adventure.
Polaroid Cube: intended to be used by all members of the family with very little thought and preparation required to take shots of all sorts of everyday occurrences, the cube suits its purpose very well. It’s only features are the 124 degree wide-angle lens on the front and a microphone, just one button on the top serving as power, shutter and video record button all in one. Finally an LED indicator shows green for standby, red for recording or photographing, or orange for either low battery, connection to computer or ejected memory card. Really it has all the ease of use that a GoPro has but is much smaller, more versatile and considerably cheaper.
Polaroid IE-090: the dual-screen capabilities allow you to shoot photos forwards or backwards whichever way round the camera is facing. If the cube doesn’t quite meet your resolution and durability needs and you don’t want to splash out on a GoPro, the IE-090 is a very good go between while still being extremely straightforward and natural to use.
4. Perfect Size for any adventure activities
Polaroid Cube: exactly as described in the name, the cube measures just 1.4 inches on all sides and as a result weighs almost nothing. I personally found it easy and convenient to keep in my hand at all times or in a pocket if necessary, decreasing the risk of losing it as you won’t feel the need to put it down or keep packing it away in a bag as we do with the GoPro.
Polaroid IE-090: although it can’t quite compete with the cube for compactness, with dimensions of 6cm x 8.5cm x 2.7cm and a weight of 140grams you will never question throwing this in your bag, it also comes with a sturdy wrist strap for a little extra security.
Polaroid Cube: unlike the GoPro which we used mainly for action shots or videos while moving, the cube is a really great, easy gadget to capture all kinds of moments quickly and spontaneously.
Polaroid IE-090: being of such a sturdy design, we never think twice about packing this camera so it’s always at hand if we’re caught without our Nikon SLR. Whether wandering around a city, with friends or family or exploring nature (all situations where we’d usually fall back on the iPhone) now we know the Polaroid IE-090 can adapt to the occasion.
6. Good Resolution
Polaroid Cube: The Polaroid Cube takes 6-megapixel photos which, although doesn’t compare to a professional camera, captures those unexpected moments in a flash and also retains clarity.
Polaroid IE-090: this is unarguably the better option for resolution with 18 megapixels, a 4 x digital zoom, built-in flash and a 1.8 inch front display to take all-important selfies.
7. Waterproof Feature – Perfect for Underwater Activities
Polaroid Cube: as we said this is not suitable for submersion but if you do want to take underwater photos you can buy the Polaroid Cube underwater case for $25 which doesn’t add too much bulk to the already minuscule camera and retains the same ease of attachment.
Polaroid IE-090: this is where the underwater opportunities are really explored to the full, this camera can be used as deep as three metres with no need for an extra protective case!
This also means it will be very easy to wash if it becomes dirty after any outdoor excursions.
Polaroid Cube: designed with a strong, magnetic underside meaning you can attach it easily to anything that has a metal surface. Being so light also helps it to stay attached. For us this once the key important differences between the GoPro and the cube, having missed so many photo opportunities screwing on different attachments to the GoPro as well as having to replace them time and time again when plastic pieces snap.
Polaroid IE-090: doesn’t feature a mount as such, but is easily gripped to be at hand throughout all activities. What we really liked about this compared to the GoPro was its easy grip and how it fits in your hand ergonomically, meaning no need for any handles that are bulky, heavy and fiddly to attach.
9. Adventure video making
Polaroid Cube: videos can be shot with the the Polaroid Cube either in Full HD 1080p or 720p, impressive clarity which, when combined with the wide angle lens and microphone, results in perfectly captured videos of those unforgettable experiences found on the road.
Polaroid IE-090: this also offers a high resolution VGA and QVGA video recording with sound, an unsurprising feature of this great all-rounder that also comes with an 8 GB Micro SD card included.
10. Cool Design for an Adventurer
Polaroid Cube: we loved the simple design of this little camera, it’s available in red, blue and black with the classic Polaroid multicolour stripe along the side.
Polaroid IE-090: still a nice size camera to carry effortlessly, it has two displays one larger on the back at 2.7” and a smaller on the front at 1.8”. The rubber grip panels are a clean, simple and useful addition available in all the primary colours to contrast with the black body.