Over at Wired, Medea Giordano has brought her insightful eye as a photographer and a writer to the new Polaroid 600 Barbie Throwback camera, a retro take on the classic camera with all the Barbie flourishes you'd expect. But according to Giordano, the seemingly-novelty nature of the camera is tertiary to the fact that … it actually might be the best Polaroid alternative available right now, or at least, the least shitty thing that still connects most closely with our nostalgic memories of what a true Polaroid camera should be.
The new Polaroid 600 Barbie Throwback camera ($149) doesn't just look like an old Polaroid. It kinda is one. The camera's internals are made from original Polaroid electronics that have been refurbished and tested by Retrospekt, a vintage-product restoration company, housed in a new plastic exterior that is just slightly updated from the ‘99 version. No batteries are needed, as they’re built into each film pack. (It takes an eight-pack of 600 film in color or black and white.) Unlike some of the other instant cameras released today, it produces the full-size photos you’ll remember from yesteryear.
The new Polaroid—formerly known as Polaroid Originals and the Impossible Project—has had trouble with its film quality since it first released its instant film in 2010. We noted the improvements in film quality back in 2017, but as Gear writer Scott Gilbertson wrote in March, newer Polaroid film is still sometimes plagued by grainy areas or spots that don't look fully developed. I didn't find any of that in the packs of film I tried, but I did get occasional noise, though that's kind of the draw to instant cameras for me. I long for the days when photos just captured a moment and didn't look as posed and perfected as what you see on Instagram every day. That’s what you get here.
Like her touching piece on the original Coyote Ugly Saloon from a few years ago, Giordano's reporting has left me thinking about a Barbie camera in a different way. Now excuse me while I try to find one of these things for less than $150.
How a Barbie Polaroid Camera Is Helping Me Shelter in Place [Medea Giordano / Wired]
Image: Phillip Pessar / Flickr [CC 2.0]