Polaroid PIC-300 Review

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Retro and vintage tech is in this season. It’s not just adults that are pining for a trip to the past, it’s kids too. Polaroid has a product that harkens back to the old days of instant film cameras with the PIC-300. The film quality had a grainy look that has become a popular filter option on smartphone camera apps.

The Polaroid PIC-300 is a joy to use, and offers a permanent keepsake you can enjoy the instant you take it. But shutterbugs will have to monitor their use, as the price tag that comes with purchasing film for this camera is quite high.

using polaroid camera

Design and Handling

The Polaroid 300 doesn’t look as retro as its photos—it’s nothing like the vintage look of Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90. Instead Polaroid went for a quirky bubbly design with bulging curves and cartoon color options (save for black). You can’t help but crack a smile when you look at it.

Polaroid back with photos

Its plastic shell doesn’t feel chintzy—it’s built like a brick, which makes it feel quite weighty in-hand (and like it could withstand a few drops). The weight of the camera never felt cumbersome—it’s about the same heft as a DSLR or larger point-and-shoot, like the Nikon Coolpix L330. These extra pounds added stability when snapping pictures with my friends or hiking outdoors. However, Polaroid’s attempt to design a grip made the camera quite awkward to hold—users won’t be able to comfortably wrap their fingers around it. Not to mention, the positioning of the shutter button directly below the view finder caused my finger to get in the way of lining up shots.

The operation of the camera is quite straightforward. Extend the lens to turn it on, wait about 15 seconds for it to boot up, and select a mode from the dial at the top. Users will be able to choose from four options on the wheel, which set the level of the flash and aperture. These modes are tailored for indoors, cloudy, fine, and clear situations.

Film

Users will have to purchase film separately from the camera, which come in packs of 10. The film is ISO 800 (meaning it can handle low-lighting and fast movement) and produces a glossy-finish, 2.1 by 3.4-inch sized photos, which will be small enough tuck into your wallet or clutch.

polaroid pictures

The Polaroid 300 holds about 10 pieces of film at a time, so shutterbugs will want to reel-in their snap-happy tendencies. Film cartridges are easy to reload, but when the price per shot is $1.5 you may start to feel a warmth coming from your wallet as your money burns away. There’s a counter at the bottom of the camera that will help you keep tabs in case you start to get carried away. But it can be said that during my time using the camera, it made me value each shot that much more and I took care to choose my moments carefully.

Performance

Despite the price the Polaroid PIC-300 is fun to use, clicking the shutter button and having a picture develop before your eyes has a kind of wonder to it that also feeds a need for instant gratification. The image quality was good and the film’s 2.1 by 3.4-inch size helped hide any flaws. The Polaroid 300 shined in dim light indoors and on cloudy days outside. In bright light, however, some shot seemed a bit over-exposed. There’s a signature look in these Polaroid photos that adds a cool factor when you know they can’t be cropped or touched-up. Each one has a desaturated look with a dark halo that bleeds-out from the frame’s edges.

Though, there’s an instinct for people to play with technology, and you lose out on that when you have to pay for each photo. There was a want to experiment with lighting and setting—how each dial affected different shot. Sometimes pictures were way too dark, which resulted in a waste of film. This may lead people to purchase something more in-line with Polaroid’s Z2300 camera, which comes with a preview screen—blending old-school with digital. You lose-out on the excitement each new photo brings, but your wallet may thank you.

The camera takes about 5 seconds in between shots and 15 seconds to boot up, which doesn’t exactly make it good for action shots. Stills, outdoor scenery, and selfies will be prime targets for this camera.

Battery life has been quite good. The camera comes with four AA batteries, and after a week of testing, shooting through 20 pieces of film, and leaving it on (accidentally) for an entire afternoon, I’ve yet to change out the batteries.

Bottom Line

Yes, the cost to keep your Polaroid PIC-300 stocked with film is quite pricey for the average user. But it may be worth the investment if you can appreciate the nostalgia such a camera can bring. Physical keepsakes from a day of holiday celebration makes it a great device to pull out at special events. Not to mention it’s fun to use. You’ll have to weigh if the price for a trip down memory lane is worth the investment.

 

Editors note: *We do not carry Polaroid PIC-300 anymore – check out Polaroid Z2300 instead*

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Natalie Shoemaker

Natalie found her passion for writing about tech when she started with PCMag. She has also written for Geek, GDGT and TechnologyTell.

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