How Camera Makers Are Blending Old and New Tech

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Key Takeaways

  • Camera makers are mixing high-tech features like Bluetooth with classic instant cameras. 
  • The new Polaroid Now+ is an analog camera with Bluetooth connectivity and five physical lens filters.
  • Film cameras have advantages over digital snappers, some advocates contend.
The Polaroid Now+ Camera and filters with the app showing on a smartphone.

Polaroid

New cameras that combine old-fashioned prints with modern features like Bluetooth offer the best of both worlds. 

The new Polaroid Now+ is an analog camera with Bluetooth connectivity and five physical lens filters. The filters can be clipped onto the camera's lens to change your photos’ contrast or add new effects. The rise of these hybrid cameras is fueling the debate over whether digital or film cameras are superior. 

"Film gives the photographer a 'classic' look," Paul J. Joseph, a professor of mass communications at Methodist University in North Carolina, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

"It’s just a little hazy.  A comparable digital image would be ultra-clean, with pixels instead of grain." 

Not Your Grandfather’s Polaroid

Polaroid is adding to its line-up of products that mix retro looks with modern smarts. The new $150 Polaroid Now+ is an updated version of last year's Polaroid Now. The company has added a blue-gray color to the standard white or black models. It has also removed the iconic Polaroid rainbow-colored strip on the blue-gray model. 

The Polaroid Now+ also has integrated the camera’s light sensor into the lens stage to allow the different filters to fit. The Polaroid boasts autofocus, dynamic flash, and self-timer functions, and the latest model now comes with a tripod mount.

Software improvements also give the Polaroid Now+ a boost. The Polaroid app has a new, streamlined design with extra features, including aperture priority and tripod mode. The software gives you more control over the depth of field and long exposures. You also can swipe between light painting, double exposure, and manual mode.

Most film cameras that have Bluetooth capabilities fall into the instant camera niche, June Esclada, a graphic designer and film photography enthusiast, told Lifewire in an email interview. These types of cameras let you take quick pictures and watch them develop right before your eyes. 

"My recommended instant cameras with Bluetooth capability are the Polaroid OneStep+ and the Canon IVY CLIQ+," Esclada said. "These will give you Bluetooth connectivity to help adjust the camera’s settings for unique and creative shots that are more under your control."

The IVY CLIQ+ 9s is an instant camera combined with a tiny printer that creates 2-inch x 3-inch and 2-inch x 2-inch peel-and-stick prints that are smudge-proof, tear- and water-resistant.

Film vs Digital

Film cameras have advantages over digital snappers, some advocates contend. 

"First, they have a higher dynamic range which allows you to capture more detail," Esclada said. "In basic terms, this makes a film photo look better and more authentic than a digital photo."

If you want to go totally old school, consider a film camera without modern bells and whistles. Esclada recommends the Nikon F2

The Polaroid Now+ lens filters.

Polaroid

"This classic camera is well-built, easy to use, and will allow you to learn the basics of film photography while capturing great shots," she added. 

The average user would find the 35mm SLR the best overall camera, Joseph said. 

"I would recommend one with a simple light metering system that is easy to understand," he added. "My favorite such camera would be the Nikon FE2 or FM2.  This gives you exposure through the lens while allowing you to focus easily. There is also a great assortment of lenses available."

Film cameras also have a wide range of automatic exposure settings and detailing, resulting in higher resolution of images, Sarang Padhye, a filmmaking blogger, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

"It is an inexpensive device that can be used to capture retro and real images," Padhye added. 

But digital cameras have overtaken their film counterparts for a reason, some observers say. 

"It used to be that the main advantage of a film camera was that it generated a pure image that usually could outperform digital processes," Joseph said. "Not true anymore.  Modern digital cameras are just as accurate, have as good or greater resolution, and everything a photographer could dream of."

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