I've tried the Polaroid I-2 – it's the best instant camera on the market

The Polaroid I-2 is the ultimate pro-grade instant film camera – but you'll have to pay up for the privilege

The Polaroid I-2 camera on a wooden table
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

If, like me, you enjoy a little technological detox every now and then, picking up one of the best instant cameras is a great place to start. They utilise technologies which now feel like they're from another world altogether, removing the digitalisation and getting back to the rawest form of taking photos.

As T3's resident hipster, I'm fairly well versed in all things film and camera-y. I've owned a whole host of different instant cameras over the years – most recently the Instax SQ40 – and even descended the slippery slope into 35mm SLRs and medium format film.

On the back of all of that experience, I'm here to tell you about the Polaroid I-2. It's a new instant film camera from the iconic brand – and it is, without question, the best instant camera you can buy right now.

It takes a different approach from other instant cameras on the market right out of the gate. See, most of the current crop are pretty much just point and shoot devices. There's not a whole heap for the user to take control over, in a bid to influence the outcome of their composition.

The Polaroid I-2 camera on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Polaroid has taken a refreshingly different approach, here. This is a fully manual camera, aside from focusing, which is all automatic. The three-element lens was designed from the ground up with the help of a team of engineers who used to work on Olympus cameras back in the 80s. That's a pretty good credential to have, FYI.

That's paired up with a LIDAR rangefinder, for accuracy in the auto-focus. Users can also select between a handful of different modes, for different shooting styles. You'll get fully automatic, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, self-timer and multi-exposure modes.

All of that is accessible via a slim screen on the right hand side of the lens. It's the only digital part of the camera on show, and is tastefully executed, bringing useful functionality without forcing you to menu dive excessively.

The Polaroid I-2 camera on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

The internal battery should be good for around 15 packs of film, and is rechargeable with a USB-C cable. Plus, you can connect via Bluetooth to an Android phone or an iPhone to enjoy OTA software updates. Those should be good for around five years, according to the chairman of the board for the brand.

The app also allows users to remotely control the camera. That's really handy for when you have a camera setup and don't want to touch it and possibly ruin the perfect composition.

Okay, so all of that sounds really good, but what's it actually like to use? Well, having spent a little time with it before the launch, I can tell you that it is really simple. See, for all I can wax on about SLRs and other film related things, I'm no pro photographer. I have some knowledge on the topic – more than your average Joe, say – but I still want something to be easy to use.

But even I was able to get some pretty decent images out of this. There are, of course, limitations. All instant films have a distinctive look, with fairly soft edges. That's part and parcel of the format, so you won't be able to get rid of that off the bat. But if you like the style, you will be able to compose much better looking shots that any other camera on the market.

If you have a basic grasp of things like aperture and shutter speed, you'll be absolutely fine. Of course, even if you don't, there are options for you. The fully automatic mode operates pretty much like a point and shoot, albeit with a higher quality lens.

But I can't see too many total novices picking one of these up. Because, at prices starting from £699 / $599, this isn't a cheap camera. But it's not really meant to be. There are loads of options for people who just want a cheap and cheerful way to get an instant snap.

Instead, this is intended for those who want to craft their compositions a little more. And for that kind of user, there really isn't anything better you can buy. Expensive? Sure. Worth it? If you like a good photo, almost definitely.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.