I have wanted a Polaroid ever since I could remember. I remember seeing the Barbie Polaroid in USA during our trip there in 2001 but of course I didn’t get it then (I got a Barbie digital camera instead). For a long time it seemed like the right choice, but now I totally regret that!). Polaroid corporation stopped making cameras in 2007 & stopped making film for their cameras in 2009.

Fujifilm has been making Instax cameras since the late 1990s in two forms, the wide format & the mini (which takes credit card sized photos). I had been considering a Fuji Instax for the past three years or so but I wasn’t sure how I could just the cost, because though the camera isn’t all that pricey, print costs can add up.

About a month ago I started researching the Instax again. Saw that they have a new model out since late 2010, The Fuji Instax 50S which is a bit more expensive than the earlier ones but it has some nifty features. I finally decided to take the plunge.

So sometime late June I order the camera & two packs of film (1 pack = 10 exposures). And then I waited. And waited. And started to get antsy (isn’t expedited shipping supposed to be quick?) I got home from college today hoping to find a chit from the postman saying I had a parcel. Nothing. And then my mom got back too. And a little past 3 PM the doorbell rang. Could it be? No, it was too late.

Oh but it was the postman. With two parcels, the camera & the film (I ordered them separately). And of course I was completely ecstatic so I just tore open the pack.

The description of this camera on the Fujifilm website reads:

Compact & stylish piano-black body matches to the elegant party.
You can enjoy your instant photos stylishly and elegantly.
The instax mini 50S adjusts shutter speed incrementally, so you get good pictures even in low light. The ingenious self-timer let you take two shots with a single touch of the shutter button. The close-up lens allows you shoot as right up to 30 cm, for a 2:1 magnification ratio.

So the camera matches ‘elegant parties’ which are supposedly black. I don’t get it. :S
But jokes aside this is one powerful little camera. It is so glossy (& hence incredibly prone to fingerprints) & overall very sexy looking. Much slimmer & smarter than the earlier Chekis (the cheki is the Japanese name for the Instax). My mom loves how it looks. And after a few months of mucking around with Lomography cameras, (which are a lot of fun in their own right) I am enjoying using a camera with a precise viewfinder once again.

I loaded up the film (which is just so easy a three year old could do it, seriously) & started to roam around the house looking for something fun to photograph. I somehow landed up at the showcase & decided to photograph one of my favorite Barbie dolls.
So I pulled my mom from her seat, (I convinced her that the first shot was a momentous, magical occasion & she would not want to miss it.) positioned the doll on the table & clicked the shutter button.

The camera makes such absolutely delightful whirring sounds. It reminds me of a robot.
I was kinda confused to see a black piece of plastic come out first. Turns out it’s the cartridge cover & it always comes out the first time you’ve pressed the shutter button. The digital counter then showed the number 10 (for the number of films remaining). I clicked the photo. When the film comes out the top you have to handle it very carefully, no fiddling, bending & certainly no shaking.
I plucked it out very carefully & placed it on the sofa. And then both mom & me peered into the print, which if fully white when it just emerges. It brought to mind the nine year old me staring into glasses after I had dropped in some potassium permanganate, just to see the beautiful purple streaks. And in a way these incidents are related. They both feel like magic. Soon the photo emerged fully.

 Anyway, about the shot. It’s beautiful & completely in focus. The Barbie might appear slightly washed out, & that maybe because I held the camera a little too close. But you know what? I don’t care. I am so extremely happy with what I saw today. Due to the high cost I am going to try to go slow on the usage. I am waiting to try the instax on picturesque landscapes, I love shots I have seen of valleys & beaches. I wish I was in Goa right now. I must mention that i have read that instax print are quite prone to scratches, so I quickly stashed it away in a cute album.

Also, I wish to talk about this Barbie too. This is no ordinary Barbie. This is the 1999 Birthday Wishes Barbie Doll. It was never available in India. It sold for $39.98 in USA way back in 1999, & my dad picked it up for my 8th birthday in the year 2000 from Singapore. I guess he didn’t realize that this is a Barbie Collectable doll, they are made by Mattel, always limited edition, not meant for kids (they are age is 21+), &; are also ideally never removed from their boxes. As a kid I was a huge Barbie fan, I had 18-20 & I always ended up making a huge mess of them. This is the one that of few that ‘survived’ because I really treasured it. (the only damage to the doll is a small paint chip on the lips). I have four or five more in better condition than this but they are all newer, they were gifted to me in my early teens. It still blows my mind to think that this doll was made 11 years ago. My Dad has got me many lovely, thoughtful gifts over the years & this is just one of them. Thanks Dad!

I can’t wait to see how much this lovely little camera surprises me. x