Polaroid has announced a new high-end instant camera dubbed the Polaroid I-2 today. According to Polaroid, the $599.99 I-2 is the company’s most capable instant camera yet, with built-in manual controls and the sharpest new lens it’s ever produced.

The I-2 boasts a three-element autofocusing lens, which Polaroid claims should produce sharper photos than any of its other instant cameras. Meanwhile, the lidar (light detection and ranging) sensor should be able to automatically adjust the lens based on how far away the subject is, even in low-light settings, allowing for more accurate focus. It’s a lot of tech for a camera that uses a decades-old instant film system.

The new lens, to an extent, could address one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to Polaroid’s instant cameras. Traditionally, Polaroid’s instant cameras tend to produce photos that aren’t particularly clear in comparison to their Fujifilm rivals, especially in low-light conditions. That gives the photos an artsy and dreamy vintage vibe that’s charming, which was why the Polaroid Now Plus was my top instant camera pick for retro fans. However, it can be frustrating if you want to quickly and easily take a shot that’s clear and true to life.

In addition, Polaroid also added a small external display and controls so you can manually adjust shutter speed, aperture, brightness, and shooting modes from the camera itself. Making similar adjustments with the Polaroid Now Plus required using the companion app on your phone.

The new Polaroid I-2 is a bulky instant camera with built-in controls you can manually adjust.
Image: Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

The Polaroid I-2 also attempts to differentiate itself from the rest of the lineup by offering compatibility with i-Type, 600, and SX-70 film. Otherwise, the I-2 is similar to the Polaroid Now Plus, with Bluetooth support and an app you can use to control the camera remotely.

My colleagues Antonio G. Di Benedetto, Becca Farsace, and I have been testing the new Polaroid I-2 for the past few days, and you can check out Becca’s thoughts in the video below. As for me, I’ve yet to form an opinion. So far, the Polaroid’s prints exude the same retro vibe as its siblings, but my biggest gripe with this camera is how difficult it is to set up and use. All three of us wasted multiple shots while coming to grips with the I-2’s quirks, which gets expensive fast since Polaroid prints cost about $2 each.

Once you get the hang of things, the photos do indeed look sharper than those from the Polaroid Now Plus. You’ll just need patience to get there, especially if you, like me, don’t already have some photography knowledge — and of course, the willingness to pay $600 for an instant camera.

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By asm3a