The Parralax of Polaroid

Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Blog, Equipment, Model, Polaroid & Film, Technique, Travel | 5 comments

I’m a digital shooter and I’m whole heartedly in love with my D3′s. But on a recent trip to B&H Photo in New York, I decided to venture over to the dark side by purchasing a Fuji Instax 210 instant film camera. It’s very similar to Polaroid, except for the fact it’s a wider format image, as opposed to being square. But like Polaroid, it produces instant prints (2~4 mins to develop)

It was an interesting and indeed fun experiment shooting with what is essentially a VERY rudimentary camera, that offers little or no control over how it takes photos. There is some functionality which allows you control exposure (bright, neutral, dark), focusing (near, infinity) and flash (on or off – although more often than not it appeared to fire regardless of this setting). But as much as I enjoyed the rawness of it, one of the things I really struggled with was parallax error. With SLR’s, as you look through the view finder, you see what the lens/film/sensor is seeing. But with this camera, the viewfinder is positioned on the very left of the camera body, quite a distance away from the lens, so you’re both effectively seeing different things.

The parralax error obviously gets exaggerated the closer you are to the subject and becomes less of an error as you move away. It was frustrating to compose, what should have been a beautiful image only to find I’ve chopped a head clear off (yes the parralax error was THAT BIG!)

It’s also a misnomer to describe it as instant film – because each image takes 2~3 minutes to develop in front of your eyes. So the choice is to wait and see how the shot turned out (crop, exposure, flash) before making any adjustments and taking your next shot, OR throw caution to the wind, click away and find you’ve beheaded your model or blown out your exposure.

The Gallery

So here are all 30 shots from the shoot I had with Anna Catherine and the Instax – the good, the bad and the down right decapitated ones.


With that said, given all it’s flaws, it’s actually a REALLY fun camera. Coming in at less than $70 it’s at a price point you could nearly consider disposable. The film isn’t prohibitive cost wise either. So I have a feeling polaroids will be making an appearance at most of my shoots from here on in. For those of you that are friends with me on FaceBook, I have another Polaroid gallery there – just some fun snaps taken with family and friends on the New York trip. For $70, I can’t recommend this camera enough.

5 Comments

  1. I discovered that problem early on as well Ciaran, although I didn’t know the technical
    Name for it. Once you’re aware of it you can compensate a little but it really is difficult to get the composition right.

    Saying that, it is a fun camera, and the unpredictable nature of it can be half the fun ;-).

  2. Oh wow, loving it! She looks great.
    One not so technical question: where do you buy your films/polaroids/whatever they are called? Maybe a link? Looking for a cheap(er) ebay alternative, as always :)

  3. So far I’m living off the stock I brought back from B&H over in New York. For film after that, I’ve been planning on picking it up from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fujifilm-Instax-Gloss-Instant-Film/dp/B00005NPPQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323812867&sr=8-2

    It’s more expensive, but not by a huge amount

  4. Is it wrong to say that I prefer the decapitated one the most :)

  5. It’s always good to hear an honest comment ;)

Care to share your opinion?