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Deutsches Technikmuseum - February

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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Exhibit of the Month February 2017

Photo: The two instant cameras differ significantly in size, compactness and technical equipment.

Representatives of different generations: the Polaroid-Land Model 95 from 1948 and the Instax Mini 8 from Fujifilm, 2013. © SDTB / Foto: C. Kirchner

Instant cameras, 1948 and 2013

The Polaroid 95 from 1948 is the first ever instant camera. It is considered a milestone in camera technology. The decisive factor for its commercial success was the photo’s being immediately available. This feature provided Polaroid with another success seventy years later.

A type of roll film was used in the camera. The quick development process created by Edwin Herbert Land enabled a circa 8.25 x 11 centimetre photo to be completed in 60 seconds.

Photo: The instruction manual has illustrations showing how to use a Polaroid camera. On the left, there is a short text explaining the pictured individual parts of the camera and their functions.

„It’s easy…“: Operating instructions for a Polaroid Land Model 95, ca. 1948

An ingenious invention: The chemicals were on the film itself but the development process did not begin until it was pulled out of the camera. The first Polaroids were, however, only black-and-white; colour wasn't possible until 1963.

Trendy again: the unmistakeable “Polaroid look”

As the use of digital photography with its rapid availability of photos increased, interest in instant cameras waned. Polaroid went bankrupt in 2008. In Japan, however, Fujifilm continues to produce instant film and cameras and that segment is experiencing growing popularity. Their current model is the Instax Mini 8.

Today, the Polaroid concept is being adopted by smartphone photography: Different moods can be captured with the unmistakeable “Polaroid look”. Currently, digital instant cameras are also attracting greater following. The Polaroid Z2300 has the colour pigments right in the paper whereby the pictures are developed with the so-called Zero Ink or ZINK process. Whereas in the past Polaroids could only be presented as a one-time snapshot, nowadays the pictures are uploaded to social media platforms and circulated that way.

© (Operating instructions): Polaroid Corporation Administrative Records. Baker Library, Harvard Business School