UPDATED 12.01.10: The post now contains info about a resolution bug in the app.

Polaroid Instant Cam is an instant camera app that gives your photos the look of an old Polaroid SX-70 print. It disappeared shortly after the last update, but two weeks later, a new update with bug fixes is now back in the App Store.

A few months ago, Pente Group released Polaroid Instant Cam, the instant camera photo app officially licensed from Polaroid. Because it was licensed, it had high expectations in the iPhone photography community because the licensing deal should have allowed Pente to have a bunch of features in the app that no other developers could have. But the first couple of versions were plagued with problems, not the least of which was unusable super low resolution.

The app is back with the new 1.2.1 update. Most of the problems with the app have been fixed.


The official word on this update is “higher resolution output, bug fixes, and Polaroid Studio upgrades”. This is actually a much better update than the three line App Store description implies.

Photo quality is greatly improved. Picture resolution has been improved to awesome in this update — 2100×2550 pixels on an iPhone 4. iPhone 3GS resolution is 1050×1275 — improved, but not full res. The image is now almost square which is very close to the look of the original Polaroid SX-70 prints. The frame has the signature Polaroid tab (where the processing goop was in the analog prints). There is a very nice subtle texture to the frames. The photos look a lot more like an old Polaroid with this update.

UPDATE #03: Glyn Evans at the iPhoneography Blog reports a bug in version 1.2.1 of the app which effects imported, tall images only. Using the app’s camera or importing landscape/wide images from your photo roll works great and gives you the maximum output of 2100×2550 px. Importing portrait/tall oriented images from the photo roll results in images that are only 1050×1275 px on an iPhone 4. What’s interesting is that this bug isn’t in the 1.2 version which appeared in the app store for only several hours a few weeks ago.

I’ve contacted the developer about this and they’re working on a fix. I’ll keep you posted with any updates. =M=

There are 4 camera modes — black & white, vintage, colorize and digital. The digital mode is a straight print. The black & white and the vintage modes each have processing which age the image (or convert to monochrome as well). The effects are good — not the best among instant camera apps, but definitely good — better than most. The black & white is a good conversion. It has a lot of range throughout the grays and isn’t high contrast — much like the old Polaroid Land film would have looked. I particularly like the new high-res vintage effect. The colors are aged and a little washed out like old instant prints. It adds “random” vignetting and a very good film grain to the image.

You can use the app as a camera. It has an accurate square viewfinder that now works correctly. You can also load images from your photo library. either way, you’re given the option to zoom and crop your shot. The whole process is very smooth and easy. You can add text to the bottom tab of the frame. The app uses a great looking non-iOS handwritten font to write notes, similar to Polarize app (but with a different font — this looks like ITC Bradley Hand).

I’ve only got a few minor beefs about this new update, but nothing now that is a dealbreaker. The text is limited to 25 characters. As you can see from the sample above, there’s still room for more text. Allowing more text on the image would be a good improvement. The ability to save the original print along with the processed print would be a good add-on. But as the app easily allows you to import images from your photo library, this isn’t really a super urgent request. The much touted Polaroid Studio is Pente’s attempt at a social photo sharing network. They are a little late to the game now — Instagram has that crown. Had they released this good of a Polaroid app months ago, they might have had a better shot of creating a viable social network. Neither of these really diminish what is a very awesome update to this app.

While Polaroid Instant Cam doesn’t have the number and diversity of the filters from misskiwi’s excellent ClassicINSTA app, it does have the Polaroid look. The filters are good and the details and textures are well done. The note feature is one of the more attractive ones for any app. The resolution is awesome. For taking instant Polaroid-style photos, Polaroid Instant Cam is now one of the better apps in this class. I can’t call it a fauxlaroid. Polaroid Instant Cam is the real thing. For me, once the portrait import bug is fixed, this is a four-star app. Overall, with this update, Pente Group have exceeded expectations and the app is deserving of its Polaroid moniker.

Polaroid Instant Cam works on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 3.13 or newer. It’ll now run you $1.99 in the App Store.

Polaroid Instant Cam - Pente Group