We stopped by Polaroid’s booth tonight to take a look at the company’s new iM1836 interchangeable lens camera, expecting something a little flawed, but with enough charm to maybe tempt casual photographers to take a look. However, it’s evident that whatever remnants of the company’s legendary photographic history could have cross-pollinated when the brand changed hands most recently are categorically absent. Anyone who is looking to buy a camera to take photographs of any kind should avoid the iM1836 at all costs.
It’s really too bad, because the iM1836 takes an interesting approach by putting the sensor in the lens unit rather than in the body itself, in much the same way as Ricoh’s GXR. But where Polaroid promises a fun, inexpensive, easy-to-use compact system camera "for your mom," what’s actually on offer is a hollow, plastic, inoperative piece of landfill debris. At $349, it costs more than a number of excellent interchangeable lens cameras — take Sony’s C3 for example — but unlike them, is incapable of reliably taking photos, whatsoever. The best it can muster is 1 frame every couple of seconds shooting, and the the software is so broken that it regularly needs to have its battery pulled to get the screen to un-freeze. The reps on the floor tell us that the camera is a pre-production unit, and we understand the pressures involved with getting something to market, especially for a new company that doesn’t have any experience making cameras. That said, barring some miracle over the next month, the iM1836 isn’t so much a photographic tool as it is a mediocre junior high science fair project.