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Make prints from your phone: Impossible Instant Lab closer to reality

From smartphone to print, the Impossible Instant Lab can take your photo from digital to analog.

While Socialmatic is offering a print solution using a built-in zinc printer (and smaller prints), The Impossible Project has come up with a different approach to creating hard copies of digital images. The Impossible Project that took on the task of reproducing Polaroid instant film in 2008, has expanded their product line to include the Impossible Instant Lab thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Similar to the analogue Daylab that Polaroid (and Fuji instant film) fans use(d) to create instant prints from 335mm and 120 film, transparencies, snapshot prints and 3D objects, the Instant Lab operates in much the same way using onscreen images from your iPhone as the source using the Impossible Project iPhone app. (The company is looking into developing an Android app.)

The process is very simple: launch the app, choose and crop an image, select the film type, set the timer and open the "shutter" (a small plate that slides out, exposing the film to the iPhone image). When the timer beeps, close the shutter, press the button and, voila! You have a print. You can see a demonstration in this video. You should be able to manually tweak the exposure time manually as well.

The app, which requires 3GS or newer iPhones and iOS 6.0 or later, is usable now, even without the Instant Lab. Images from the camera roll, shot directly with the camera or digital "scans" of prints made with the app can be shared to social media or in The Impossible Project's gallery. You can also shop for instant film directly from the app.

With the new Impossible Project app, you can share images via social media as well as The Impossible Project's Gallery.
A film shop is incorporated into the app, so you can place your order without having to go online.

The Impossible Project announced on July 29  that the first batch of Impossible Instant Lab units were packed and ready to go to some Kickstarter backers. No exact ship date for the general public has been set. Some sites have reported a second wave of shipping by August 29, but we haven't been able to confirm that. The next update to shipping dates should be posted on the Kickstarter page around mid-August. Retail pricing is expected to be $299.

Given the popularity of apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic, many iPhoneographers — and Lomo aficionados — will probably appreciate the soft, muted look that the Instant Lab is likely to produce.  As a long-time Polaroid fan who still owns several cameras and Daylabs (and has a stash of old Polaroid film), I'm anxious to see this new Instant Lab in action. I've no doubt that it will work but my concern, after seeing prints shot with a camera using The Impossible Project film stock, is that the output will be even softer and more muted than Polaroid film. It's certainly possible that even filtered Instagram and Hipstamatic images may look sharper and produce more vibrant colors given that the iPhone screen is used as a source image for the Instant Lab. But the concept is intriguing and if/when we get our hands on a review unit, we'll fill you in on the details.  


Total comments: 16

It is not for everyone, but I get it. This is a project that allows digital photographers to do works similar to David Hockney, Lucas Samara and Maripol. I am particularly fond of David Hockney's Polaroid work. I would prefer a direct interface with all digital mediums, but I suppose you could transfer digital images to a iPhone and then to analog Polaroid. It would have to be a pretty compelling project to warrant such a labor intensive effort. I suppose most users will be using it as a novelty to distribute their photographs. After all, for those of us old enough to remember, before there was Instagram and Facebook, Polaroid was the primary way that friends instantly shared their photographs.


This must be a joke, right? I mean, I don't have an iPhone, I am using Samsung, but don't they have WiFi, USB or BT connections? If yes, then why on earth would anyone pay money for such thing?

Anyway, I seriously believe this is just one of those false Internet "news", not a real product for sale.

Edited 44 seconds after posting
1 upvote

how about buy a canon cp900?


The first reaction is that this is just another silly iphone accessory. But, as a party favour, toy, it's fine.


Well. While I can understand why it should be called the iDiot Instant Printer. It's a toy that will appeal the likes of many. Remember, that there are lots of folks out there whom are completely clueless when it comes to computers. I have friends whom are pros, and still call me about basic issues with their PC's. They would rather get this then deal with the internal workings of their phones. You need to understand that lazy people seeking obvious convenience is what keeps engineers working into the wee hours of the night.

1 upvote

Actually (thanks cknapp61) I *am* an iPhone user. And iPad. But also, decent (if old) DSLR.

Prints? Via Polaroid?! Pur-leeze!!! If I want to print from ANY of my kit, I have some jolly decent inkjets at my disposal - as well as one of the earlier (but still 100% functional) Canon dye-sub jobs.

Why on earth would you want to pay neo-polaroid prices for grotty old-style analogue prints?


By (unknown member) (Jul 31, 2013)

I knew iphone users were idiots. Are there not enough Wi-Fi locations that people could even be at a party and "link" their phone to their friends network, then print from a decent printer, easily up to 8x10 inches (with my Android HTC-1X 8MP camera)?

Are the iPeople not smart enough to use "Android Like" APPS such as FOLDER SYCNC which ties to your DROPBOX account, and PHYSICALLY syncs files between your phone/tablet and selected computer, thus the photos are already on your computer by the time you get home...ready for printing?

I am a film user, shooting, developing, and printing up to 16x20 inches from 35mm, 12mm, and 4x5 film, so yes, items that promote film use are of interest to me, but the image quality you would get from the device mentioned in this article would not be worth the trouble. OK, I am a Nikon DSLR enthusiast also.


Hmm are they iDiots or iTards?


I wonder why these inventors don't use their creative efforts to bring a digital sensor to analog cameras. THIS would be a great invention bringing a lot of very good cameras back to life.




This is REALLY crazy. What is the point of making analogue image of already digital capture? In particular in the quality that comes out of Impossible films? I have used Impossible films with Polaroid camera recently and it was real (expensive) fun, but the contrast range and colours leave a lot to be desired. I LOVE analogue photography, but this just about the most awkward and fun-less way to shoot instant images I can think of .


Shake it! Shake it. shake it, shake it. Shake it like a...

1 upvote

The funny thing is that Polaroid had advised its users to stop doing that:

"A Polaroid spokesman added: 'Almost everybody does it, thinking that shaking accelerates the development process, but if you shake it too vigorously you could distort the image.' "

1 upvote

don't shake~

1 upvote

That's something I'd love to play with... if impossible instant film weren't so expensive :(


Cool for a credit card size print. Anything beyond that is a mediocre printout from mediocre camera phone. Well-done!

Total comments: 16
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