Discover a simple way to process and share Polaroid cameras for free and print out photos for 17 times less than usual. All you need is a digital camera, PC or Mac and this free tool
Remember the old Polaroid cameras? Slot in the chunky film, flip open the lid and snap. After some frantic shaking, blowing and 3 minutes of wishing a slightly greenish picture appears.
Even a picture of a cat next to a dustbin, or some old Converse trainers somehow look like ‘art’ on a Polaroid. There are very few cameras you can say that about.
We’ve got a load of Polaroids on display on our living room wall (mostly of friends rather than dustbins) and people always stop and gawp at them.
There’s something magical about Polaroid photos…
They might not be at the cutting edge of photography but they’re attractive, nostalgic yet somehow contemporary at the same time.
The problem is Polaroid films are crazily expensive AND they’ve stopped making them
Sadly Polaroid stopped making their iconic cameras in 2007 and it wasn’t long after that they ceased production of the film.
Have a quick look on eBay and you’ll find savvy hoarders who’ve kept old stock (mostly in fridges to help preserve them).
The problem is even this chilled stock is now several years past it’s sell by date and because they’re becoming more and more scarce, they’re becoming more and more expensive.
This film sold for £17 and it’s almost 7 years past they’re expiry date.
That works out at £1.70 per photo and there’s no guarantee the film will work at its best.
The Polaroid is dead… long live the Poladroid!
The good news is some canny fellow has figured out a clever digital solution for old school Polaroid lovers.
It’s a free piece of software for the PC and Mac that processes your digital photos so that they look just like a real Polaroid photos – right down to the minute details on the frame.
It’s called Poladroid and you can download the software here:
It’s extremely easy to use. You just (install it, obviously) fire it up and then drag your digital photos over the camera.
Here’s a quick ‘3 step’ pictorial guide I made for you.
There’s also a video guide you can see here.
You’ll know it’s ‘developed’ once there’s a little red ribbon on the picture.
Please note: It’ll save in the default folder for pictures. You can choose/change where it saves the pictures by clicking the Poladroid menu then ‘Preferences’.
I’ve found the pictures so good that if you get them printed on decent photo paper and cut them to size they’re almost indistinguishable to look at. We’ve got them all over our house and as I said guests always stop and comment – and not just to say how awful the photography is.
Here’s a picture of the ‘Love Wall’ which I took in Exmouth Market, London a few years ago:
When I ran it through the software this time you can see it gave it a greenish tinge.
Run it through again and the effect will be different – it’s never the same twice (just like Polaroids).
You can share the photo online for free… or print it out for a fraction of the cost
If you use Flickr or Facebook or a website where you share photos obviously you can just upload your prints and share them with friends. I know people who post them on their blogs to great effect too.
I personally like to print them out – something which would once have been ridiculously expensive as we’ve seen.
Earlier I said that a genuine eBay Polaroid film that’s 7 years past it’s sell by date costs £17.
If you buy thick, highly quality photo paper and print it yourself it’ll cost you a fraction of the price.
To give you an example, in my setup I have this printer.
and I use this paper with it:
Now this paper is not exactly the same size, it’s slightly too big. Don’t worry, all you need to do is print out the image at the genuine Polaroid size which is 8.8 x 10.7 cm (you should be able to specify this in your print settings). Then when it pops out of the printer simply cut it down to the right size.
I’ve used Canon as an example above (simply because that’s what I use) but this should work fine on any brand of printer or paper. The key things to bear in mind are:
1) It won’t work so well on a Laserjet (the types of printers you usually find in offices)
2) It’s worth getting the thicker, smaller photo paper. That way you’ll save money and there’s less waste.
So how much cheaper is it?
You could save 4x by printing it at home, or a whopping 17x using an online printing service
Assuming you already have a printer, the photo paper costs around £13.54 for 50 sheets. That’s around 27p a photo. Add around 10p – 15p for the ink usage and you’re looking at about 40p a print.
That’s more than 4 times cheaper than the Polaroid film.
I’ve had the best quality results doing this mainly because I like the thickness of the paper.
If you use an online printing service (which obviously doesn’t require a printer or paper or ink or any of that gubbins) the savings are immense.
For instance on Photobox (who I recommend if you’re based in the UK) will print at just 10-12p a photo (depending on what offer they’ve got on). That’s a whopping 17 times less than a Polaroid film. If you buy in bulk the prices go down further.
So there you have it! Polaroids from your digital camera for a fraction of the price!