Something's Still Unfocused With This Picture

Updated (Again) — Polaroid is still being a bit coy about their entry into the mirrorless camera world. Oh, one of the models will be an Android-based camera; there's nothing surprising about this. It also appears that Sakar is the official manufacturer (their gear shows up under the Polaroid, Vivitar, NERF, and yes, Hello Kitty brand names).

What Polaroid has said so far is Android Jelly Bean (4.1), 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, 18mp 1" sensor, 3.5" touchscreen LCD (flippable on at least one model), m4/3 lens use (via adapter), and a US$400 price for the Android model when it ships in Q2. We're seeing what look like early prototypes at the Consumer Electronics Show, but no one I've talked to has managed to handle one yet for more than a quick walk-through, and the details still seem vague on many things. This is one reason why I don't deal with rumors on this site (the iM1836 is no longer a rumor, as Polaroid has sent out a press release coincident with CES, is showing it at the show, and has bare-bones information on their site). 

The pricing is suspicious: 

  • iM1836: Android, WiFi, US$400
  • iM1232W: not Android, WiFi, US$350
  • iS2433: not Android, no WiFi, US$300 (but 25-600mm lens, which reveals the sensor size ;~)

No one is selling a mirrorless entry camera at those prices, let alone one that requires a sophisticated touchscreen and the CPU/graphics processor/memory required by Android 4.x. One wonders how much time/energy is going into perfecting the camera portion at that low-ball price, as the components alone will eat up most of that cost.

There's no phone built into the Android version of the camera. Only WiFi and Bluetooth, and the WiFi is not there on the low-end, non-Android model. So the camera will need to be in a WiFi hot spot or very near a base station/mobile platform in order to obtain much benefit to all that Android wiring. This also gives me pause: no one so far is talking about how they're going to queue photo communications (e.g. specialized Android software). Yep, it's the old "make the user do it" thing all over again. Take picture. Play with it using apps if you wish (using up lots of camera battery in the process, probably). When you're finally in a WiFi location, then manually get into the camera roll to manage/send images where you want them. To date, I've yet to see a camera maker get this right, though Samsung and Sony are getting closer. Kodak almost had it right, but then stopped making cameras ;~).

Note that there's a lot of incorrect information about this camera on the Internet right now. I saw one report say that the 10-30mm lens was a constant f/2.8. That contradicts the f/3.5-5.6 markings on the prototypes ;~). Another report says (correctly) that the sensor is part of the lens (ala the Ricoh GXR lensor approach), though I didn't immediately get how you make a m4/3 lens adapter to work if the sensor is in the lens (turns out you create a blank "lensor" module, much like Ricoh did with the Leica M-mount module of the GXR). 

Meanwhile, no one wants to talk about the sensor. The use of a 10-30mm lens made everyone think it was a 1" sensor, and that seems to be the case. Like Ricoh with the GXR, Polaroid seems to have a "different sensors in different lensor modules" approach: the iS2433 is a small sensor, the iM1836 is a 1" sensor, the m4/3 module would apparently be an m4/3 sensor. 

These all reasons why I use the words "pre-announced" instead of "announced" and other wording specifically to call out the not-yet-available status of things on this site. This Polaroid camera is definitely not yet ready for prime time: I'd call this "showing a prototype."    

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