Polaroid cameras may no longer be as ubiquitous as they once were, but there’s still interest in instant photography, especially among the younger generations who are discovering the analog medium’s fun appeal. Fujifilm tells us that its Instax products continue to sell well; the Impossible Project is keeping old-school Polaroid alive; an in-the-works gadget, Prynt, puts instant film printing into a smartphone case; and even the new Polaroid is creating new instant film products, like the Socialmatic. The problem with instant photography is that prints are costly. As an alternative, one inventor is creating an instant photo printer that uses the same paper that restaurants use for your bill.
The camera, called the PrintSnap, still a prototype, uses simple, inexpensive thermal receipt paper – identical to the paper used in cash registers, as oppose to pricey instant film. You also don’t have to replace any inks. Unfortunately, what you gain in cost-savings, you lose in color – the PrintSnap makes only lo-fi, 640 x 384-resolution black and white prints. But its simplicity is the whole point: “You never need to feel shutter anxiety again,” its creator, Michael Ciuffo, pitches on the website, because the low cost of thermal receipt paper makes each print cost $0.003. It proudly boasts that “for the price of eight Polaroid 600-type images, you can print over 8,000 PrintSnap pictures.” The video shows different ways you can “edit” the photos (albeit it’s a bit cheeky).
The camera holds up to 50 feet of receipt paper, which has a 150-picture limit; each picture measures 3 x 1.75 inches. In its current form, it is not the most portable thing in the world – about the size of a portable speaker or a small shoe (3.25 x6.75 x3 inches). It does happen to be relatively light, though, at 1.45 pounds. The pictures print on the spot, but take roughly 30 seconds to do so.
The PrintSnap uses a rechargeable battery, but given the low energy needed it can take hundreds of pictures on a single charge, the site claims. Replacing the thermal paper is all you need to worry about in the short-term.
There is no word on the price as yet, since it’s still in development. Regular models will be made of walnut wood, but they plan on making a cheaper plastic version as well. The most you can do now is subscribe to their newsletter. And if you like, you can read the blog about Ciuffo’s journey from having a vague idea of wanting to do something with thermal paper to the full-blown camera. Of course, there’s no confusing this product for a Polaroid, but it’s all about fun than practicality.
(Images via PrintSnap/Ch00ftech)