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The Instant Lab Fuses Digital Photography With Analog Prints

instant lab fuses digital photography analog prints 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Digital photography may be quick, convenient, and instantly shareable, but let’s face it — there’s nothing like the feeling of holding an actual photograph. Florian Kaps, Henne Wanders and Achim Hein felt a need to bridge the gap between the digital and the tangible, so they create the Instant Lab. The Instant Lab fuses everything good about digital photography with everything that makes Polaroid photographs so awesome. Basically, you can take an image from a smartphone or tablet screen put it through this machine, and voila — an analog photo comes out. The Manual caught up with its CEO,  Creed O’Hanlon to ask all about The Instant Lab.

How did the idea for The Instant Lab come about?

It was partly conceived by a camera engineer, Henne Wanders, together with Impossible’s founder, Florian ‘Doc’ Kaps and an eminent former designer for Leica, Achim Hein, as a way to bridge digital image-making and analog instant film. However, to make it possible, they also had to ‘re-invent’ and refine  the mechanical film processing unit that is the basis of all classic Polaroid instant cameras. It was a simple concept with some major mechanical challenges.

The Instant Lab is like a magic box that allows you to turn digital photos into tangible, analog instant Polaroid-like photo. How does it work?

At its simplest, a lens projects an image from a smart phone or tablet screen onto an instant film, which is then processed mechanically (and chemically) as the film is ejected. It’s actually not a printer but a camera.

How long does it take to set up The Instant Lab and use it?

It works right out of the box! Download The Impossible Project app, which manages the image selection, cropping and exposure, insert a pack of colour or black white Impossible film into the Lab, and away you go!

Who does it make the ideal gift for?

It’s a great gift for anyone (of any age) who likes making and sharing images, and who also wants to make them tangible. The images themselves are the classic square-frame photos that everyone recognises as ‘polaroids’ – and like Polaroids, the opportunity to watch them develop in the palm of your hand is still something like magic!

What’s next for you?

An instant camera, the first designed specifically for the classic Polaroid in over a decade. It will be easy to use, point-and-shoot, but also have the capacity to be a sophisticated photographic tool when used in combination with a dedicated app and bluetooth!

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Ann Binlot
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ann Binlot is a New York-based freelance writer who contributes to publications like The Economist, Wallpaper*, Monocle…
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