Polaroid Go review: the pocket snapshot (or almost)

by Kelvin
Polaroid Go

Does an analog instant camera that (almost) fit in your pocket speak to you? This is what Polaroid offers with the Go, its new model. Like his respectable grandfather, he produced square images, but significantly smaller. Curious as we are, we couldn’t resist the urge to take it on board with us during the summer to see what it was really worth.

The introduction of a new instant film format is not common. And apart from Fujifilm whose Instax Mini and Square are now well installed, it was previously necessary to do with digital printing. Polaroid enriches the offer by offering Go, a reduced format to allow the creation of compact cameras: 66.6 x 54 mm overall, the sensitive area covering 47 x 46 mm.


Pricing and availability

The Polaroid Go is available in France for € 120. It is also available as a starter kit including the device as well as a pack of 16 prints for 140 €. Instant color films are sold for € 20 in a pack of 2 cartridges of 8 prints. As of this writing, there is no monochrome film.


The Polaroid Go is thus the first analog camera to use this new format. And the least we can say is that he seduces from the first contact. Made of a neat white polycarbonate, its curvaceous design is in our opinion a success. The compactness is there since it measures 105 x 84 x 61.5 mm for a weight of 242 grams. Unless you’re always walking around with a parka or raincoat, it won’t fit easily in a standard pocket. On the other hand, it finds its place quite easily in a handbag or a messenger bag.

Polaroid wanted to keep the “push-button” philosophy of the first models and offers a user interface that is stripped down to say the least. In addition to the shutter release button and the flash activation button housed on the upper face, there is a simple black push-button for powering up.

A minimalist LED matrix displays a number (in this case the number of shots remaining) as well as a dot indicating the activation of the flash. No light indication in the optical display, offset to the left of the case. Located at the end of a growth, it remains easily accessible whether one aims with the right or left eye.

The power supply is provided by a non-removable battery that can be recharged using the micro-USB port housed on the side. This should in theory provide enough energy to use about fifteen packs of films before needing recharging.

Finally, the front face, without much surprise, houses the ejection slot for the exposed film, the lens, an electronic flash and a selfie mirror housed on the entrance to the visual. Simple, basic.

Extremely simplified use

Once the battery is charged and a new film pack has been inserted (each has 8 prints), the device starts by automatically ejecting the protective film cardboard. It will be noted with amusement that a sort of unrolling “tongue” in flexible plastic covers it: this is quite normal. Poetically dubbed “frog’s tongue” by Polaroid, it aims to protect the just-exposed photo from sunlight.

Frog tongue

Unlike the venerable instant films of the eighties, those concocted by Polaroid version twenties are much more sensitive and delicate to handle. Without going into details, we will be satisfied to specify that it is imperative to protect a freshly taken photo from light during its first minutes of existence. This is the role of the frog’s tongue covering the exposed part of the image. It is better to leave the photo in place for about fifteen seconds before removing it and placing it immediately, face exploded against an opaque surface, for fifteen minutes. The colors will only be better.

Polaroid go

In fact, the image produced matures during the first 24 hours, its slightly palotte colors gaining in contrast. However, do not expect an exceptional result, especially if the scene being shot is not very bright. In this regard, the flash, active by default, fires with each shot. Do not forget to deactivate it if you use the Polaroid Go in full daylight… and this for each shot, the flash being automatically reactivated each time. Annoying.

Low light lens

This imperative need for light is explained by the low sensitivity of the film, but also by the characteristics of the lens: 34 mm opening at f / 12 or f / 52 (depending on the lighting conditions). The performance is not improved by the use of polycarbonate resin lenses, which are not very conducive to high reproduction fidelity. It would all be dramatic on a digital camera, but it’s not exactly the same here. After all, you expect images with vintage charm from Polaroid Go, which often means just passable quality.

Polaroid go

And to be honest, the result is not lacking in charm if it is not perfect. The small photos produced will fill instant image lovers with joy. The selfie mirror is practical and allows the production of correct images. The optical viewfinder does the job if the scene is at least 1.5m away. If the distance is less, the parallax produces a very imprecise framing.

Double exposure and self-timer

Polaroid still managed to fit two cool gadgets into its camera: double exposure and a self-timer. They are activated by a sequence of pressing the shutter release button and the flash. And since the manufacturer does not mention them in the quick start guide delivered with the device, you will have to go to their site to find out how to proceed.

Two presses on the flash button activate double exposure while a single 2-second press (then the shutter release button) activates a 9-second self-timer. If this operation is not very intuitive, it has the merit of giving two possibilities which may be of interest. Too bad, however, that the manufacturer did not find the necessary space to integrate a tripod thread (or selfie stick).

Polaroid go

What about image quality in all of this? As we briefly mentioned, the prints produced have an undeniable charm… if not true. Globally, the colorimetric rendering tends towards magenta and the overall sharpness of the images can sometimes be poor. Is it due to the definition of the sensitive surface or the poor quality of the lens? A bit of both, surely. It should be noted in passing that there is currently no monochrome version of the Polaroid Go film.

The management of the extended dynamic ranges (very light and very dark areas in the same image) is rather correctly ensured by the chemistry of the film and possibly by the built-in flash that will be used in order to unblock the dark parts. Provided of course that the subject is less than 2 meters, maximum flash range.

Polaroid Go: what we think

Without a doubt, Polaroid Go is an instant camera full of charm and that we will also love for its flaws (thanks to the fashion of). On the other hand, we will appreciate less the price of the films, sold 20 euros the pack of 16 prints (two cartridges of 8 prints per pack). At this price, we will think twice before setting off… as we did before the appearance of digital!

Plaroid Go

€ 120

Polaroid go

Handling & ergonomics

8.5 / 10

Build quality

8.5 / 10

Quality / price ratio

7.0 / 10

WE love

  • Nice design
  • Compactness
  • Battery life
  • Ease of use

We like less

  • Improvable objective
  • Inaccurate close-up viewfinder
  • Approximate colorimetry
  • Film Pack Prices