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Polaroid Z2300 First Impressions
Sports a built-in printer that's lots of fun to use. Image quality won't set records, but this thing runs on pure nostalgia.
Design & Usability
The nostalgic feeling produced by the front-panel rainbow is equaled only by the clumsy and uncomfortable body design. The boxy chassis gives no consideration to ergonomics and makes the camera feel even cheaper than it actually is. We do like the manual shooting mode slider positioned where the thumb comes to rest, though it's easy to move accidentally and confuse yourself. We're also fans of the convenient mechanical paper tray release, and we like the manual focus control lever on the side of the body, which would've been helpful if image quality was any good.
The menu system is—how can we say this politely—FUBAR. It's ugly, dated, and makes simple tasks like printing or changing what options do exist a total slog. There also seems to be some overlap between the playback and printing interfaces, and modern conveniences like pressing the shutter halfway in order to close the menu and return to shooting don't exist.
In fact, now that we think of it, the shutter release doesn't even have a halfway position. Sheesh. There's also around two full seconds of shutter lag before each shot, so make sure your friends are standing still when you use this thing.
The printer is built seamlessly into the side panel of the body, and really does finish smudge-free prints in only thirty seconds or so. Print quality is terrible, with banding and gross colors all over the place, but who cares? This functionality is totally impressive in a sub-$200 model, and we felt hopelessly giddy once our goofy mugs came sliding out of the camera.
Of course the printer should only be partially blamed for horrendous image quality; shots are ugly long before they're spit out in ink form. White balance seems semi-random, the fill flash is harsher than a schoolyard bully, and we'd have to guess color saturation falls somewhere between 50 and 75%. Does it matter? Nope.
If you're seriously interested in convenient and quick photo printing, you'll be much better off with a separate printer—something like the Canon Selphy series. Image quality will be about a billion times better, and you'll get to use a decent camera rather than this ridiculous brick.
Everyone else should wait for a price drop and then go buy this camera. Stocking stuffer, birthday gift, whatever. It's an awesome diversion that's rooted in the early traditions of consumer photography, and it will add a lot of fun to at least a few weekends, before it inevitably breaks.
At DCI, we get to test many of the world's best cameras for free, so buying our own personal units isn't a priority. Yet of all the hundreds of cameras showing at Photokina, Polaroid's Z2300 is the first this reviewer would consider buying for personal use. Not because it's a particularly good camera—in fact it's quite horrible—but the built-in printer is a fun party trick, and for very little money it's a decent investment in future laughs and shenanigans.
But to actually perform its advertised function in a non-ironic way, the Z2300 has a long way to go. A long way to go.