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Protest Photography Safety Tips: Dos and Don'ts, How to Blur Faces, Essential Gear

By Jess Grey
Here's our guide to taking photos safely at a protest, what not to do, what gear to bring, and how to remove location data and blur faces before uploading to social media.

Sony’s ZV-1 compact camera zooms in on vloggers

By Devin Coldewey

Sony has taken aim at the suddenly enormous market of people who want to self-produce high-quality video with a minimum of setup. Its ZV-1 mutates the versatile RX100 series into a selfie video machine, and it could be the all-in-one solution many a vlogger has been searching for.

The new camera is very much based on the highly successful and acclaimed RX100, which over the years has grown in both price and capabilities but remains something the user is behind, rather than in front of. The ZV-1 rethinks the camera for people who need to work the other way round.

The 1″, 20-megapixel sensor and 24-70mm equivalent, F/1.8-2.8 lens are borrowed from the RX100, meaning image quality should be excellent (though vloggers may want a wider-angle lens). But the camera has been customized with an eye to selfie-style operation.

That means the electronic viewfinder is gone, but there’s now a fully articulating touchscreen display. A powerful new microphone array takes up a large portion of the camera’s top plate, and the ZV-1 comes with a wind baffle or deadcat that attaches to the top hot shoe, giving the camera a flamboyant look.

Image Credits: Sony

A huge new dedicated record button is placed for perfect operation by a left hand holding the camera from the front, and the zoom dial should be thumbable from there, as well. A new “background defocus mode” uses the widest possible aperture, naturally narrowing the depth of field with no need for all the AI rigmarole found on smartphones — and it’s smart enough to switch focus to the product a vlogger is being paid to promote when they hold it up close.

All told, this could be a convincing works-out-of-the-box solution for people who may be juggling a panoply of hardware from multiple generations to get the same thing done. The proven RX100 image quality and reliability, combined with ergonomic tweaks to make it more selfie-friendly, might entice people thinking of putting together more complex setups.

At $800, or $750 if you order in the next month, it’s certainly more expensive than an entry-level setup, but probably cheaper (and definitely easier) than getting a mirrorless, lens, mic and other accessories you might need to match it.

The Top 3 Rugged Cameras for Daredevil Shooters

By Jess Grey
Don't rely on a delicate smartphone for those \#OutdoorAdventure moments. Get a camera that laughs in the face of danger.

Film Photography Can Never Be Replaced

By Jonathon Keats
Old-school image-making liberates us from algorithms—and helps us pursue an unfiltered connection with our own creativity.

Fujifilm's Street-Friendly X100V Checks All the Boxes

By Scott Gilbertson
The latest model in the series features top-tier image quality, responsive controls, and a portable design that oozes retro charm.

These 360-Degree Cameras Have Seen It All

By Julian Chokkattu
These lookers capture everything around you, then give you tools to serve up shareable edits of your videos.

We’ve come full rectangle: Polaroid is reborn out of The Impossible Project

By Devin Coldewey

More than a decade after announcing that it would keep Polaroid’s abandoned instant film alive, The Impossible Project has done the… improbable: It has officially become the brand it set out to save. And to commemorate the occasion there’s a new camera, the Polaroid Now.

The convergence of the two brands has been in the works for years, and in fact Impossible Project products were already Polaroid-branded. But this marks a final and satisfying shift in one of the stranger relationships in startups or photography.

I first wrote about The Impossible Project in early 2009 (and apparently thought it was a good idea to Photoshop a Bionic Commando screenshot as the lead image) when the company announced its acquisition of some Polaroid instant film manufacturing assets.

Polaroid at the time was little more than a shell. Having declined since the ’80s and more or less shuttered in 2001, the company was relaunched as a digital brand and film sales were phased out. This was unsuccessful, and in 2008 Polaroid was filing for bankruptcy again.

This time, however, it was getting rid of its film production factories, and a handful of Dutch entrepreneurs and Polaroid experts took over the lease as The Impossible Project. But although the machinery was there, the patents and other IP for the famed Polaroid instant film were not. So they basically had to reinvent the process from scratch — and the early results were pretty rough.

But they persevered, aided by a passionate community of Polaroid owners, continuously augmented by the film-curious who want something more than a Fujifilm Instax but less than a 35mm SLR. In time the process matured and Impossible developed new films and distribution partners, growing more successful even as Polaroid continued applying its brand to random, never particularly good photography-adjacent products. They even hired Lady Gaga as “Creative Director,” but the devices she hyped at CES never really materialized.

Gaga was extremely late to the announcement, but seeing the GL30 prototype was worth it.

In 2017, the student became the master as Impossible’s CEO purchased the Polaroid brand name and IP. They relaunched Impossible as “Polaroid Originals” and released the OneStep 2 camera using a new “i-Type” film process that more closely resembled old Polaroids (while avoiding the expensive cartridge battery).

Polaroid continued releasing new products in the meantime — presumably projects that were under contract or in development under the brand before its acquisition. While the quality has increased from the early days of rebranded point-and-shoots, none of the products has ever really caught on, and digital instant printing (Polaroid’s last redoubt) has been eclipsed by a wave of nostalgia for real film, Instax Mini in particular.

But at last the merger dance is complete and Polaroid, Polaroid Originals, and The Impossible Project are finally one and the same. All devices and film will be released under the Polaroid name, though there may be new sub-brands like i-Type and the new Polaroid Now camera.

Speaking of which, the Now is not a complete reinvention of the camera by far — it’s a “friendlier” redesign that takes after the popular OneStep but adds improved autofocus, a flash-adjusting light sensor, better battery, and a few other nips and tucks. At $100 it’s not too hard on the wallet, but remember that film is going to run you about $2 per shot. That’s how they get you.

It’s been a long, strange trip to watch but ultimately a satisfying one: Impossible made a bet on the fundamental value of instant film photography, while a series of owners bet on the Polaroid brand name to sell anything they put it on. The riskier long-term play won out in the end (though many got rich running Polaroid into the ground over and over) and now with a little luck the brand that started it all will continue its success.

Polaroid Now Review: Good, Old-School Fun

By Scott Gilbertson
This instant camera offers modern features like autofocus and a better flash in a classic, colorful package.

5 Best Compact Cameras (2020): Cheap, Rugged, 10x Zoom, and More

By Jess Grey, Brendan Nystedt
Your phone's portrait mode is no match for a real point-and-shoot camera's portrait lens. These are the best pocket cameras we've tested.

7 Best Action Cameras (2020): GoPro, DJI, Insta360

By Scott Gilbertson
Whether you're shredding the slopes or diving the seas, these compact, often waterproof cameras are made for danger.

Insta360 One R Review: A Smarter, Modular Action Camera

By Scott Gilbertson
The company's latest shooter blends the best of action and 360-degree cameras into one sweet, modular package.
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