While Polaroid is no more, you may have noticed — in record stores, hipster shops, or Urban Outfitters — that the instant camera is enjoying a second life. On September 15, Leica, the iconic camera-maker, energized the genre further with the release of its Leica Sofort, the company's first foray into instant. The model feels light in the hand, looks sleek in white, mint, or orange, and at $350, it has enough bells and whistles to add the versatility we're used to after a generation of smart phones: self-timer, double-exposure, macro. And, of course, selfie mode.
That Leica — the Porsche of cameras — engineered an instant camera is a sign of times both nostalgic and new. I'm young enough to crave the instant gratification of a digital camera, yet old enough to remember shooting a roll of film as though each frame were precious. With the Sofort, you’re able to connect those two dots with a ten-pack of Fujifilm Instax (that’s compatible with the model). Which is what I did, walking the streets of Boston around a sunny Copley Square.
While aiming an iPhone at a stranger is likely to get you socked, when I pointed the Sofort at passersby, parents, and people with pups, their faces lit up. Two girls leaping off a step, a dad and his son en route to the Red Sox game, a poodle in a colorful dress — click, click, click. Many of these Sofort subjects actually waited the three or so minutes it took to check out the crisp, credit-card-sized photograph that developed. With that price tag, you'll want one, too.