Polaroid is back in the instant photography business it created and abandoned

When Polaroid stopped making instant film cameras in 2007 and ceased instant-film production the following year, it was sad—but also, in the era of digital photography, perfectly understandable. Left with little other than a famous name it could license out, the company kept going bankrupt and being sold. But now–in a happy ending I would not have predicted–it’s returning to instant photography with a new camera called the OneStep 2 and color and black-and-white film for it.

Technically speaking, what’s happening is a rebranding of the Impossible Project, a startup that bought a Polaroid factory, continued to make film for old Polaroid cameras when Polaroid would not, and is controlled by the same family that acquired Polaroid itself last May. The new $100 OneStep 2 fulfills a promise Polaroid made way back in January 2010 to release a new OneStep and looks a lot like its famous 1977 predecessor. But it includes modern upgrades such as a rechargable battery (the original put the batteries in the film packs, a clever but eco-unfriendly move).

The merging of the Polaroid and Impossible Project brands also applies to film for classic Polaroid models such as the SX-70, which, at $19 for an eight-pack, is now several dollars cheaper than what Impossible charged in the past. (Film for the OneStep 2 is $16.) Impossible’s film isn’t as predictable as what Polaroid once made, and develops more slowly, so I hope the company continues to improve it.

Sadly, James Garner is no longer around to do commercials for the OneStep 2–but we’ll always have the ones that he and Mariette Hartley did for the original.