Socialmatic who? This is the real vintage instant camera

You thought Instagram was 'retro'? Think again.

 

Jam Kotenko

Tech

Published Dec 18, 2014   Updated May 29, 2021, 11:03 pm CDT

Every Instagram obsessive is thrilled about Socialmatic, the newest Polaroid camera that promises to bring your grams to life by not only posting to your account, but also printing them out instantly, filters and all. While many surely grabbed the opportunity to pre-order the novelty item for a cool $300, others remain on the fence. If you’re intrigued but uncertain, there’s another cool option for you to consider—an instant camera that uses affordable standard receipt paper instead of pricey Polaroids.

PrintSnap wants to bring back the fun of printing snapshots on the go, without the ridiculous price tag or limited printing material. While most instant cameras today use ink and sell specialized paper in packs of 10 or less, PrintSnap uses standard thermal paper, the same stuff used for receipts in restaurants. “For the price of eight Polaroid 600-type images, you can print over eight thousand PrintSnap pictures,” the camera’s site claims.

There are many things that make PrintSnap worth considering. It reportedly can store up to 50 feet of standard 2 1/4 inch thermal paper—which you can buy at almost any office supply store—that will allow you to take as many as 150 pictures. It doesn’t need batteries or memory cards, so you can keep shooting as long as you have paper. It also doesn’t have the ability to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth—you can effectively undergo digital detox without sacrificing your love for photography. 

In a blog post, creator Michael Ciuffo, an electrical engineer based in Seattle, explained how PrintSnap was born out of a love of tinkering and our obsession with the nostalgia of photos, rather than their quality. “Make a camera [that] produces extremely low quality instant images for an extremely low price,” he writes. “You still get the novelty and benefits of a physical keepsake, and as long as the pictures are somewhat recognizable, they still serve the purpose of helping you catalog and recall memories.”

Instagram and Socialmatic are many things, but truly vintage they are not. But PrintSnap is. 

Unfortunately you can’t pick one up just yet. The PrintSnap camera is in its early development stages and all you can do for now is subscribe to the PrintSnap newsletter to get updates on production. Although Ciuffo constructed his prototype out of wood, he intends to offer a lower-cost option made from plastic. 

Whatever the cost of the PrintSnap camera may be, the way it makes use of cost-effective materials already makes it a viable option for trigger-happy photographers and artists alike.

Photo via PrintSnap

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*First Published: Dec 18, 2014, 2:43 pm CST