Phrases like “Wait, let me instagram this first” are common these days, with our smartphones taking over bulky cameras in documenting our every experience, whether exciting or mundane.

Convenience and cost saving, however, have come at the expense of quality of image and a physical printed product. If you’ve been dreaming of not compromising on any of these, it seems Peek!, the official Impossible Project’s Partner Store in Singapore has found a solution that does just that.

By marrying 2 technologies – modern iPhone photography with classic Polaroid photography, we get the IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab, a fully functioning camera that transforms any digital image into an instant print.

This nifty gadget was made possible with the help from the Kickstarter campaign and a bunch of passionate and talented instant photography lovers. The team came together to conceptualize and work on the design of the IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab in Germany, with Professor Achim Heine, designer of the Film Processing Unit (FPU) coming on board as well. The Instant Lab has come a long way, with its first prototype being handmade in the Enschede factory, the Netherlands more than a year ago.

The Instant Lab is a polaroid hardware that serves as a real camera, using an exclusive four-element coated glass lens to capture a photo from our iOS device’s display screen. This is possible through the shutter mechanism within the Instant Lab itself, also known as the FPU. The captured image is then transferred onto the film instantly; producing a unique analog photo through a photochemical process. And yes, the Instant Lab is a camera, not a printer.

Sounds good in theory, but what about the photos that result from this? The end product is a softer and more muted image of one’s original photo from the iOS device. As the Instant Lab essentially uses the iOS device’s screen as the source of image, the output is sharper and more vibrant in color as compared to traditional Polaroid films.

Furthermore, one can alter the contrast, gamma and hue of the photo through the Impossible Project App (available on the Apple App Store for free) before placing the iOS device on the Instant Lab. This enables users to edit the photos to their liking and make multiple copies of the same shot, a few things that a traditional Polaroid camera cannot fulfill. Users can also upload and share their photos with the instant photography community through the Impossible user gallery. With the Instant Lab, smartphone photos can now turn into tangible memories.

For samples of what you can expect, check out In An Instant, a free exhibition featuring over 100 photos that were captured using the Instant Lab. These shots were the work of 3 established phoneographers (smartphone photographers) – Aik Beng Chia, Bryan van der Beek, and Ivan Kuek. One can witness the street-style photos of Chia, Kuek’s humble snaps of the streets of Paris, and the listlessly grand images of the nature and various cities by Van der Beek on display.

Kuek, the founding member of Singapore Instagram (SGIG), tells UrbanWire, “In the past, people have to spend money on films and cameras, and put time aside for developing and printing the films. Now, almost everybody has got a smartphone.”

Simply select an image from the Impossible Project App, place the iOS device on the cradle, and pull the shutter slide out. A signal on the app will prompt you when the exposure is complete. Proceed to close the shutter, push the button and wait patiently for approximately 30 seconds as the Instant Lab develops your photo.

Van der Beek, an award-winning commercial and editorial photographer based in Singapore shares with UrbanWire how technology is changing his work. “One of the strangest requests that I’ve had from a client (for a commercial project) was to add Instagram filters onto the photographs,” laughs Van der Beek.

Chia, who recently published his first monograph Tonight The Streets Are Ours, added: “All you need is a phone. It’s a point and shoot process…just have fun with it.”

Product Specifications
$400 at Peek!
Check out its e-store for online purchases.

Dates: Till Jan 2014
Exhibition Hours:
Noon – 8 pm (Tues – Sat)
Noon – 7 pm (Sun)
Location: 36 Armenian Street, #02-04
Admission: Free