The Impossible Instant Lab Beta Test

In April, I was asked if I would like to beta test one of the new Instant Labs, play with it and discover wrinkles before mass-production and release. Sounded like a good idea, and in early May, I took receipt of one, unit number I106

First impressions: it is a thing of beauty. It feels good and solid, and I love the application of the branding. Particularly cool is the embossed removable top, to keep dust off the lens. And the logo on the USB cable. Mmmmm… Detail….

 Instant Lab

Using it is very straightforward, as long as you follow the instructions. Over the days of use, the app kept being updated, and the released version is very clear – it even includes a video of what to do.

So here are some results and some thoughts…

One of the first things that got me on board with the Kickstarter funding was realising “it doesn’t just have to be iPhone photos – the iPhone is the medium for getting the image onto the film”. This got me excited as I had been dithering about it, worrying that while the iPhone camera is great, I don’t always take my best images with it. Not feeling restricted to the iPhone’s camera opened it up for me, and in to my library I went. These examples originated on iPhone, Fuji X100, Rolleiflex, and Polaroid cameras…


Neptune - Instant Lab test


Original taken with a Fuji X100, and processed through Silver Efex. Printed on PX600 film.

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial - Instant Lab test

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Straight from an iPhone pic. Gives a good idea of how PX600 responds to the colour.

In Flight

In Flight - Instant Lab Test

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Senate House

Senate House - Instant Lab test unit


Originally taken with my 1948 Rolleiflex on Fuji film. Starting image doesn’t need to be digital…



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Original taken with a Nikon D90 and 50mm lens.



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Wellington Arch

Wellington Arch


Fuji X100

London Eye

 London Eye - Impossible Project Instant Lab test unit

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Original taken with Hipstamatic (can’t remember the filter)

Canary Wharf

 Canary Wharf - Impossible Project Instant Lab test unit

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This one is being used in the leaflet included with the Instant Lab!

Finally, and why not, here is the first image I took with my first pack of the first Impossible Project film, scanned, sent to iPhone and projected through the lens of the first Impossible Project imaging device. Circularity.


 Daffodils - Impossible Project Instant Lab test unit

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Some conclusions…

Fun! It’s very straightforward to use, and you get into the rhythm of it quickly: set the picture, place the iPhone on the tower, pull out the slide when the light comes on, close it after the click, press the button. The frog tongue keeps the image protected, and you can leave it in place for a while to help the image develop.

Using the Lab is a new experience. It’s not like taking a picture with a camera: you’re not using it to frame and make choices, because you’ve already done that. But it’s not like just printing something with your computer, because it’s much more physical than that. It has more similarities for me to when I studied photography in the 90’s at the London College of Printing, and we had automated developing systems where you put the exposed paper in a slot in a darkroom, and after a couple of minutes the dry print would emerge out the other end. 

And as with any new way of making images, you start to think of how to use the device to its strengths. Don’t expect a straight, Polaroid-framed duplicate of what’s on your iPhone screen – that’s what your regular printer is for. This is a way to explore the individuality of the Impossible films, how it works with colour, light and contrast. And then start selecting images and shooting images for the Lab, think of it as an extension of your photographic process. It will be fascinating to see how people explore the possibilities this new printing process throws up.

To follow: when testing goes wrong, and unboxing the shipping product (it’s beautifully packaged…)