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One of my favorite cameras ever is the original Polaroid SX-70. This marvel of engineering, chemistry, and industrial design introduced the world to fully integral instant photography—before the SX, instant photography wasn’t quite instant, requiring a peel-apart film that relied on some pretty gnarly chemicals.
The SX-70 was like the iPod of its time. With a sleek metallic and leather exterior, the device popped up, transforming a jacket-pocketable slab into a sophisticated SLR camera. It was an expensive, high-tech imaging solution the likes of which the world had never seen in the early ’70s.
Perhaps most importantly, the SX-70 was the first Polaroid camera with the iconic, instantly-recognizable square photos that define that photo format. Until recently, the only way to get that iconic square instant photo was by shooting imperfect, Dutch-made Polaroid Originals film in a compatible (vintage or modern) camera. But you Huey Lewis-types now have another photographic option: last year, Fujifilm developed a square version of its awesome Instax film. Unfortunately, Fuji then proceeded to hamper it with an expensive hybrid digital/analog camera.
Enter the Lomography Lomo’Instant Square. It’s the first analog camera to shoot square Instax film. Like the SX-70, this camera is compact, and folds up when not in use. So far, so good…
The design and build quality of this camera is impressive. Lomo didn’t always make great-feeling, tightly-assembled cameras but since the Automat series began, it’s clear that these areas have been vastly improved. My review unit was a creamy white hue with color-matched faux leather on it.
Opening the camera takes a bit of force, which means it’s unlikely it’ll spring open in your bag. That’s reassuring to me, since the camera uses rubber for a bellows assembly behind the lens, a potential point of failure if debris falls inside the camera’s body. When closed, it vaguely resembles a pair of electrobinoculars from Star Wars.
The camera also protects its own front lens, opening and closing shutters that cover the glass as it unfolds. I was annoyed by how the camera’s lens mechanism resets its focus every time the camera is closed, so you’ll need to remember to check it each time you take the camera out.
Speaking of focus, the Lomo’Instant Square has a fairly forgiving range of zones to choose from. That said, I recommend you splurge and get the combo version of this camera, since it includes a much-needed portrait attachment. Though the Lomo’Instant Square features a tiny selfie mirror, at arms’ length, you’d be hard-pressed to take a portrait that’s not out of focus. Screw the 0.5m attachment onto the camera and your selfies will look so, so, so much better.
Photo modes are plentiful since this shares its exposure system with Lomo’s other recent instant cameras. Multiple exposures, 1 stop +/- compensation, and even a bulb mode are all standard features. I’d say that’s just enough control to help steer the otherwise-automatic exposure system into giving you the results you want, and certainly enough to let you experiment.
One pain point for me was the viewfinder. Unlike the magical, complicated SLR setup inside the SX-70, the Lomo’Instant Square has an off-center viewfinder that’s far, far away from the long lens. It’s tricky to frame shots up just right, and you’ll need to mentally compensate for parallax to make sure your subject is where you want it.
There are a few things you should know before you take the plunge and pick the Square. First, it’s expensive at more than $ 200. For the sake of comparison, the newest Polaroid Originals-branded model, the OneStep 2 sells for about half that, and gives you true Polaroid-sized pictures.
If that doesn’t dissuade you, grab the combo option that includes the Splitzer, a must-have portrait lens attachment, and an adapter back that’ll let you use Instax Mini film. That last piece is super cool—Instax Square film isn’t cheap at around $ 1.30 per shot, so you’ll probably get more use out of your camera if you can also shoot the cheaper, easier-to-find Mini-sized film.
Taken on its own, I’m impressed with what Lomo’s done here. Do I love it as much as my SX-70? No. But the square prints, fabulous design, and reliable Instax chemistry make this a far more approachable experience.
The last time and place you want to hear someone compliment your ski apparel is when you are in the bathroom, fiddling with the butt zip. As I started to examine the zippers in my general crotchal area, I heard someone exclaim, “Sweet onesie!”
I looked around and saw another woman giving me a thumbs up. I should’ve gone into a stall first. But such is the attention-grabbing nature of Airblaster.
Airblaster was founded in 2003 by pro snowboarder Travis Parker, with pals Jesse Grandoski and Paul Miller. As you might have been able to tell from the name (a slang word for “fart”), they decided that the sport of snowboarding was getting too serious. Airblaster’s wildly eye-catching “Original Fun Product” is designed to be visually striking and easy to use.
The company’s onesies are also affordable. The Freedom suit is a mere $ 350, and the classic Ninja is $ 110. That’s as much as a ski jacket and thermal top cost, without pants. If you’re just getting into the sport and don’t want to spend years accumulating gifts, hand-me-downs and sale items, the Freedom suit is the way to go.
One and Done
The recent return of the ski onesie is a matter of heated debate. Some argue that ski and snowboard design has necessarily evolved since the ‘70s. Wearing a onesie is awkward and inconvenient. You can’t quickly throw it on to put chains on your tires while driving. You can’t pull the top off to chill out while eating lunch in the lodge. If you shred the butt out, you can’t replace just the pants. The drawbacks seem self-evident.
Layering is difficult, which is annoying because the Freedom suit isn’t insulated (Airblaster does make an insulated version and a Beast suit with more waterproofing and insulation). On a 30-degree day, the classic Ninja suit didn’t provide nearly enough warmth. I refused to put on more layers because even though both the Freedom suit and the Ninja suit have 350-degree butt zips, it’s still pretty difficult to go to the bathroom. The onslope Port-a-Potties were wet and slippery enough as it is, and I didn’t trust myself to maneuver around any extra items of clothing without falling in.
Speaking of butt zips: Airblaster’s waterproof fabric is a proprietary three-layer blend called Eco Vortex that is made from 38% post-consumer recycled material. The suit is also fully seam-sealed. However, the waterproofing is only rated at 15K. That rating seems pretty great—you can stack a one by one-inch square of water up to 15,000 millimeters tall before water starts leaking in—and it might work in places like drier snow, like Colorado or Idaho. But in heavy, wet Cascadian snow, it isn’t nearly waterproof enough. By lunch, I had a wet butt.
Finally, the hood wasn’t quite big enough for my helmet. It fit, but not with enough room for me to turn my head easily. Who doesn’t wear a helmet? Does your mother know? Go put on a helmet right now.
Fun in the One
But there are certain advantages to having a onesie. They are just so. Much. Fun. Especially if you are a gregarious, outgoing personality. Even in the tasteful, subdued storm blue of the suit I tested, I could not go fifteen feet without someone giving me a high-five, or screaming “Onesie!” from the other side of the taco shack. There’s just something about a onesie that makes everyone want to bop you on the shoulder and call you “bro,” even if you’re female.
The Ninja suit is even better. Airblaster does many special editions with snowboarders (this year’s is with pro snowboarder Corey Smith). Both the hooded and the unhooded versions come in a variety of colorful prints and patterns.
Your usage isn’t limited to snow sports, either. You could buy your friends matching suits and wear them all out while camping! You could wear them as Halloween costumes! For someone who has no reservations about prancing around in full-body stretch polyester-Lycra blend, the possibilities are endless. And the women’s-specific cut even includes a ponytail pass-through hole in the hood.
For snowboarders, onesies are great for powder days and in the park. You have to sit down in the snow to clip into your snowboard, and snow always gets in between your jacket and your pants. I didn’t realize how annoying it was to constantly bat snow out of the back of my jacket until I didn’t have to do it anymore. With a onesie on, you can flop around like a fish in a bucket and not worry about getting snow inside your pants.
The women’s-specific fit was trim, but freeing. Airblaster claims that the suit is designed to be roomy, so you can still backflip in it. I can’t do that. However, I did ride through the park to execute my signature move, which I call “The Dipsy Doodle.” I can report that the onesie is indeed loose enough to pop off the top of the smallest jumps while shrieking at the top of your lungs.
It’s hard to recommend buying a onesie. You’ll still need to bring an extra jacket on ski trips for scraping ice off your windshield, and going out to eat. I definitely would not buy the classic Ninja or Freedom suit. After five hours in Pacific Northwestern snow, I was pretty wet and cold.
But recommend it I must. It’s just…so much fun. I would shell out an extra hundred bucks or so for the insulated, 30K-rated Beast suit for warmth and waterproofing, and I should also probably own a printed merino wool Ninja suit for everyday shenanigans. In fact, I should probably be wearing it right now. You’ll never know how oddly constricting twosie life can be, until you try the alternative. Just be prepared for all the attention coming your way. You might want to practice a few warm-up high fives before you get in the lift line.
Since I reviewed Tableau, Qlik Sense, and Microsoft Power BI in 2015, Tableau and Microsoft have solidified their leadership in the business intelligence (BI) market: Tableau with intuitive interactive exploration, Microsoft with low price and Office integration. Qlik is still a leader compared to the other 20 vendors in the sector, but trails both Tableau and Power BI.
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At a glance, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus might be confused for their predecessors, the 6s and 6s Plus. It’s deceptive. The iPhone 7 is perhaps the most drastic revision of the phone since it was first released nearly a decade ago. It’s not just the missing headphone jack. There are several other big ideas, including a new dual camera system (on the 7 Plus), a new touch sensor home button, and mercifully, newly added water resistance. These are substantial changes, and they hint at what we can expect from the future of Apple phones.
I stayed up late last night reading Ted Koppel’s most recent book about the potential consequences of a cyberattack on America’s electric power grid.
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