Monday, March 28, 2011

Dear Polaroid x800,

I needed a camera I could use while snorkeling on my next vacation.  You were an affordable digital camera that was supposed to be waterproof up to 30' deep.  It seemed like a match made in heaven.  I had visions of taking you all the places my Other Camera was too awkward to go - like into my pocket so I don't look like a dweeb with a giant camera around my neck at every school function and field trip.  We'd take beautiful pictures together, you and I, and maybe you would even be tough enough to withstand my daughter's love.

I realize now that ours was a relationship doomed from the start.  How could you withhold so much information from me when we first met in the store, like what size memory card you required?  And how was I supposed to know your, um, batteries were so small, since there's no mention of your AAA requirements on your packaging?  If you had just spelled out plainly what your needs were, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time running back and forth.

You left out a few other things, too - like the wrist strap that would be sort of necessary if we, I don't know, actually went into the water.  Thanks for making me take an hour to make one the day I left for vacation - I needed the extra work that day.  And your owner's manual ... oh, a digital one is nice and all, but not all of us have time to boot up the computer every time we want to check to see how to take a closeup shot.  Way to go green and make me waste more than 40 pages of my own paper!

Maybe it's me, not you, I thought.  I was willing to overlook your faults, if only you could perform as you boasted when we first met.  But alas, you couldn't walk the walk.

Sure, if I took you out in bright light and focused on things at a distance, you performed acceptably well.
Of course, your screen is so small and poorly designed that it's damn near impossible to see anything on it in the full sun, but I can point and guess if I have to.  And yes, that's pretty grainy for a photo taken with an 8 megapixel camera used in full sun, but maybe I just needed a period of adjustment.  I had been with my Other Camera - you know, the one you saw me with on land all the time - for several years.

The real problems started as soon as I got you wet.  Trying to take pictures in the pool without putting my face in the water was futile; you can't see the viewscreen unless you're directly in front of it, and the refraction of the water wasn't helping things.  A few of the pictures in the pool turned out completely black, which is tricky to do when you're photographing in bright Jamaican morning light.  I tried taking some shots in the ocean, too, finding actual things to aim at that I could (sort of) see on the viewscreen.  I got pictures like this one of a rock with fish around it:
At least I think that's what it was.  For comparison's sake, here's a picture of the same area, taken from above the water with the Other Camera (so you can see it's not a silt issue, it's your performance issue):

(That picture, by the way, was taken from my fourth floor balcony at 6:30am on a cloudy day with my 5 megapixel camera that's more than four years old.  Yay for 10x zoom, a steady hand, and a good camera!)

After trying to take a few pictures in the water, I took a few more in the air, and I was surprised that the best of them looked like this:
Some people would pay $5 for an iPhone app to get that effect, but all I wanted was a clear picture.  I checked to make sure I hadn't inadvertently applied suntan lotion to the lens, only to find condensation all over the inside of it.  Inside the waterproof camera.  Don't believe me?  How about a picture from a few minutes later, after I had let you sit in the sun for a while and half of the condensation was gone?
Oh, and did I mention your lack of stamina?  After only a few dozen pictures, your battery indicators were already showing you were down to less than 1/4 of a full charge.  Between that and the fact that the batteries fall completely out of the camera any time you open the door to get the memory card or connect the camera to the computer to transfer pictures, I think you aren't exactly the smartest camera on the block.  More like, "the camera on the block that was designed by an idiot with a complete lack of understanding of how an underwater camera - or a camera of any sort - will actually be used by a consumer."

To say I am displeased with you would be understating it.  Pissed off, wrathful, intent on vengeance ... that's more the level we're talking here.  I could have gotten better photos with a cheap point-and-shoot sealed inside a ziplock bag, for god's sake.

I'll be calling your parents about this tomorrow morning, you can be sure of that, and they'd better be prepared to make restitution.  Because I'm not going back to Jamaica anytime soon, and thanks to you, I have exactly ZERO usable shots from the water, you stupid piece of useless misrepresented underpowered poorly designed crap.

Also, you're ugly, and your mother dresses you funny.  So there!


Your ex-owner


Michael said...

That's horrible, horrible performance with your camera.

I have the Canon waterproof camera, the PowerShot D10. With image stabilization, its pictures are approaching the quality of my 6 year old big camera. I like my waterproof Canon.

Can you return the camera as being defective?

VPFreia said...

I hope you are sending this to the company that made the wonderful Polaroid x800 - hope they understand the finer points of the English language!

Jane F said...

We just came back from the Caribbean and have some GREAT snorkeling shots with the Polaroid x800. Agreed, they should have supplied a wrist strap, AND you can't get the pictures off using the USB cable. But for $45, I felt it was a much better alternative than a disposable 35mm.

Becky said...

Thank you for posting this! Your post is one of the few useful warnings against this horrible camera on the internet, especially since Polaroid has no online support. Hope you don't mind that I quote your post and link to it.

Hopefully future peeps will know to STAY AWAY!

Thanks again. Becky

DUHMARUS said...

crap, i just bought this camera yesterday and I need it today for kayaking adventure.

crossing my fingers...

P. Morton said...

Too late for me Gretchen. I too have this poor excuse for a camera! I have been trying for over an hour to download the pics my husband and I took on our mini vacation. No luck so far. Can't return the darn thing, but I will be calling Polaroid in the morning!

Anonymous said...

I'm am a river enthusiast and fisherman in Colorado and I love my Poleroid x800. I use it for pictures of fish I catch in very wet and rainy conditions and it does a great job. I have taken pictures in the pool underwater as well and it does a nice job ... I think leaking and condensation is your problem from the beginning... your camera was defective. To download all you need is a cheap ScanDisk adapter that makes your miniSD fit in a regular SD slot and your good to go. Don't ever use the CD you get with any camera to download picture viewer softwar, your computer has all it needs to see and download pictures straight from the disk. - Mitch

shawmutt said...

I wish I saw all these reviews online before getting the camera online. It took a Google search for "Polaroid x800 battery life" after my batteries were killed dead by this camera in about 20 shots. I posted a review on Amazon to counter all the good reviews. It seems like cameras are another area on the internet that have made the professional reviewer industry rich!

Garbage camera, even as a gift for my 4-year old. Thanks for the honest review and pics.

Anonymous said...

You can extend the battery life consderably by turning off the flash. The camera will charge the flash every time it is turned on, so that it is there should you need it. It is still piss poor battery life, and I agree with the screen visability in the sun (although more of a brightness thing than a screen size thing). Hard to see anything. Packaging should clearly say on the front that it needs a flash card to take a photo.

Anonymous said...

I think it is oddly suspicious that there is no info on Polaroids Support page...No manual, no specifications...the model is not even listed on the support page. I wonder if Polaroid even is aware that the model exists. I asked some questions about the camera on an eBay store and got no response.

My guess is that this product has no affiliation with Polaroid whatsoever. I will steer clear of this model!

AndyCap said...

Yep, I bought one just before a trip too. A motorcycle trip from NH to TX. I thought it would work perfect as a point and click while riding. I hung it from my by a lanyard.

I was astonished by the lack of battery power and life too. I started out and got as far as CT, and found the brand new batteries were dead.

I continued to pour batteries in to the camera as I went along. When I got to PA, I went to upload the pictures to my computer, and discovered I didn't have any. I went to take a test shot, and a blue box popped up on the screen and said, "flash not ready". I spent 3 sets of batteries getting that pop up?

I then tried to find out how to work around this flash problem - needing to go on line because the manual just showed how to feed this monster batteries. It was as clear as the murky pictures above.

In the end, I never did get even 1 good picture out of this battery eating, flash not ready, monster.

Barry said...

So glad I found you, you've just saved me some money.Plan B now I suppose.