Sci & Tech

Nostalgia's Reentry to Iran

Auto & Tech Desk
Nostalgia's Reentry to Iran
Nostalgia's Reentry to Iran

The 13th International Digital Imaging Fair, organized by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, was held at Tehran’s Mosalla last week. It welcomed over 80 foreign and local firms specializing in digital cameras, photography, imaging, and audio visual equipment.

While side events included a range of photography workshops and a photo exhibition, exhibitors mostly displayed a range of camera equipment and media services.

Amidst all the commotion, a quick glance around was enough for any bystander to fall for the powerful advertising of one particular company: DG BAY or Yasna Parsis Negar.

A majority of visitors were carrying the company’s white paper shopping bags that had a minimal design. In the middle of the bag, beside a little square of rainbow colors read an eight-letter word that would have delighted the likes of Andrei Tarkovsky, Andy Warhol, and Walker Evans: Polaroid.

Having had a hand-me-down Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera, Alpha 1, sitting on my shelf for quite a few years and not having managed to find it a pack of film (not even expired) anywhere for just as long as I had had it, this came to me as a splendid surprise.

Following the ant-line of Polaroid shopping bags I found my way to the company’s stall. There on display was a collection of vintage, as well as more contemporary models of Polaroid cameras. Although there was no SX-70 film to be found, one wall of the company's stand was covered with instant photos taken by the visitors using the newer models.  

The company, DG BAY has the right to the Polaroid brand in the Iranian, Iraqi, Pakistani and Emirati markets, so they claim.  

Nearly 80 years prior to the rise of Instagram, the Polaroid camera -- the precursor to the app -- was the pioneer of instant imaging. Best known for its instant film and cameras, Polaroid was established in 1937 in America. The following years for the business were a roller-coaster ride (Polaroid passed through bankruptcy twice in the 2000s). It now continues to operate primarily as a brand licensor.

The Iranian 60s and 70s generation is sure to experience a nostalgia rush on hearing the company’s name; back in the day Polaroid cameras were commonly brought back as souvenirs by relatives returning from a month-long pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Analog cameras and film might now sound obsolete to the majority of people who enjoy the convenience of digital and smartphone photography, film and instant imaging, however, still have their own cult of devout followers. Over the past few years the only instant camera available in the market, the Fuji instax mini 8, was received warmly in Iran. The majority of buyers were the younger generation.

Now, Polaroid’s Z2300 instant digital camera and the Polaroid Socialmatic are the two leading cameras on sale by the company Yasna Parsis Negar.

The Z2300 has a 10MP camera and produces 2x3-inch prints using Zero Ink (ZINK) printing technology. ZINK is a thermal printing technology that produces full color hard copy prints by using heat to activate cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals embedded in layers inside the ZINK paper.

The Socialmatic, on the other hand, is an android-based digital camera with a built-in zero ink printer. Photos can also be shared via WiFi and Bluetooth. The device allows users access to a range of social media websites. The Socialmatic's main camera is a 14-megapixel shooter; it also has a 2-MP front facing (selfie) camera.

According to a company representative, the two models are available for sale. The Z2300 is offered for 9,000,000 rials ($270 at market exchange rate) and the Socialmatic for 10,000,000 rials ($300).

Shahram Mirsalehi, the company's director said, "It's taken a lot of effort to get the Polaroid contract in Iran. However, we've now succeeded in bringing it to buyers."