The Polaroid iM1836 mirrorless Android camera was officially launched last week for $299. It’s an interesting product at its core by offering interchangable lenses, a touch screen and all the networking capabilities of Android 4.1 for such a low price. However, its debut hasn’t been well received by more knowledgeable photography communities online. Negative comments on sites such as Reddit, Amazon and various blogs aren’t pointing to the actual quality of the camera as its worst flaw. Instead, cries of false advertising have been directed at Polaroid and Sakar International for using language that suggests the iM1836 is a Micro Four Thirds camera when it really isn’t.
Micro Four Thirds is a standard created by Olympus and Panasonic for digital cameras. Without getting too much into technicalities, just know that official Micro Four Thirds cameras share the same size image sensor and lens mounts. In other words, any Micro Four Thirds lens is going to work on any Micro Four Thirds camera. The MFT standard isn’t as wide open as something like Android, so other companies can’t claim their products are MFT if they aren’t. That’s the mistake Polaroid made.
Polaroid made somewhat sneaky claims to being associated with MFT in its marketing language. It never actually stated the iM1836 was a full MFT camera, but it used language such as “compact 4/3 body” and “compact micro 4/3 body.” The problem is these statements shouldn’t have been made at all. By saying this camera has a MFT body, it leads the customer to believe it’s compatible with MFT lenses and follows the MFT standard.
MFT lenses will not work with the iM1836 without an adapter ring for a couple reasons. For one, Sakar built the image sensor into its lenses. Real MFT lenses aren’t designed like that. Even if you could somehow fit a real MFT lens onto the iM1836 without an adapter, there would be no sensor in the camera’s body to record images. Secondly, the iM1836 uses a proprietary lens mount. That means only lenses that are specifically designed for that mount will fit the camera without an adapter.
At this time, the iM1836 is not for sale on Amazon anymore. It’s listed as being temporarily out of stock. I don’t think demand for this camera was through the roof, so there has to be some other reason why supply suddenly ran out. You may still be able to find this camera at Walmart.
I want to give Polaroid and Sakar the benefit of the doubt and assume someone in the marketing department thought a mirrorless camera and MFT camera were the same thing. Still, that’s a big mistake to make for the company that owns Vivitar. You would think Sakar would know the difference or at least oversee the marketing materials more efficiently.
For the sake of its product, Sakar needs to erase any mention of MFT from the marketing materials and spec sheets of this camera.