Instant photography has made a big comeback in recent years, thanks to the Instax range from Fujifilm. Now you can amaze your own kids (or your inner kid) with the joy of instant photography, just as you were amazed by it all those years ago. It was a very clever move by Fujifilm to take a chance on this old technology and introduce the Instax range, and the success has been phenomenal. There is now a whole range of Instax cameras to choose from, and even an Instax printer which allows you to print directly from your smart device.
I have so many fond memories of watching those shiny square film sheets slowly coming to life, waving them furiously until, through some magical alchemy, an image was revealed. It was one of those amazing experiences that you could share with the whole family, and it certainly brightened up a few winter nights around our house. The real joy of instant photography is in the fact that you get to hold those beautiful, funky prints in your very own hands, minutes after they are created. There’s something so much more engaging about a physical print as opposed to an image on a screen, and it’s great to unexpectedly find those little prints stashed around your home. Of course you can also create really cool collages to hang on your walls, and you’ll get tonnes of real comments from real people when you do!
Today I’m going to give you a run-down of the four Instax models available here at BestBuy.ca, looking at some of the key features and differences.
Basic instant photos with the Instax Mini 8
At the entry level we have the Instax Mini 8, a pretty basic unit in every respect, from features to aesthetics. It comes in 7 different colors, ranging from pink to black, and is super easy to use; you just turn it on, adjust the dial to the recommended position (indicated by a little LED light) and hit the shutter button. Out pops your exposed film sheet and then you just watch as the fog clears and your image appears. Be warned though that it may feel like time has slowed down as you wait for that moment of truth! All part of the fun of course. The Mini 8 runs on two AA batteries which should last long enough to shoot roughly 10 packs of film. Disposable batteries are not my favourite things in the world (of course you can use recyclable AAs) but they do have a distinct advantage in that you can replace the batteries whenever and wherever you need to, instead of waiting around for a proprietary battery to recharge.
The Instax Mini 70
One step up from the Mini 8 is the Instax Mini 70 which comes in six metallic-finish colours, and has a slightly more refined design aesthetic than the Mini 8. It also has a wider feature set, including a self timer, and a Selfie mode. There’s even a little mirror on the front of the camera which allows you to frame your Selfie properly. The Mini 70 has an Automatic Exposure Control mode, which compensates for dimly lit backgrounds, and also macro and landscape modes to choose from. It has a standard tripod mount, which could come in really handy for those self-timer group shots. Power-wise, it actually takes CR2 batteries, which is a type of battery that was commonly used in film SLRs, and may be a little more difficult to find, so worth stocking up on.
The Instax Mini 90 for better instant photos
Next up is the Instax Mini 90 which is definitely the trendiest of the Mini range, borrowing it’s look straight from Fujifilm’s highly regarded X series of mirrorless digital cameras, which I am a big fan of. This is definitely a camera that the hipster in your life will appreciate. It comes in a two-tone leather and silver finish, and there are two colour options for the leather; brown and black. Along with all the modes offered by the Mini 70, the Mini 90 also has two further modes designed with the creative photographer in mind; bulb mode, which allows you to shoot long exposures, and double exposure mode which allows you to overlay one shot over another. You can do some really cool things with long exposures at night, for example, particularly when you incorporate the lights of passing cars. Here in Vancouver there’s a spot that overlooks the Lions Gate Bridge, which is like long exposure heaven! The Mini 90 has two shutter release buttons, so that you can comfortably shoot either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal). Unlike the previous models we looked at, the Mini 90 actually uses a rechargeable battery, which is definitely better for the environment, but occasionally a bit inconvenient if it runs out while you are shooting. I try and stay one step ahead of battery failure by recharging my batteries well before they run out.
Wider angle instant photos with the Instax Wide 300
The final camera from the Instax range that we’re going to look at today is the Instax Wide 300. The Wide 300 uses a larger film format than the other models – twice as wide in fact, so it’s perfect for group shots, for example. It’s a two-tone, silver and black body, and that’s actually the only colour option. In terms of style, the Wide 300 is unfortunately not in the same league as the Mini 90. You’re not going to carry this camera around to look cool, but rather because you really want to shoot those bigger format photos. The viewfinder on the side is a little small, and although you have a focus dial, the viewfinder won’t actually tell you if you’ve set your focus right. Basically you have to estimate your distance to the subject, set the dial accordingly and hope for the best. The Wide 300 is also a little bit ‘feature light’ compared to the Mini 90, and in particular lacks a self-timer mode. It does have a flash of course, like all of the Mini models, so you’ll have no problem shooting indoors. The Wide 300 takes 4 AA batteries.
As I mentioned earlier, there is also the Instax Share Smartphone Wireless Printer which enables you to print photos directly from your smart device, which is another awesome way to enjoy the magic of instant photography