There’s something special about the combination of permanence and impermanence: the melding of a moment that you can keep forever and one that’s happening just now. The Fujifilm instax line, and the new Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera, are the perfect example of that combination.
While it would be amazing to have professional photographers around for every big moment of your life, it’s impractical. As a result, most of us turn to digital and smartphone cameras to capture all of our everyday (and mundane) moment. Instant cameras take those photos one step further into the “real” world. They provide us with a physical representation of a moment that we loved, with all of the ease of a digital photo but all of the scrapbook-ready qualities of a professional print.
What’s in the box of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11?
In the box of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, you’ll find the camera body itself, along with two batteries, a wrist strap, and two customizable shutter buttons. Instax Mini camera bodies run on two AA batteries, which is both a pro and a con. On one hand, they create more electronic waste, and they can’t be plugged into your nearest device or wall socket. On the other, they last for a long time, and they’re able to be swapped out with the nearest set of generic AA batteries.
The Instax Mini 11 is the same size as the Mini 9. It’s very lightweight and portable, with the same soft edges and campy curves. Even the prints are the same size: 5.3 by 8.4 cm. I’ve always found that the Instax Mini cameras are too large for a pocket, but they fit in most purses — though they certainly wouldn’t be able to fit into a clutch or mini bag. Instead, these mini cameras are great for taking along on day trips and weekend hikes; they’re just the right size for a small backpack or crossbody bag.
On the Mini 11, you’ll notice a built-in flash and selfie camera. These handy additions don’t add any weight, but they make it easier to take photos in low-light areas like empty rooms and backyard hangouts. Notably, Instax cameras don’t come with film or sample film, so you’ll want to make sure you purchase Fujifilm Instax film at the same time. They’re available in a selection of vivid pastels alongside this charcoal grey finish, which are similar to but less punchy than the shades available in the Instax Mini 9.
The Fuji Instax Mini 9 vs Mini 11
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is very, very similar to the Mini 9 that I’ve reviewed for the Best Buy Blog in the past—but it isn’t identical. The brand has made some key updates to the camera in the past three years. Most notably. the accessories that come with the camera have changed. Instead of getting clip-on flash filters to tint your photos (which I was never a fan of), you now get squishy shutter buttons to customize your camera with. They don’t affect your photos at all, but they make it a little easier to push the shutter button.
(Shutter button accessories are also a great way to customize your camera in a non-permanent way, which I love. I feel like they’re very similar to Crocs charms, or Pandora bracelets. Like laptop stickers and enamel pins, they’re easy to custom-order and can be made to be entirely unique to just you.)
The Mini 11 comes with two custom shutter buttons, but I like the glow-in-the-dark one. I could never keep my nighttime stars up on my ceiling as a kid, and I’ve always been a big fan of glow-in-the-dark products as a result! Plus, I like that this particular charm will help your photography subject figure out where to look in dimly-lit rooms.
Focus distance and flash: What else is unique to the Mini 11?
They other big change that Fujifilm has made to their Instax camera between the 9 and the 11 is the camera’s ability to focus at close range. While both devices have a selfie mode and selfie mirror, the 11 has the ability to focus and shoot much closer to its lens. While the Mini 9 begins focusing at 0.6 metres, the Mini 11 focuses from 0.3 to 0.5 metres in Selfie Mode and 0.6 metres and beyond in regular mode.
The change makes a drastic difference. While it wasn’t particularly handy for my own selfies (the one major downside of having very dark hair and fair skin), the 0.3m focus range made it much easier for me to take photos of my favourite subject: my cat. You can’t always get the distance that you seek from your photographic subjects, either due to lack of space or because they follow you around the house like a shadow, and even just 0.3 metres (30 centimetres, or the length of a standard ruler) makes a huge difference.
The biggest difference in Selfie Mode (0.3-0.5m) and regular mode (0.6m onwards) in Instax cameras is not the focus, but the flash compensation. With a standard 60 cm focal range, subjects are blown out and overexposed. However, with a minimum of 30 cm, you get close-up photos that are detailed and evenly exposed.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11’s selfie mode
I’ve always loved the Fujifilm Instax Mini line. Each product is sturdy and whimsical, and produces really vivid, creamy photos. The analogue method used in Fuji’s instant photography, which develops over time like a Polaroid picture, creates a classic effect that’s almost impossible to replicate digitally.
So, I was very happy with the Mini 11. I loved its wallet-sized photos, their sturdy backings, and their creamy photos. As mentioned, I’m now also very enamoured with the 11’s closer focal range. It means that I can take clearer selfies, close-ups, and pet photos than ever before, which is really what I tend to use my Mini cameras for.
I currently have an Instax Mini 9 that I’m very happy with, and I’m not sure that I’d necessarily replace it with the 11. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is certainly better, and produces more evenly exposed photos. However, the 9 isn’t bad by any means. It’s very far from outdated, and produces great results that certainly justify buying the 11 over the 9 if you own neither.
In my opinion, the Instax Square line may be a better option if you already own an Instax 9 and would like to add to your instant camera collection. The SQ1 gives you a similar close focus range, but introduces a fresh aspect ratio. You’ll notice a big difference in the finished photo print when compared to the Mini 9, which you may not notice with the Mini 11.
What makes the Instax Mini the perfect gift
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is portable, trendy, and creates beautiful photos. Each print is long-lasting and truly instant, with a classic bottom border that makes this camera’s prints perfect for collages and pinned-up photo chains. Fujifilm’s instant cameras are an excellent way to get into photography, and create a new format challenges even for expert photographers.
Shop the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 online at Best Buy now.