2017 is the year of the throwback, and there’s nothing more classic than a Polaroid. I tried out the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 this month to see if it measured up to the instant photos of yore.
What’s in the box of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera comes equipped with an Instax Mini 9 camera, a polka-dotted wrist strap, and a close-up lens cover. Batteries (2 x AA) and Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film packs are sold separately. The camera lens pops out when it’s on, and pushes back into the camera body when to turn it off. A built-in lens cover automatically opens when the camera turns on.
As there is no digital display on this model, I found that a case wasn’t really necessary. The Mini 9, once closed, more or less becomes its own case, although cases are also sold separately. The lens on the Instax Mini 9 twists to select one of five different modes: Hi-key, very sunny, sunny, cloudy, and indoors.
Also very discreetly included in this model is a tiny selfie mirror. It’s a bowed, reflective piece of plastic that I didn’t notice on the camera before reading that it was included, and it’s incredibly helpful for framing a selfie. (Selfies with your friends are, clearly, the primary purpose of instant cameras.)
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is one of the brand’s Mini instant cameras, and one of their most basic models. It’s made from durable, lightweight plastic, and has an automatic shutter speed of 1/60, with a built-in flash.
Fujifilm cameras take Fujifilm’s own film cartridges, which come in packs of 10 or double packs of 20. The film I used to test this camera was their standard portrait orientation/credit card-sized film for their Mini cameras. It features high-speed ISO 800 and a stable emulsion. The emulsion works in 5-40 degree Celsius temperatures, but I felt like it was a little slower around the 5-10 degree range–although that might have just been my expectations showing through.
How the Instax Mini 9 compares to other Instax models
The Mini 9 is similar to the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70, which has a sleeker chrome body. Both models are priced around the same point, and have a 60mm lens. (The 70 focuses at 0.3mm to infinity; the Mini 9 focuses at 0.6m to infinity.) However, the Mini 70 features a self timer, a tripod socket, and is powered by 2 x CR2 lithium batteries, while the Mini 9 has a retro look and different photo settings.
Fujifilm also currently offers the Mini 90 Neo Classic. It’s also similar to the Mini 9, but instead of looking bubbly and retro, it looks a little more vintage. The Mini 90 Neo Classic switches between macro, normal, and landscape modes, with a range of shutter speeds. This model comes at a higher price point, but comes with more features, like brightness adjustment, party and bulb modes, and a double exposure option. The Neo Classic (which has a rechargeable battery) is more like a modern camera despite its instant nature, while the Mini 9 is a better choice for truly instant photos.
A step up from the Neo Classic is the slightly blasphemous Fujifilm Instax SQUARE SQ10 Hybrid Instant Camera, whose sleek body takes square pictures, saves them, and lets you edit them before printing. It has a digital screen as well as a selection wheel, and comes preloaded with filters.
I love how instant Polaroids are, so the SQUARE makes my heart break, a little. (If you get it, I hope you enjoy your purchase–but please, never tell me. I’m not a pretty crier.)
Finally, Fujifilm also currently offers the Fujifilm Instax WIDE 300 Instant Camera. As you may have guessed: its pictures are wide. They’re a landscape format of 10.6 x 8.4″, but the camera itself is a true Instax. It takes two AA batteries, like the Mini 9, but has a vintage look, like the 90 Neo Classic. The WIDE is more customizable than the Instax Mini 9, and has exposure control as well as a focusing ring.
Who the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is great for
If you’re reading this post, you probably already know the answer to this one: Millennials.
Millennials love our instant photos, and honestly? It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Polaroid with film that you got from The Impossible Project or if it’s a Fujifilm Instax that you got on sale. As long as it isn’t an instant digital printer, we love it.
(And if it’s an instant digital printer, we honestly still love it a little bit. But we’ll also totally look at it with a derisive look on our faces, because digital printers lack authenticity.)
The Instax Mini 9 is a great, portable camera for immortalizing moments on the go. I really enjoy that each pack of film only comes with 10 slides, because unlike your digital phone, you have to be a lot more sparing with your photos. Each one becomes a treasured memory, and they’re ready to go up on your wall or your fridge without any further work. The quality of the photos is exactly what you’d expect; each has a great film “look,” with complex depth and a tiny frame.
The Mini 9 is easy to hold and use. I took it on a trip to Jasper and enjoyed the heck out of it. (Guilty: I took no less than four photos of my cat before and after I left. He is infinitely cuter in them than he looks on my phone.) It did a great job of selfies, portraits, and landscapes, although I didn’t notice much of a difference when using the close-up cover. Its lightweight body didn’t make my daypack too much heavier, and its brightly coloured body made it easy to find.
As always, when I take an instant picture, I’m left wishing my camera took the exact same kinds of photos. The bright light of the flash pairs well with the ISO 800 film, giving it that wonderful Polaroid look. Everyone always looks fresher, sharper, and glowier in a Polaroid than they do in real life, and the photos taken with the Mini 9 are no exception.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a great addition to any traveller’s bag, and it makes a cool gift idea for anyone between the ages of 10-100. (Plus, if the recipient loves the gift, you’re set for all future gifts: just get them more film!) I found the Instax to be nicely durable, so it’s safe in little hands; conversely, it’s simple to use, so it’s a great way to encourage your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents to finally pursue their dreams of being a photographer.