Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera review-5

Printing memories in real-time provides a unique sense of satisfaction. It’s easy to take beautiful photos with your smartphone or camera, but instant cameras like the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 offer something special.

If you’re anything like me, you take dozens of digital photos a week—maybe even hundreds, if something notable is happening. The volume that you can capture digital images at provides plenty of opportunities to remember special moments, but because it’s so easy to take photos (and, perhaps, too many photos), each one gets a little harder to remember. With an instant camera like the Instax Square, you have just ten slides of film per cartridge, and each one is ready to be pinned to your wall or fridge as soon as you take it.

Instead of dealing in volume, instant cameras offer something else: increased memorability. They help turn a moment into an event, and they’re a great way to really mark an occasion—without the time and expense of a professional photoshoot. Plus, without the ability to filter or edit images before you print them, the SQ1 helps you stay in the moment even as you’re capturing it. That’s why it’s so perfect for saving those joyful moments in your life.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera review-6

What’s in the box of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1?

In the box of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1, you’ll find the camera itself, along with an instruction manual and warranty package. The SQ1’s Chalk White finish leans a little pink under most lights, but every now and again, it looks almost yellow. (Either way, the matte finish and punchy lines of the camera are wonderfully designed.) You can also get the SQ1 in Glacier Blue.

You’ll also find a wrist strap, as well as two CR2 batteries to power the camera. CR2s are a little bit of a hassle as they’re harder to find than, say, a micro USB charging cable or a set of AAA batteries; however, Fujifilm estimates that you’ll be able to take 300 photos on a single set of CR2s, which is a pretty robust lifespan.

This Fujifilm Instax Square comes with an integrated lens cap (twist to use), a built-in flash, and a selfie mode mirror. I love Fujifilm’s inclusion of their selfie mirror on every Instax camera—it just seems so smart! The mirror is so low-tech, but it works like a charm to help you frame every photo you take. It does not come with Instax Square film, which you’ll need to purchase separately.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera review-2

What makes the Instax Square SQ1 unique?

What makes the Instax Square SQ1 stand out for me is its built-in selfie mode. Like most millennials, I mainly use my Instax cameras for selfies—primarily when hanging out with friends. The selfie mode and selfie mirror on every Instax model makes it easy to take a group shot of a few people without leaving anyone out. It extends the lens for photos as close as 35cm, and is optimized up to 50cm.

There’s just something about the SQ1’s selfie mode that feels very different from the one included on other Instax cameras. I’ve tested and reviewed a number of different models, but I’ve never had a close-up shot come out so clearly before! I noticed a huge difference in the clarity of each of my selfie mode shots when compared to similar non-selfie photos taken right before or right after. My best guess would be that the camera’s selfie mode adjusts the exposure of each shot a little differently, and fires the shutter just a little faster—so you get a slightly darker, crisper result.

Whatever the difference may be, it works like a charm. I’m even considering upgrading my personal Instax to an SQ1!

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera comparison

Fujifilm Instax quality in every line

There are plenty of Fujifilm Instax instant cameras on the market, and even more instant cameras in general. My purchasing advice for friends, family, and readers tends to be pretty forgiving when it comes to modern instant cameras: no matter which model you buy, you’ll likely be very happy with the result. The basic point-and-shoot nature of instant cameras is hard to get wrong, and as far as Instax film goes, you know that you’re always going to get the same rich, creamy, high-contrast results.

That being said, there are some key differences between Instax models. The SQ1 prints in Instax Square format, which is 2.4 by 2.4 inches plus a white or black border. That makes it larger than portrait-style Instax film, and smaller than a classic Polaroid photo. Each photo sheet costs about a dollar (sold in packs of 10 or double-packs of 20), which is reasonable when you compare analog instant film overall. Instax photos are also extremely durable—I keep an Instax of my friends and I in my purse right next to my keys, and despite the fact that it’s been in there since 2018, the photo still looks great.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera vs portrait lens
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 selfie mode capture (right) vs Sony a6000 capture from the same spot (left).
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 camera selfie mode
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 non-selfie mode (left) vs selfie mode (right), taken at arm’s length. Note the sharper focus and preservation of whites and highlights in the selfie mode photograph.

Clarity and focus in the Instax SQ1

The Instax Square SQ1 is Fujifilm’s current flagship square-format instant camera. It follows in the footsteps of the SQ6 and the SQ20. The SQ1 has significantly fewer features than either the SQ6 or the SQ20, and surprisingly, I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so great. Shooting with the SQ1 is really easy: it has a lens that’s roughly equivalent to a 28mm full-frame lens, with an f-stop of f/12.6, a shutter speed of 1/2 to 1/400th of a second, and a forced flash. There aren’t any extras, filters, or white balance settings on top of that: you can shoot in selfie mode or not in selfie mode, but that’s it.

The result, at least in my experience, was clearer, higher-quality photos that were faster and easier to take. You lose the white balance settings and filters of the SQ6, as well as the click-wheel back and digital screen of the SQ20—but the trade-off is worth it. It brings back the instant experience that you get from cameras like the Fujifilm Instax Mini, in the larger format of square prints.

Paired with the improved image quality of the SQ1’s selfie mode, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 is an easy purchase to make. It makes a great gift for yourself or for someone else, and is perfect for capturing moments on the go.

Shop the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 online at Best Buy today. 

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at thenotice.net, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.