Fujifilm Instax Mini: Tangible Memories

 
The Fujifilm Mini Instax Series

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Series

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Series gives Natasha Desai a glimpse of an era that she was never a part of. But, are these fun-sized instant cameras relevant today?

Although the Fujifilm Instax Mini series of cameras have been around for a while, it was only recently that the company decided to formally launch them. Targeted at a young, urban demographic and wedding photographers for their fun and instant qualities, I wanted to find out just how well they panned out in real life.

First Impressions
More than anything, the cameras immediately appealed to my retro objects loving side. The Instax cameras offer a fixed focal length, instant prints and a major throwback to the Polaroid era.

I have experienced the waiting for a roll of film to come back from the film lab as a child, but I have been accustomed to digital imaging for most of my adult life. So, trying out four cameras that would give me pictures instantly set my mind whirring with exciting possibilities.

One box of the Instax Mini film contains two packs of 20 credit card sized prints and retails for Rs. 1020.

Instax Mini 8
When I first saw the Mini 8, I was reminded of the toy cameras that I had as a child. It is large, chunky and yellow (and is available in a bunch of other colours). At Rs. 6441, the Mini 8 is the most affordable of the lot. It has five modes—Indoors, Cloudy, Sunny- Slightly Cloudy, Sunny-Bright and Hi-key. The resulting images have soft muted colours, which do not work well if you are shooting a brightly coloured subject. On a particularly cloudy day, I was quite impressed with photos made with the Cloudy mode. There was good amount of detail in the highlights and shadows.

Instax Mini 25
This camera has a mirror on the front, that lets you make really fun selfies, especially when you are in a group. It comes with an attachable close up lens to shoot subjects from 35cm away.

It has the Lighten-Darken controls that adjust the brightness of the picture according to the available light. The Landscape mode gave me some stunning shots of the sky around sunset at the beach. It is far less chunky than the Mini 8 and is available for Rs. 8045.

The Fujifilm Mini Instax Series

Owing to how small the prints are (credit card sized), you need to ensure that the subjects you choose will be visible in that size.

 

Instax Mini 50S Piano Black
This shiny, black camera offers Lighten- Darken controls like the Mini 25 as well as a close-up lens and Landscape and Normal modes. The Piano Black additionally has a self-timer mode that can make two images in succession. I found this ideal for when you are shooting a group selfie and you don’t want your arm sticking out in front of you in the print. I was able to make photographs with good colours during the day and satisfactory low light ones as well. It has a tripod slot and is priced at Rs. 9147.

Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic
The Neo Classic comes in a super appealing retro design that is all the rage right now. It has a bunch of different modes and I liked that the camera gives red eye control and you can switch off the flash in brightly lit situations. The shutter button, on the front of the camera, is shiny and can double up as a selfie mirror. With the Party mode, I got a decently brighter background when indoors with low-light as well. Overall, this camera has to be my favourite, because it gave me more control than the other ones and also feels a lot sturdier. It comes with a rechargeable battery and is predictably the most expensive of the lot, priced at Rs. 11,000.

Creativity and Control with the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Conclusion
I made pictures at weddings, parties and even while just hanging out with friends. The cameras were a lot of fun to use, but from an economic standpoint, how useful are these cameras today?

During analog photography days, using a Polaroid camera was the only way to receive instant prints of your images. In today’s time, when everything is instant, does it really make sense to own an Instax? Once the novelty of the first 20 prints run out, you will realise that it is not very economical to pay Rs. 1020 for 20 exposures.

But then again, these cameras are not for the photography purists. By their design and marketing alone, it is clear that the cameras are targetted at a younger, affluent crowd, who wouldn’t think twice before spending on the prints. The real appeal of these cameras is the fact that the print you hold will be the only one of its kind. And that’s pretty special.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Exposure control, instant prints and creative modes
24/30
Performance
Good colours, decent low light performance
25/30
Build Quality
Plastic bodies that don’t feel very sturdy
15/20
Ergonomics
The shutter release buttons’ placement could be better
12/15
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, several service centres        
4/5
MRP Rs. 6441, Rs. 8045, Rs. 9147, Rs. 11,000.
OVERALL 80%
VALUE FOR MONEY 3.5/5
Who should buy it? Anybody with the budget to spare on a fun imaging product.
Why? Although each print works out to be expensive, it depends on how you perceive the value of that print. It is also an interesting gift to give to a younger person.
Tags: Fujifilm Instax Mini Series, Instax Mini 8, Instax Mini 25, Instax Mini 50S Piano Black, Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, Polaroid era, throwback