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Photography may have gone digital, but there are still a few who remain loyal – or, at least still interested – in taking pictures using the medium of film. After all, this was the way it was before point and shoot cameras, compacts and DSLRs: you could actually touch a photo. instax, just like Polaroid (which still exists today), outputs a self-developing print shortly after emerging from the camera.
The very existence of the instax camera in this day and age brings us to question just exactly what its purpose is. Technology now exists for automatically printing photos stored in smartphones and other cameras. The simple answer is it’s all in the spirit of fun.
From the candy colors of the instax alone, it’s clear to see that having fun with it is one of its goals. Simply taking any of the brightly colored cameras into the street is quite enough to draw attention. It basically looks like a toy but it straddles being one as well as a real camera. While most of the cameras in the instax line remain a similar look and feel, there are a few variations like the instax WIDE 300 and the instax mini 90.
There are two major units in the series: instax mini and instax WIDE. While both of them use film, what’s used for one cannot be used on the other. In other words, each type of cameras uses a specific film. There are reasons for that, the chief being the wide model measures 3.4 x 4.3” (2.4 x 3.9” for the image; and somewhat closer to a 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 standard print) while the mini measures 2.4 x 1.8” (just imagine it being the size of a credit card).
These are the models in the instax lineup:
instax mini 8
– has an automatic brightness detector that informs you of appropriate setting so all you need to do is turn the dial to the correct position. The mini 8 also has a high-key photo feature for taking softer impression photos.
instax mini 9
– offers a selfie mirror for proper framing, close-up lens for shooting up to 35cm and a high-key mode for soft impression photos.
instax mini 25
– with Lighten-Darken Control to adjust color intensity for prints, two shutter buttons for shooting vertical or horizontal, fill-in flash mode that clearly captures both background and subject even in dark rooms, close-up lens, and a self-snap mirror for framing self-shots.
instax mini 70
– comes with a selfie mirror next to the lens so you can check framing, plus the appropriate brightness and shooting distance are also provided when in Selfie Mode. Other features include automatic exposure control, hi-key mode for taking photos with a softer impression, self-timer mode, fill-in flash, and a tripod socket.
instax mini 90
– features a classic look, advanced features such as bulb and double exposures for creative light capture, and new functions such as macro mode and high-performance flash.
instax mini HELLO KITTY
– comes in a Hello Kitty design and is equipped with a mirror for self portraits. It also comes with a close-up lens for taking closer photos of subjects. The high-key photo feature allows softer impression photos to be taken.
instax WIDE 300
– allows you to take wide format photos which helps when in large gatherings. The WIDE model also has close-up lens and buttons for automatic flash, fill-in flash, and exposure compensation. This model also has a tripod socket and focal zoom dial.
The standard film cartridge prints photos with a white border. However, there are packs available with fun borders. And unlike the film rolls of old, you just have to make sure the yellow mark on the cartridge lines up nicely with the yellow tab on the camera itself. But just like the film cameras of old, you still have to shoot one exposure. And similar to the film counterpart of years ago, you can only afford a minimum amount of shots. You can shoot as much as 36 for film, but instax only allows 10. In short, you really have to be extremely selective in the shots you take.
However, being conservative with the photos you take is thrown out the window thanks to the learning curve needed. Put simply, you may consume a whole cartridge just trying to figure things out. However, you will be rewarded for it once you get a hang of things.
The instax camera is a fun piece to carry around with its look, design and capabilities. However, the extent of fun to be had with it is limited to 10 shots – unless you have all the resources to keep reloading once you’ve run out. It may be a good option for immediate sharing given the instantaneous nature of photo printing, but this is best suited for those who can control what they want to snap and actually have the money to buy those cartridges.