Last updated April 12, 2018
An Instant Camera can be really fun! You HAVE to experience it to believe it. I didn’t believe it myself, here’s the story of what made me totally changed my mind:
As someone who’s taken literally millions of photos as a Wedding Photographer for the last 8 years (www.dKweddings.net), I cringed when I saw my brother-in-law proudly take out his brand new Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera. It retails for $179.99, and is on sale at Amazon right now for about $120. This makes no sense to me, for this price, he could have gotten Amazon’s most popular Point-and-shoot digital camera: Sony W800/S 20.1 MP Digital Camera for only $113.
Not only is the digital camera cheaper, but with the instant film camera, you have to pay a hefty price for film. We’re talking about $0.50 per photo, or even over a $1.00 a photo if you want classic monochrome prints! Compare that to the cheap digital camera; yes, you have to buy a memory card for a digital camera, but you can get a 32GB SanDisk SD card for under $13 which can hold around 2000 photos, AND it is reusable!
How practical is Instant Film Camera over the Digital camera? Welp, with the digital camera we’re talking super high resolution images that can be instantly loaded on the computer, archived forever, shared with family and friends “instantly” over the internet. Compared to the Instant Film photo which is a single tiny print, that is low resolution and can’t be loaded on the computer… what good is that?
So from a cost and practical perspective, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera made absolutely no sense at all. So why was my brother-in-law so excited about this camera? Heck, why does Amazon show over 1200 reviews with a 4.5+ average rating!? I was confused so I watched as my Brother-in-Law whip out the camera and take photos of our family and friends.
There’s something magical and very special about the Instant Film Camera. Everyone was excited about the camera because they could see the photo right away. Even folks who are normally camera shy were anxious to get their photos snapped by the Instant Film Camera. Kids loved it too!
Then my Brother-in-law turned around and wanted to snap a photo of me and another in-law…. At that moment I suddenly got excited, but I wasn’t sure why. I posed for the photo and made the biggest simile I could make. As the photo came out of the camera it was still developing, it was a thrilling experience watching the photo develop right in front of my eyes. I did it, I was shaking it [the photo] like a “polaroid picture”. About 1 minute later the awesome image appears:
Ahhh…. “I GET IT!” I finally understood the purpose of this camera! It’s the EXPERIENCE that make the camera so great. And that experience opens the door to great photo opportunities; people are enticed by the experience and moments/memories are created!
Alright, now I’m curious, what technical features does this camera have? What are the limits? Hahaha, should I buy one too? I have way too many cameras, but this is different… The difference was very tangible, I was hooked!
- Powerful flash: With 3 options: on, off, or red-eye reduction mode.
- Macro Mode: so you can take close photos of smaller objects
- Bulb Mode: Let’s you drag the shutter to create some interesting effect like a night city scene with light streaks generated from the car lights.
- Double Exposure: capture two scenes and let them overlay on top of each other. If you are creative, you can capture some awesome photos. Be warned, this is not something that is easy to get right, takes lot of practice.
- Party Mode: Allows you to capture more of the background detail in a low light situations.
- Kids Mode: Helps you capture fast moving subjects with minimal blur.
- Brightness Control: Let’s you play with the exposure (aka brightness) of the photo. You can make the photo “brighter” or “darker” than normal to get an interesting style/effect. This is fun to use, but tricky and requires some luck since you based your adjustments on top of what the camera would “automatically” expose.
- Timer Mode: It’s got a Timer mode and a Timer Mode x2, so you can take two photos one for yourself and one for your friend!
- The front shutter button has a mirror finish, so it works wonderfully to frame your selfies!
- There is a Tripod Mount on the camera, great for Bulb Exposures.
- Photos take about 1 minute to develop.
The PROs of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera:
- Exciting to use: People are drawn to it, and want you to take their photo. Creating the experience, memory, and moment all together!
- Easy to use: There’s not a lot of settings, it’s a “point and shoot” camera, so leaving it on auto and pressing the shutter button is all you need to get it to work.
- Not easy to get great looking photos, but that’s the rewarding part: Using this camera is like playing a stupidly challenging game, ie Flappy Birds. Taking a perfect photo requires you to understand the camera well, understanding lighting, and have a little bit of luck (camera is auto mode). But when you get a great photo, it is very rewarding and makes the effort totally worth it.
- The flash is very strong, this could be a good thing and a bad thing. If you are about 5-8 feet away from your subject, it seems to work best. Too close and the flash will blow out the photo; too far and it won’t be bright enough.
- The rechargeable Li-ion Battery can take ~100 photo before you need to recharge it.
- Camera Body Color Options: you got two options Silver/Black or Silver/Brown. I prefer the Silver/Brown because it enhances the Neo Classic look of the camera, both cameras do look nice.
- Although the body is made of all plastic, it’s relatively sturdy; I haven’t dropped one yet, but Amazon reviewers claims it has been dropped many times and still works well.
The CONs of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera:
- The shutter is laggy, very laggy. Once you hit shutter butter, it takes a short moment before the photo is actually taken. Compared to modern-day digital cameras and cell phones, we are used to “an instant capture” the moment you hit the shutter button. This shutter lag will cause a lot of “action” moments to be missed.
- The film is expensive, so each time you take a photo you have to make it count; if you have to retake a photo, you’ve just wasted ~$1.00.
- Highlight details are often loss, it can’t capture high dynamic range. Most often the details in the bright areas are loss. Example: if you have one person in the shade and the other person in the sun. The person in the sun will almost be all white with very little details.
- In general, it doesn’t take photo well in low light environments.
- The camera body is made of all plastic, so it does feel cheap.
- There is a known problem with the camera, you may running into an “E” error code; if you do, simply contact Fujifilm customer service and they should be able to help you out with a replacement camera.