There was a time when instant cameras were such a rage. However, they slowly died under the dual attack of digital cameras and social media. The former made it easy to capture and store the photos while the later brought on photo sharing features. They together made the film cameras obsolete. But, fast forward a decade or so to today, and instant cameras are becoming popular again. This attraction is probably generated because of the popularity of retro photo filters on various social media channels. After all, the best way to capture a photo in retro colours is to use a retro camera. Whatever may be the reason, instant cameras are a hot product today and Fujifilm is making some of the best of them. They have released a range of instant cameras with their latest offering being the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 ($62.98). A successor to Instax Mini 8, let us find out everything about Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 in our review:
The Instax Mini 9 follows the same design language as its predecessor, so much so that you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two at first glance. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Fujifilm is following the “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach here and I quite like it. The camera is square shaped with curved edges which make it really easy to hold and capture pictures with. The front is dominated by a big lens which shares the remaining space with the flash, ambient light sensors, and the shutter and the on/off button. The biggest visual difference in Instax Mini 9 is the front mirror which is placed beside the lens opening to view yourself while taking the selfie. It also comes with a detachable macro lens. We will talk more about them later.
The back is pretty minimalistic with a viewfinder at the top right and a hatch covering the inbuilt compartment which houses the film cartridges. There’s nothing much going on the sides with only the top and the right getting some action.
The top has an opening from where the processed photos come out while the right one houses the battery compartment. The camera comes in many different funky colours including Lime Green, Flamingo Pink, Cobalt Blue, Smoky White, and Ice Blue. We have the Lime Green Version here at Beebom. Overall, I really love the look and the feel of the camera. When it comes to design Fujifilm has knocked it out of the park.
The camera is very easy to use. The rounded corners make it very easy to handle. It also comes with a detachable wristband, very handy for someone with slippery hands. The battery and the photo cartridge installation is fairly simple. You just need to open the hatch and insert them. The hatches are very secure yet easily removable. The start button is mechanical with a firm feedback while the capture button is easy to locate owing to the indentation around it. The ambient light sensors help the camera to automatically suggest the exposure modes to be used, which I found to be pretty perfect. All in all, when it comes to usability you will not find a hand held camera which is easier than the Instax Mini 9 to operate.
Performance and Image Quality
For the uninitiated, instant cameras are those cameras which instantly print the photos you take. They contain chemically treated sheets of paper which when exposed to light changes the colour to replicate the image you took. Hence, when you are buying an instant camera, you should keep in mind that pixels don’t count here. What matters the most is the dynamic range, as the photos are pretty small (credit card size), differentiating between the different objects become very important for producing a clear photo. For what it’s supposed to offer, the Instax Mini 9 delivers on its promise.
The ambient light sensors together with the manually adjustable aperture let you take photos which are pretty damn good. The ambient sensors automatically suggest between the different presets you should use (marked with a blinking LED). For the most part, I have found it to be accurate. All you need to do is to rotate the light-ring to the corresponding blinking LED to select the preset. However, if you are not happy with its prediction, you can manually choose the setting using the light ring. There are four main presets you can choose from which are indoors/night (f/12.7), cloudy/shade (f/16), sunny/slightly cloudy (f/22), and sunny/bright (f/32). The aperture size decides the amount of light the camera lets in which you should choose based on the ambient lighting conditions. There’s also a High-key mode, which is to be used if you want to take pictures with an extremely bright background.
As mentioned earlier, the camera comes with a selfie mirror which helps you to adjust the viewfinder while taking a selfie. It also comes with a detachable macro lens which lets you take pictures at short distances (between 35-50 cm). You can use the lens to take a close up selfie or any close up shots for that matter. The picture quality is as expected, it will not blow you away but it still brings a huge improvement over the old Polaroid/instant camera while still keeping the retro feel alive. You will indeed be happy with the results.
The Film Cartridge is basically the heart of the product as it should be. The individual films are similar to the size of a credit card with the picture acquiring an area of 46 mm by 62 mm. The photo sheets are housed inside a very compact plastic cartridge which holds 10 sheets. A twin pack which has two cartridges with 10 sheets each costs around 13 US dollars. The price per cartridge decreases as you increase the number of the cartridge in a bundle. The small cartridge size makes it very easy to carry around. Also, you can choose between different types of cartridges, the basic ones come with a white border but you also get the option to buy cartridges with printed and colourful borders.
If you know what are you getting into while buying this camera you will not find any major shortcoming other than the cost of film cartridges. The cost per photo is something which will stop you from using this camera extensively. Also, the camera doesn’t come with even a single cartridge when you buy it. You will have to buy the cartridges separately even when you are buying a new camera which adds to the cost. Other than that, there is nothing to dislike here. Just remember, with this one you are not capturing a photo, you are capturing a memory.
Should You Buy The Instax Mini 9?
The Instax Mini 9 will charm you as only a few cameras can. It takes you back to the simpler times where taking photos only required you to point and shoot. You don’t have to fiddle with all the settings and what not. You just take the camera and enjoy the experience of using it. Using the camera will bring back long forgotten memories and put a smile on your face. Therein lies the strength of Instax 9 Mini, and it delivers on its promises as advertised. If you can afford it, you will not regret making this purchase. Now, check out some of the photos we clicked with it in the image below.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Review: A Beautiful Camera With Nostalgia
The Instax Mini 9 is a pleasure to use. The quality may not match that of a DSLR, which is understandable, but using it is just pure delight. We at Beebom had a lot of fun using this camera. What you see in the picture above is the team enjoying the experience. If you have cash to spare, you will like owning this one. Lets us know your thoughts about the camera in the comment section below. Also, tell us if you are planning to get one or not.
Buy Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 ($62.98)