Photography / Buying Guide

Everything You Need To Know About Fujifilm instax

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Because this was a title before it was an article, let me just start by saying the only thing you need to know about Fujifilm instax cameras is that they are a fun and easy way to enjoy instant photo prints. Instax, like the famed Polaroid cameras of an earlier generation (which still exist today, thanks to the Impossible Project), pushes out a print that self-develops within a few minutes of its emergence from the camera. In the digital era, there is little in the way of practical uses for this system, but since when does photography have to be practical? Use it to experiment, use it to enjoy good times with friends, at weddings or parties, and use it to show your kids that you can actually touch a photograph. Of course, as soon as I wrote that, I realized there might well be a few instances in business or even in film and photo production where an instant print might still be of use; however, I don’t think instax would be the choice tool for that function. But please do let me know if you use instax for practical applications.



 

Photographs by Juliana Gonzalez


Two possibly surprising facts about instax are that the camera line has been around since 1998, and it is currently the most profitable of all Fujifilm camera systems. Thanks to renewed interest in instant film photography (and film photography in general), Fujifilm is expanding production of the camera line, its film, and accessories in 2016. Also, as mentioned, the Impossible Project has rebranded Polaroid cameras and is producing instant film for old (and new) models, and the Polaroid brand name has made a reappearance on instant cameras, although they are actually Fujifilm-made cameras. Let’s take a look at what’s available in the instax world.

Film

Two film formats are available for instax cameras—instax mini and instax WIDE. The wide and mini cannot be mixed and matched; they are designed for specific camera models. The wide format, which measures 3.4 x 4.3" with an image size of 2.4 x 3.9", fits the current instax WIDE 300 and instax WIDE 210 models. All other instax cameras use the 2.4 x 1.8" instax mini format, as do the Polaroid 300 cameras. Size is another reason these prints are less appropriate for practical applications. The mini print, which is basically the size of a credit card with the white borders included, is too small to reveal much in the way of intricate details, and while the wide is closer in size to “standard” 3 x 5" or 4 x 6" prints, it is still not a preferred method for instant documentation. In addition to the standard white-bordered prints, instax offers prints with playfully designed borders, including the multi-colored rainbow pack. Both formats are housed in disposable black plastic cartridge that contains 10 sheets. The cartridge inserts easily into the back of the camera. 


Fujifilm instax instant film for the mini and the WIDE cameras

Integral film, the kind of instant film used by instax, works because it contains layers of emulsion dye and layers of developing dye sandwiched within its “sheet.” Developing and fixing chemicals are stored in the “sack” of white border on the bottom of the image and when the film is pushed out of the camera the developing process begins. For instax there is no need to peel off the negative image and no shaking or putting it under your arm (for proper temperature) required. Within an ambient temperature range of 41-104°F, just wait about two minutes and your image will appear, although it would be fun to experiment with different development temperatures.

Both sizes of film are daylight balanced, ISO 800 with a 10 lines/mm resolving power, and can expose indoor and outdoor shots equally well. However, if you are expecting the saturation of a Velvia film stock or the dynamic range of the X-trans sensor, you’re in the wrong article. Given the minimal amount of exposure, aperture, and flash control offered by the cameras, be prepared for (and excited about) lo-fi image quality with a glossy surface. With minimal experience, the right light on bold color and proper distance to subject, you can expect pleasing results.

The instax mini Lineup

Currently, B&H offers four distinct instax mini models, three of which are available with color choices. In order of their complexity, from very simple to quite simple, there is the instax mini 8, with a range of candy-color options, the instax mini 25, the instax mini 70 and the instax mini 90 Neo Classic.

Based on ease of use and color options, it would seem that the mini 8 is earmarked for the kiddies, although it does offer a nice black model for the “serious” shooter. There is little one needs to know about the camera, as it offers only the most basic adjustments. It features a fixed 1/60-second shutter speed, a built-in flash that always fires and, like all minis, it has a 60mm f/12.7 lens. On the side of the lens there are four aperture settings, which correspond to Indoor light, Cloudy/Shade, Partly Sunny, or Bright Sun. There is also a “high key” mode setting. Figuring out which to use is pretty straightforward, although there will be a margin of error. When I shot on a sunny but cloudy day the first time, it became clear that the proper exposure should have been Cloudy/Shade. Fortunately, you can immediately see the result of your exposure choice and adjust accordingly.


Fujifilm instax mini 8 Instant Film Camera
 

One aspect of the Fujifilm design, compared to Polaroid, is that the power source for the camera and film is in the camera and not the film pack. The mini 8 uses two AA batteries, whereas the mini 25 and mini 70 use CR2 batteries, and the mini 90 uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The instax mini 25 is slightly smaller than the mini 8, uses two CR2 lithium batteries, and features more control over exposure, including auto-variable shutter speed, exposure compensation, flash control, and a motor-driven close-up lens setting. It also has a small mirror next to the lens for easier composition of selfies.


Fujifilm instax mini 25 Instant Film Camera
 

The instax mini 70 has a fully retractable lens and is the most compact of available models, even slightly resembling familiar point-and-shoot digital camera form factors and colors. It is marketed as ideal for selfies and also provides a mirror next to the lens. It features a Selfie Mode, which automatically sets appropriate brightness and focus distance. A self-timer mode and tripod socket are also featured. Auto shutter speed varies from ½- to 1/400-second. Focusing options are more advanced on the mini 70, with three distinct modes including a “macro” mode that focuses as close as 11.8". An LCD screen displays the exposure count and shooting mode.


Fujifilm instax mini 70 Instant Film Camera
 

The instax mini 90 Neo Classic is available in black or brown and has a handsome retro design and two shutter buttons for convenient shooting in both horizontal and vertical positions. It, too, has a retractable lens design, but is the only mini to use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. All instax minis have a 0.37x optical viewfinder, but the mini 90 has parallax adjustment for macro shooting. Six shooting modes are provided, including bulb mode for up to 10-second exposures and a double-exposure mode. Modes are changed by rotating the dial around the lens or with the button and LCD on the camera’s back. Its advanced flash enables better lighting for its various modes and its LCD and button controls are more familiar to anyone used to a digital camera. Three focusing modes, including macro, are the same as on the mini 70.


Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Camera
 

The instax WIDE Lineup

Both wide format instax models feature a 95mm f/14 lens, the 0.37x optical viewfinder, a built-in flash, a close-up lens adapter, and are powered by 4x AA batteries. The instax WIDE 210 Instant Film Camera is the more basic of the wide format instax and has a compact, stylish build. It enables exposure–compensation control to lighten or darken the image and motor-driven, two-range switching focus range with a minimum 2.9' focus distance. Using the included close-focus adapter reduces the minimum focus distance to 15".


Fujifilm instax 210 Instant Film Camera
 

The instax WIDE 300 Instant Film Camera is shaped like a DSLR with a large handgrip, and the shutter button and power lever ergonomically located on top of that grip. It also uses a ring around the lens to control its zone-focus system. The two motor-driven focus modes are 3.0-9.8' and 9.8' to infinity. Shutter speeds run from 1/64- to 1/200-seconds and exposure control can be set to automatic or adjusted with +/-2 exposure compensation control. The LCD screen displays the exposure counter (number of shots remaining), Lighten-Darken control, Fill-in Flash Mode and the WIDE 300 also comes with a close-up lens adapter.


Fujifilm INSTAX Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
 

Loading and Shooting the instax Cameras

Loading film into the instax cameras is about as easy as it gets. No sprockets or spools, no pick-ups or release buttons. Just open the camera back and place the pre-loaded black film cartridge into the camera. Well, there is one trick—make sure the yellow tab marked on the corner of the film cartridge is aligned with the yellow tab mark in the camera’s chamber. When the film cartridge is in place, not askew, close the film chamber door and shoot one exposure to remove the plastic film cover, which is ejected from the film slot the same way as the film. After the film cover is ejected, the counter will read 10 and count down after each exposure until you are out of film and need to reload. Remember, it’s best not to open the back of a camera with film in it, but with instax, even that is forgiven. I opened the back, even touched the film cartridge where it indicates, “No fingers go here” and nothing adverse happened. [Editor’s note: Professional photographer on closed circuit. Do not attempt.]

Shooting with instax is, by design, very simple. Yes, certain models give you some control over exposure, flash, and focal range, but the basic idea is point and shoot. As mentioned above, it will take you one pack of film to figure the proper exposure settings, which are controlled in broad strokes no matter the camera model. If you are only accustomed to digital photography and film is a new expense, well, unfortunately, the best way to get to know the capability of an instax is trial and error. Close focus is a welcome mode on some camera models that I encourage you to try. Keep in mind that the viewfinder is not showing exactly what the lens frames, but the difference will not ruin the experience. Focus range is different for the various models, but a good rule of thumb is that for best focus, exposure, and flash illumination, your main subject should be 2-8' from you, and bold colors work well. One caveat is that, while some of the models are a bit heartier than the others, they are all made from plastic and will break if dropped. 



Photograph by Juliana Gonzalez
 

Accessories

Perhaps the most interesting instax accessory is not even for the camera, per se, but a portable printer that creates instax prints from smartphone images. The instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-1 works through the free Fujifilm instax SHARE App and enables multiple copies of images, template changes, black-and-white and sepia adjustments, and social network sharing.

Fujifilm produces custom color cases to match the shape and color of your mini 8. Called the Groovy Case, this faux leather case holds your camera vertically with the lens fitting in a nifty custom-made groove. There are several bags available for carrying your Fujifilm instax cameras, including one to please the little Lebowskis—the Fujifilm Bowler bag, with its dual-zipper opening, shoulder strap, and sturdy handle. Skutr also makes a cool bag for the mini 8 with a “puffy jacket” design and separate compartment for film. The Fujifilm SNT084 Hard Case for Fujifilm instax mini 7S offers the protection of a hard plastic shell. Nifty and Skutr also offer several variations on photo album books to display your prints.


Fujifilm Groovy Case for instax mini 8 Camera
 

Both Fujifilm and Holga market a set of filters for instax. There is also the Fujifilm instax mini 7S Close-Up Lens with selfie mirror, and Holga makes fisheye, macro, and telephoto/wide adapter lens kits, as well. Check for compatibility with your instax model.

The Wrap-Up

However you choose to augment your instax, these cameras provide a nice combination of the pleasures of analog and smartphone photography, simultaneously fostering a more disciplined and a more lighthearted approach to the medium. Because you are limited by a finite number of exposures per pack and by optical capability, you need to concentrate your expertise before you just shoot away, but you are still provided with the almost immediate feedback and quench that digital photography bestows. As a bonus, you have the analog share-ability factor, better than that of a smartphone because it’s physical. And you can always scan and Photoshop your prints too!

Unlike some other instant camera options, the instax uses a relatively fast film, has few settings and no post-exposure effort; the whole process is quick and painless. As with any style of photography, one can approach it seriously or casually but, to me, the instax system is one to approach without anxiety, to embrace your mistakes, enjoy the experience and welcome a catch-and-release policy—gift the portraits to friends and family, exchange them like trading cards and display your snaps for all to see, perchance in stacks.


Photograph by John R. Harris

122 Comments

I took a picture earlier with the instax mini 8 but it didnt develop so my question is do I have to go get the files developed after I take the picture or will it develop on its own because it's been more than 10 min and it still hasn't shown the pic

Never mind I got it to work 😉 it's great!!

Hi may I ask there is instax mini 9 now and is it the same film with the mini 8 right? and which one do you think is better, i want to buy some but im a bit confused. thankyou!

Hi Fatty - 

Both cameras use the same Fujifilm instax mini Instant Film.  The only change to the  Mini 9 camera itself is the addition of a selfie mirror on the front of the lens and the paint job.  

Hello, I'm planning to buy a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 to take pictures. Do you have an estimated price range that these cameras could be at?

Hi Emily -

 Please click on the link below to view all of our products and prices relating to the Fujifilm instax mini 8 camera:

Fujifilm instax mini 8 Instant Film Camera 

Hi

Unfortunately my old instax 210 stopped working so I bought a new instax 300 to replace it. The film in my old 210 still has 6 exposures left - do you know if I can take the film out and use it my new 300 or will it be ruined?

thanks

Hi Jen - 

You may be able to salvage the started film cartridge if you work in total darkness. Work under a blanket in a dark closet.

What battery is used in Fujifilm Mini Instax 8?

The Fujifilm instax mini 8 Instant Film Camera will use two AA batteries.

Hi! I'm planning to buy used Wide 210, and I just need your opinion that is it worth to buy the used Wide 210 ? or should I bought the new one ? and is it this camera need to service ? because this is my first time to use this kind of camera.

If the price difference isn't too great, I would just go with the New copy, you'll at least get a full US warranty from Fuji this way in the off chance you have any issues. 

Hi, I bought an instax wide 300 about two weeks ago. And it was fine at first, but now some of the pictures come out white, I turn it off and turn it back on and take a picture and it comes out blurry what do you think it might be ? 

Also, can you help me out with the light & dark settings ? What setting to use for inside a house, and what setting to use when outside ? 

Thankyou 

The light / dark setting will adjust your exposure. You would want the image to be lighter when shooting in dark conditions, and darker when shooting in very bright outdoor sunlight to prevent everything getting washed out. 

If the cameras is not exposing properly at all, I would change the batteries and see if that helps at all. Also adjusting the light and dark for the conditions you are in, and using the flash for fill light to speed up the exposure could also help. 

Thankyou so much that was very helpful ! Another question my film is messing up, for example It said I had 3 pictures left and nothing came out there was nomore film, is that normal? Or what do you think it could be ?

No, that should not be normal occurrence. My only though would be that maybe the film may not have been fully loaded properly. If the issue persists, I would recommended reaching out to Fuji directly for further troubleshooting. 

Hi! I'm planning to buy the Mini 70, I need an answer for my question if you don't mind.

can you look at the picture first before you develop the picture to look if it looks good or it will just develop the picture itself? if you know what I mean. Thank you in advance!

AmiraMin....  This is not a digital camera and there is no monitor to view the image before or after you shoot, so the answer would be no, once you shoot the photo, the developing process starts and your photo is ejected from the camera.  However, there is a viewfinder so you can look through that to frame your image prior to shooting.  Enjoy

My friend accidentally opened the back of the camera, two films were wasted. I forgot how many films were left that time because I was not the only one using it and when I took a picture there was no film left, with me not knowing. So I'm worried if I broke my instax 90 with taking a photo with no film inside the camera.

I recently purchased an instax wide 300 but its not turning on ive tried everything

Sorry to hear you are having this issue. If using a fresh set of batteries and the camera still doesn't turn on I would contact our Customer Service to see what options are available to you. 
To Call: 800.221.5743
Email: cs@bhphotovideo.com

Can I use the WIDE film on the Mini 8 camera?

No, Instax wide film is too large. It is specifically for use with Instax Wide cameras.

INSTAX MINI 8,

JUST BOUHGT THE CAMERA                      {Colour n Picture taking problem,}

what mode should i use for a bright place to take pictures,the sensor shows the light at the sunny mode [beside HI-KEY].But most of the pictures are dark.should i use the [HI-KEY] mode?And i shot the picture by looking at the small lense [TOP AT THE RIGHT]when i shot the picture,the picture was not at the center.my mom was angry because the film is wasted and its quite expensive to get another one.

SHOULD I BUY A SELFIE LENSE FOR THE CAMERA? BECAUSE IM A BIG FAN TO SELFIE. DOES THE SELFIE LENSE REALLY HELPS AND WORK?

yup...I have the same problem with my mini 8...what should i do as a beginner...

Using the cloudy, or indoor icon for shooting will help, also using the flash, will help to more properly expose images in darker areas. using the Hi-Key modes is specifically for shooting in very bright light, and will tend to make the images darker. The viewfinder is off to the right side and will take a bit of practice get the images centered, that is unfortunately the nature of any instant camera, it will not operate the same way as an SLR. 

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S Close-Up Lens is designed specifically for the 7S and will unfortunately not be compatible with the Mini 8 Instax.

Daughter has the instax 300 

threw away the cartridge thinking film comes with new one each time like the olden days. Well we were wrong and can't for the life of us find a replacement cartridge. Anybody else have this happen and knew where to get a new one? Thanks 

For this, your best option would be to contact Fujifilm:

Fujifilm

Tel: 800-800-3854

Website http://www.fujifilmusa.com/

The pictures come out yellow. We have a mini8.  Why. 

There could be a variety of reasons from expired film to not enough light to create a proper exposure, to batteries in the camera running low. If this is happening over multiple packs of film, I would email askbh@bhphoto.com so that we may look further into the issues you are experiencing.  

if I am traveling should I keep the films in the suitcase or bring it on as carry on and ask them to have them hand check it instead of the x-ray?

Hi Shay - 

Keep the film in your carry-on bags and have security manually check your carry-on luggage. You might also want to consider using a film guard bag:

Domke 711-15B overview

Designed to protect unprocessed film from harmful X-rays during airport security and customs checks. Lead-lined bags also protect other sensitive media from the low-dosage X-ray machines used in airports around the world. Without FilmGuard, unprocessed film can become fogged or streaked. Use FilmGuard in carry-on luggage, because checked luggage is exposed to high-dosage X-rays that FilmGuard cannot protect against.

FilmGuard bags were tested for effectiveness by InVision Technologies, Inc., manufacturers of the only Federal Aviation Administration-approved checked-luggage scanning system. Films with up to ISO 800 speeds were tested. The extensive tests showed that the FilmGuard design will protect film and disks from the low-dosage x-ray units used to check carry-on luggage. (The tests also showed that the amount of lead needed to protect film from high-dosage x-ray units would make the bags too heavy to be practical.)

Triple-layer construction also keeps dust and moisture out: lead-impregnated vinyl sheet sandwiched between an outer shell of ballistic nylon and interior lining of smooth lining. Available in three sizes, in black only.

Thanks you! And if I can't buy the film guard, because I'm leaving tomorrow will it work if I just ask them to hand check the film?

I got an instax mini 90 the other day and, when I first loaded up the film, I accidentally allowed some dust to get into the lense. Because of this, when I take photos these black lines appear on the photo. I was wondering if it would be best to either leave the camera and clean it when the film is finished or, if it would be ok to open the back of the camera and take out the film in a dark room, to avoid exposing the film already in there, to clean the lense so that the photos I take are the best I can make them.

As long as you open up the back in a completely dark room, there wouldn’t be a risk of exposing any film. If you find that the photos you are taking are severely impacted by the dust in the camera, then you might want to unload the film and clean the camera. Otherwise, if it’s only a minor impact on your photos, you might wait to clean out the camera until you finish the pack.

I was wondering if a Fuji Film Instax mini 8 can fit into a Polaroid Pic300 instant film case? 

This would depend on the case. Though, if it is a fitted case for the Polaroid 300, I don’t know that the case would fit the Fujifilm mini 8.

I have an instax mini 8 camera was wondaring can I use two brand new AA Duracell batteries for it beacause that's all I buy because they last longer?

Hi Kaleigh - 

Certainly.  For really extended battery life consider these batteries:

Being optimized for long lifetimes in modern high-tech electronic devices makes this 2-pack of Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries from Energizer a great choice for powering items such as cameras, GPS, wireless controllers, and more. It weighs about 1/3 less than equivalent alkaline batteries and is able to hold power for up to 20 years when in storage. It also performs well in a wide range of temperatures, from -40 to 140°F. Additionally, it has a leakproof construction that will keep your devices safe.

The pictures made by Juliana Gonzalez, which Instax camera was used?

Do the cameras last foerever if you keep replacing the film? 

Hey

I was wondering how can we focus on an object with the instax mini 8.

I have one and I was clicking a picture of a picture printed in a paper, it came out all blurry and faded.

How close were you to the paper? A possible reason for the photo being blurry would be if you were too close to the paper. The Instax mini 8 has a minimum focus distance of roughly 2 feet (0.6 m). If you were closer than that, the camera would not be able to achieve focus on the subject. You can’t adjust the focus with the mini 8. The camera has a lens with fixed focus.

i have an instax mini 8 for 2 months now and the button you click for taking pictures wont be clicked. i tried changing the batteries (AA 1.5 V LR6 batteries) but it still cant be clicked. the red light shows up and sometimes doesnt, the counter of the remaining films also trips sometimes.

hey i have the same problem too. it doesnt show any lights. it wont snap when i click the button. i'm so frustrated :( ive tried changing the batteries. it doesnt show any differences. what should i do?

hey does the batteries finish if im not using the camera?

The batteries will not be spent unless the camera is on.

Hi so i have the rasberry instax mini 8 and was wondering if you could zoom in

Nope, you can't

Hi
I ordered the raspberry minni and today i git my order i followed the instruction as given but still its not clicking any pictures

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