I have a lot of Instax cameras. I love the format! The instant gratification of getting a physical picture in less than a minute is so satisfying. However, Fuji seems to make some seriously tone deaf decisions about which Instax cameras they make. This makes purchasing one an unnecessarily difficult decision. I'll explain more in the article below.

TDLR: If you're looking to get an Instax Mini Camera for Christmas:

  • Simple: go for the Mini 11 ($65). It's simple and effective. It has auto-exposure and only one button.
  • Stylish: go for the Mini 40 ($90). Same functions as the Mini 11, but it looks retro, and cool.
  • Feature-Rich: check out the Mini 90 ($150). You'll get features such as double exposure, flash on or off, exposure compensation, and macro mode.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

The newest Fuji Instax camera is the Instax Mini Evo.

It is a dumb idea. But first...let's talk about the features. It has a digital image sensor. First big mistake! The beauty of Instax—and why young people love it—is that it is analog. A physical lens and bellow system opens a shutter for a fraction of a second, and the light that comes in physically exposes the film. This is a magical process that you don't get in the digital world. People are trying to get away from over-digitization, not run towards it. So the first big mistake of the Instax Mini Evo is that it is a digital camera with an Instax printer attached.

The new Instax Mini Evo ($199) - Release date February 2022

Second silly feature on this camera. It has filters. The lens dial includes 10 filters, and there are a further 10 filters in the menu. You could get dozens of cool and interesting Instagram-esque combinations from these filters. But isn't the point of Instax getting away from social-media fakeness? Isn't the point of Instax to snap a moment and time, how it existed, and get an instant print? Maybe I'm wrong here, but most people I know who love instant film, love it because it is not digital. We love instant film because it isn't precise, because it is blurry sometimes, because it is real and tangible and the exact opposite of digital. Nobody cares about the filters.

Instax Photos
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Another issue with the lens and sensor on this camera is the fact that is can never compare to actually exposing light to film. The sensors on Fuji's past Instax-digital hybrids have been lackluster at best. At worst, they suck. If I want digital photos, I'll use my phone or an expensive mirrorless camera (I personally own a Fuji XT-20, and I absolutely love it!, so this is not a dig at Fuji).

Furthermore, when you pair a good digital camera with an Instax printer (SP-2 or SP-3), you get excellent results. Which is why it seems so stupid to slap a crappy digital sensor on an Instax camera. What demographic is clamoring for this camera?

Photo by Alexander Andrews / Unsplash

I bought the Instax Mini LiPlay and I learned my lesson. The sensor on the LiPlay is garbage. It sucks. The features don't save the camera. It is a bad camera, hands down. Don't buy it. I have the SP-2 and SP-3, and these Instax printers are an excellent compromise for those who love digital photography and Instax film. So Fuji, why are you making these bad quality digital Instax cameras?

Photo by Juliana Malta / Unsplash

Instax Camera Reviews

The ratings on Amazon prove my point. Check this out:

You can see here that the LiPlay (although it has great reviews) pales in comparison to the amount of reviews on the Mini 11, which came out around the same time! Not only is the LiPlay more expensive (by between $90 and $130), it also has 20 times less reviews than the Mini 11! That means that 20 times more people bought and reviewed the Mini 11 than the LiPlay!! In short, the LiPlay is a dumb idea, but wait...there's more!

Let's also take a look at the Square format digital versus analog:

Once again, the amount of people reviewing the SQ6 is leaps and bounds beyond those who reviewed the digital SQ20. Actually, there are six times as many reviewers. Not only that, but just like the case of the mini cameras, the digital square camera is $70 more expensive, for an objectively inferior product.

Photo by Christina Hernández / Unsplash

Conclusion / Instax Christmas Wish-List

The Instax Mini Evo (which, as we've established, is a dumb idea) will be $199. It will have a digital sensor and a bunch of Instagram filters. It will be—just like the LiPlay and SQ20 before it—a more expensive and lesser version of a tried and true analog product. If you're looking to get an Instax Mini camera for Christmas:

  • Save over $150 and go for the Mini 11. It's simple and effective. It has auto-exposure and only one button.
  • Or go for the Mini 40 (which is a bit more stylish) instead. Same functions as the Mini 11, but it looks retro, and cool.
  • Need more features? Check out the Mini 90 ($150). You'll get features such as double exposure, flash on or off, exposure compensation, and macro mode.

Analog never dies, and digital just gets more and more played out. So my question is...why Fuji? Just...why?


P.S. the new Stone Gray film design is awesome. So Fuji is still doing some things right in the Instax department.

The new Stone Gray film border design will be released in Feb 2022. It is delicious!

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