Instant cameras, also known as Polaroid cameras, are in vogue again. Perhaps because nearly everyone today carries a smartphone with a very capable digital camera, more and more people each year yearn for the magic of analog photography.
Instant cameras such as the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 force you to think twice before you press the shutter button because you can’t simply go back and delete a bad picture. As such, they turn you into a more careful observer and make you notice small details you would most likely miss otherwise.
The market with instant cameras is booming, and consumers can now choose from more models than they could during the era of the original Polaroid camera. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, a very popular instant camera available in five attractive colors, and we also list best 7 alternatives that you should consider as well.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Review
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the most popular instant camera from Fujifilm and a successor to the Instax Mini 8. Available in five vibrant pastel colors (Cobalt Blue, Ice Blue, Flamingo Pink, Lime Green, and Smoky White), the Instax Mini 9 is perfect for someone who would like to experience the lost magic of analog photography without spending too much money and having to learn how to develop analog film.
How to Use Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
- To use the camera, you simply press the button beside the lens to turn it on
- Adjust the brightness adjustment dial to the lit position, and press the shutter button to obtain pictures instantly.
- You can play with the brightness adjustment dial to take pictures with a softer impression, and a built-in selfie mirror is there to help you keep your shots in the frame.
The Instax Mini 9 also makes for an excellent gift, especially if you add a few packs of Instax Mini film, which ensures clear reproduction, vivid colors, and natural skin tones. You can choose from traditional color film, black and white film, and several different films with special frame design.
Pros: Very easy to use. Available in five beautiful colors. Selfie mirror to help you keep your shots in the frame. A wide range of Instax Films available for you to choose from.
Cons: Can’t turn off the flash. If there’s one thing we don’t like about the Instax Mini 9, it’s the fact that its flash always fires. Fujifilm probably wanted to keep the camera as simple as possible, but it’s annoying not to have the option to turn it off for outdoor shots and pictures of pets and babies.
Top 7 Best Alternatives to Fujifilm Instax
The Lomography Lomo’Instant Sanremo camera sports a chic retro design that’s guaranteed to make every hipster fall in love with it. It has three shooting modes: flash-on auto, flash-on manual, and flash-off manual. The modes are pretty self-explanatory. The two manual modes are there to let you experiment with different exposure settings, while the auto mode uses a sensor on the flash to detect the brightness and automatically set the correct exposure settings.
With a small mirror to the left of the lens, your selfies will always be framed currently, and you can give them an artistic flair thanks to color flash filters.
Pros: Built-in selfie mirror. Auto and manual shooting modes available. Promotes creativity with color flash filters.
Cons: As much as we like the retro design of the Sanremo, the camera itself is bulky and a little flimsy.
An instant wide-angle camera such as the Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide is perfect for anyone who’s interested in street photography, landscape photography, or just photography in general. The Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide is compatible several lens attachments that let you see the world from multiple perspectives through the camera’s viewfinder, including a wide-angle lens attachment, a close-up lens attachment, and a wide splitzer, which lets you split your instant shots into “pies” of many sizes.
Just like the Lomography Lomo’Instant Sanremo, the Lomo’Instant Wide has multiple shooting modes, so you can explore your creative side to your heart’s content. The camera runs on four AA batteries, which are not included with the camera.
Pros: Compatible with several lens attachments that make the camera extremely versatile.
Cons: Batteries are not included with the camera.
Instant cameras have always been about ease of use and instant results. The people who like them understand that photography is about more than exposure settings. As Peter Adams puts it, “Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” With this in mind, an instant camera such as the Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat makes perfect sense, giving you only the bare minimum of control to keep you focused on what really matters—your subject and your relationship with it.
The Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat has two modes: auto and bulb. In auto mode, the shutter speed is adjusted automatically to suit your surroundings. In bulb mode, you can get up to 30 seconds’ exposure by holding the shutter button. The camera also has an automatic electronic flash and supports interchangeable color flash gels, which let you give your pictures a creative tint.
Pros: Could hardly be any simpler to use. Support for long exposure. Automatic flash with support for interchangeable color flash gels.
Cons: More expensive film.
The Impossible I-1 Instant Film Camera is a striking instant camera with Bluetooth connectivity and an integrated smartphone app. It’s perfect for analog enthusiasts who are not afraid of modern technology and welcome every opportunity to use it for creative purposes.
The camera has LEDs around the lens, allowing you to take striking portrait shots without any extra equipment. The I-1 smartphone app unlocks a treasure-trove full of creative possibilities. You can, for example, create light paintings, take photos at the clap of your hands using sound triggers, and much more.
Pros: Quirky design. Bluetooth connectivity. 12 LED ring flash.
Cons: Large and bulky.
The famous manufacturer of premium cameras and lenses has released an instant camera for photographers who demand excellent picture quality. The Leica Sofort costs nearly $300, and you can get it in white, black, orange, and mint. With just a few buttons on the back and a dedicated shutter button on the top, the Leica Sofort is very easy to use yet suitable for every occasion. Its 60 mm f/12.7 lens with 3-zone manual focus system is a joy to use and copes well with less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
The camera accepts the Instax Mini instant film, which is the same film the Instax Mini 9 from Fujifilm accepts. Because the two cameras use the same film, they’re capable of producing very similar pictures, but the Leica Sofort looks and feels much more professional than the Instax Mini 9.
Pros: High-quality lens. Professional look and feel. Easy to use. Reliable 3-zone manual focus system.
The MiNT SLR670-S is a stunning instant camera with manual controls, allowing you to experiment with long exposure times, low-light photography, and more. There are 16 different exposure settings that you can instantly access using the exposure dial. For example, Auto 600 cracks up ISO sensitivity for indoor shooting while preserving colors and ensuring sharp image.
We like the hefty feel of the camera, but its large size makes it awkward to carry around. You can, however, fold the camera when you want to put it in your bag or purse. If you like the design of the MiNT SLR670-S but don’t care about its manual controls, you should consider the SLR670α instead.
Pros: Accessible manual exposure settings. Old-school design combined with new-school features. Foldable construction for easier storage.
Cons: Attracts a lot of attention because of its size.
The king is dead long live the king. Even though the original Polaroid Corporation was declared bankrupt in 2001, its legacy lives on thanks to Polaroid Originals, a Dutch photography company and manufacturer founded in 2008 to manufacturer instant cameras modeled on the original Polaroid instant cameras.
The Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 is one of the company’s most popular products, boasting an attractive retro design with the iconic Polaroid logo. The camera is so easy to use that even a child could use it, but it has everything you need to take Instagram-worthy pictures, including a bright viewfinder, powerful flash, timer, and 106 mm lens.
Depending on how you use it, the camera can last you 60 days on a charge, and it charges via a USB port on the rear. Right next to the USB port is a small LED indicator light that changes color when the camera is charged.
Pros: Stylish retro design. Bright optical viewfinder. Extremely long battery life. USB charging.
Cons: Expensive film.
Instant cameras are fun. They can take you back to a simpler time, when you couldn’t easily take hundreds of pictures just to select two or three good ones. Unlike traditional analog cameras, instant cameras can be used by anyone, and they, just as their name suggests, deliver instant results, so there’s no reason to find a place where you can send your film to be developed, only to wait days and even weeks for it to find its way back to you.