Fuji Instax


Polaroid replacement

If you recall Polaroid’s One Step cameras, Fuji’s Instax will be familiar. It’s the only game in town for consumer instant undigital photography now that Polaroid is defunct. There is Zink, which is digital, and which I haven’t yet tried. If you have, let us know.

If you like instant pictures, you’ll like the Instax. The format is a pleasing 3 7/8” wide, 2 3/8” high image, a more horizontal configuration than the SX70 (or Polaroid’s 600, for that matter) was. The Fuji Instax film’s dynamic range is broader than what I recall of Polaroid’s comparable offerings. Super-simple Lighter-Normal-Darker settings allow for fine-tuning the exposure, though unless the scene is backlit or very contrasty, the auto exposure is right on. Avoid dark situations for best results, as flash coverage is limited, and ambient light will always look better. Daylight photos look great.

I embraced digital photography more than a decade ago, but that doesn’t diminish the appeal of this kind of camera. The opposite is true. It’s great for bringing to a party and leaving pictures as a gift. At about $1 per image for the film, it’s not cheap to use, but the handful of family photos I take with it are more likely to be kept and enjoyed — seen — than are the thousands I have taking up space on hard drives. Those of us used to the scale of compact digital cameras or iPhones will find the Instax bulky. I haven’t found its size to be a bother, but it’s not small enough to carry around without noticing. Convenince isn’t the thing with this camera. To me taking, and giving, instant photos has been worth the trouble.

-- Elon Schoenholz 08/17/09