A Polaroid Style Camera
I can remember, back in the day, the launch of a camera that could capture and then develop photos giving you almost “instant” hard copies of photos that had just been taken. Named after the company responsible, or was the company named after the camera, the Polaroid was one of those devices that was almost a status symbol or a fashion accessory. I have to admit that I was an early adopter of this camera capable of capturing and delivering monochrome images. Now I have the opportunity to check out the modern day equivalent of the Polaroid concept with the Instax Mini 8 camera from Fujifilm.
The Instax Mini 8 camera is available in a choice of colours including white, black, blue, pink and yellow. My review sample is the black model which, while smaller than the remembered original Polaroid, was rather too bulky (120 x 115 x 65mm) to comfortably fit into any of my pockets. As a result the camera could dangle from a wrist using a supplied lanyard or, perhaps due to the camera’s weight of 351g, to be slipped into a bag when not required. This camera could hardly be called a thing of beauty with its plastic casing but it does handle reasonably well while providing a basic “point and click” tool for capturing instant images.
The camera is powered by two supplied AA batteries which slot into a compartment on the right side of the camera. Being an Instax camera, taking instant photos, then special film will be required. You need to use Fuji Instax film which is available in packs that contain 10 or 20 shots. This is a similar approach to that adopted a few years ago by Polaroid with its pocket printer for producing hard copies of photos captured on a mobile phone. The Fuji film pack is housed in a compartment at the rear of the camera. A small window in the compartment’s cover indicates when a film is loaded while a counter shows how many shots are available with the current pack. Captured photos automatically emerge from a slot at the top of the camera.
The camera’s design team have positioned the view finder at the top right corner of the unit. I found it easier to use the view finder with my left eye as it avoided my nose being pressed against the camera’s body. While the default orientation is portrait mode, you can switch to landscape mode by twisting the camera through 90 degrees anti-clockwise.
In its dormant state, with an automatic sleep mode activated after 5 minutes of inactivity, the camera’s lens is concealed within the body of the camera. By pressing a button on the side of the lens hood, the lens automatically appears and switches power on. You will then have the opportunity to select from the five exposure modes that are available with this 60mm wide angle lens. Appropriate icons are used to represent Indoor, Cloudy, Sunny, Bright or High Key modes. The High Key mode is for those situations that combine a softer atmosphere with levels of extreme brightness. The shutter speed is fixed at 1/60 of a second while the built-in flash unit takes up to six seconds for recharging after each use.
As mentioned earlier, the photo will appear from the top of the camera. Initially the photo paper will appear blank and you would be forgiven for thinking something had gone wrong but wait a while and the image will gradually begin to appear. Some might find this to be the most enjoyable part of the photographic process. The produced photo will measure 62 x 46mm and be surrounded by a white border with an extra strip at the bottom which can be used to add a short message or signature.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 is more of a fun tool for those who want an immediate hard copy of their snaps when having a day out with friends and family rather than a main camera for serious work. Currently the product is listed at £51.10 by Amazon but this is just for the camera. A pack of 2 x 10 shoots is available for £13.90 while really compulsive happy snappers can purchase a 5 x 20 photo bundle for £67.
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