When Fujifilm first announced their Mini 90 camera, folks everywhere either gawked at the expensive price or looked at it alluringly with lust and heart palpitations. Then we tried it, and actually kind of liked it. It’s totally a hipster camera, but that doesn’t mean that you should sit there and turn your nose away from it. In fact, the Mini 90 has a couple of cool features that will force you to think within a box and put an huge emphasis on unleashing your creative side by getting rid of the technical stuff.
And more than anything, it will be a pricey learning tool.
Pros and Cons
– Fun form factor and incredibly portable. It can fit into a winter jacket pocket with ease.
– More controls than previous Instax cameras
– Dual shutter buttons are a nice touch
– Modes are great as well as the aperture ring-like control
– Film after a while will turn into quite the expense
– Though you should be choosy and selective, the pure experience of shooting encourages you to shoot to your heart’s content. And that in turn means less keeper images
For this review, we used the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 with Instax Mini film. No really, that’s it. Nothing more.
Specs taken from our first impressions post
• Stylish and premium body design
• Automatically detects the brightness of the surrounding and adjusts the amount of flash and shutter speed to optimize photo quality
• A variety of shooting functions:
• Uses INSTAX Mini Instant Film
o Double exposure mode – 2 images are produced on 1 film sheet by pressing the shutter twice
o Bulb mode – the shutter remains open while the shutter button is depressed (10 seconds maximum) and a light trail can be photographed
o Macro mode – short-distance photography as close as 30-60cm
o Kids mode – suitable for photographing kids, pets and other fast moving subjects due to a fast shutter speed
o Party mode – the subject and background can be photographed brightly and clearly
o ISO 800 film speed
o Sharp, clear reproduction
o Vivid color and natural skin tones
o Film size: 2″ x 3″ image area: 1.8″ x 2.4″
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90 has all the appeal and design aesthetics of the X series cameras if they somehow or another went analog. This is a trip that Fujifilm has been on before though after releasing their X100 and rolling along with the retro design for a couple of years now. With that said, the Mini 90 has silver and black touches to it. The lens pops out when the camera is switched on via the power button.
When the camera is off, the lens retracts back into the body: which helps to keep the overall package more compact. The camera also sports a power on/off switch, flash and shutter release on the front. Around the lens is a control ring that can be used in conjunction with buttons on the back.
More on those in a bit.
The top of the camera is essentially the receiving end. After you shoot an image, it will be printed and pop out from here. As far as we know though, there isn’t a way to keep the rollers clean. So if you plan on using the camera a lot, then we recommend also ensuring that the development chemicals of your film flows through evenly by pressing on the exposure with your fingers.
If you’ve used the peel apart films, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
The back of the Mini 90 is where the company decided to position its many control buttons. Here, you’ll have access to the macro button, exposure compensation, a self-timer, flash control, and different modes. The modes are for portraits, landscapes, double exposures, and our favorite: bulb.
Here is also where you’ll find the compartment to store the film–which comes in small cases.
Unlike many of the other Instax cameras, the Mini 90 features a side shutter release. This button will make shooting landscape style Instax images much easier. In fact, we believe it to be more ergonomically pleasing than the front shutter button.
Of all of the Instax cameras out there, the Mini 90 has the best build quality. But in all truthfulness, that still isn’t saying much. It’s made of plastic and almost nothing about it feels metallic. While this keeps the camera very lightweight and easy to tote around, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t drop it.
We wouldn’t describe the build to be like a toy camera, but it’s a step above it.
Ease of Use
While the camera comes with a manual, experienced photographers will immediately be able to use the camera without needing to read it. The buttons and mode symbols are all completely intuitive, and that’s the experience that Fujifilm is trying to go for with this Mini 90. However, we’re pretty darn positive that folks that really know nothing about photography will look at it scratching their heads–and their facial expressions alone might be worthy of snapping a Polaroid.
Or in this case, an Instax.
For the most part, the camera will try to get almost everything in focus. At the macro mode, you’ll be focusing on whatever is around 15 inches from the camera. This way, you can get some really nice bokeh. Then there is the landscape capturing mode, which will focus out to infinity.
Let’s be completely honest here: this is an Instax camera. The image quality isn’t going to be mind-blowingly stellar but it allows you to have creativity with your photos for sure. With that said though, Instax images are larger than 35mm film and are pretty much medium format in size. With the right scanner, you can get lots and lots of resolution out of the photos.
But we’d still recommend that you go for the peel apart film if you really want a better photo.
If you’re looking to do loads of pixel peeping, this isn’t the camera for you and you should probably smack yourself really hard before even considering something like this. The Instax Mini 90 is a creative camera with an emphasis on giving people that love the fun-filled party cameras a bit more creativity and versatility. With that said though, this is a camera that will be targeted at and sold to people that value creativity and looks first. It can be the fun little camera that they snap instant moments with and then take with them to a weekend getaway. For those folks, it will probably be the only camera they will ever own and need.
But for the more advanced user, you’re going to want a hell of a lot more. Perhaps I’m spoiled, but absolutely nothing can beat my Polaroid 185 land camera and Fujifilm’s 100-C 3×4 pack film. And nothing comes close to it in image quality despite some of the quirks it has. It’s still an amazing camera though more expensive than the Mini 90. In the end though, the extra expense is worth it if you’re looking to get serious with your instant film photos.
At the moment, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is available in the US exclusively to Urban Outfitters. And in terms of strategic marketing, they’re the perfect outlet for the camera.
Recommended Items and Accessories
Fujifilm Instax Mini Film– In order to take photos, you’re going to need to work with this film in the first place.
Instax Rainbow Film– The rainbow film is the same exact film as the normal Instax, but it comes in some fun colors.
MeFOTO Daytrip Tripod– If you’re going to be shooting in Bulb mode, we recommend toting along a small tripod with you. MeFOTO’s Daytrip is perfect for this and comes in a bunch of colors. Set the camera on the tripod and simply shoot away in Bulb mode while counting, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi” in your head.
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