Review: Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 (Get Excited for a Glass Lens)

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the successor to the company’s most affordable Instax camera, and it’s better in every single way.

There was a time where I wouldn’t be caught dead with the Fujifilm Instax Mini series of cameras, but the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is part of what’s winning me over fully through the line. Though the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay is still my favorite camera in the lineup, the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 isn’t at all far behind. This is the company’s most basic Instax camera. There is no digital component. There aren’t a lot of fancy switches and knobs. It just gets turned on and off and shoots Instax film. There’s a selfie mode on the lens for photos of your beautiful mug. But perhaps best of all is the glass lens that’s on the front. Instax has been doing this for a few models now and it’s great that it’s coming to the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Much easier to use
  • Brighter and better image quality
  • Selfie mode is easier than ever

Cons

  • Pretty affordable
  • Needs more fun editions like a Hello Kitty edition again. Or like, Ultraman. Yeah, I’d pay good money I don’t have for an Ultraman edition.

Tech Specs

  • The successor to the INSTAX Mini 9 camera
  • Slim body size
  • Transparent ring lens
  • 60mm f12 lens
  • Debossed INSTAX logo on the film door
  • Automatic Exposure – the Mini 11 automatically selects the optimal shutter speed in any environment. No need to adjust a dial!
  • One-touch Selfie Mode – the Mini 11 has a built-in macro mode and selfie mirror for the perfect selfie. You don’t need a close-up lens attachment. Just pull out the lens barrel until the “Selfie Mode” mark appears!
  • Includes 2 shutter button design accessories (a glow-in the-dark and jewel-like button cover) that can be attached to the shutter button for fun customization!

Ergonomics

The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 looks like the previous cameras in some ways. But it’s also easily discernable. Where the previous cameras seemed to embrace more of a bubbly look, the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 doesn’t seem as cute. I’d liken the previous entry-level Mini cameras to a child and say that the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is a bit older. Let’s call it a pre-teen that’s going to hit a growth spurt early and probably end early too. It’s not quite a mature product yet, but it’s getting there. However, at the core of it all is the fun that it’s always had.

The front of the camera has a lens and a mirror for selfies. There’s also a flash and the lens release. But oddest of all is the new shutter release button. You can put one of two on there. They’re jelly, soft and comfortable.

Turn to the back of the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 and you’ll find more room for the grip, the film counter, the viewfinder, and the film door. Of course on the film door, you can find the Instax logo.

On the right side is the grip and the battery door. The door came off once or twice for us. So I’d be careful of this spot.

Here’s the top of the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11. Once you take a photo, it will spit the photo out here. There’s no need to pull it out. In fact, you shouldn’t. There’s also no need to shake the photo when it comes out.

When the lens is extended here’s what it looks like. Specifically, this is the selfie mode. To do that, you just pull the lens out a bit.

On the side view, here’s the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11’s lens in its standard configuration. When you’re done, you just push it back in.

“…if your friend at the wedding spills their drink on it, it’s probably going to stop working.”

Build Quality

Let’s be honest, this camera isn’t going to win any awards for build quality. The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is plastic fantastic at best. In fact, I encountered one build quality problem with the battery door. When I put it into my camera bag and then tried to take it out, the door came off. It’s not loose at all, but it could be more secure. This camera isn’t weather-sealed at all. And most importantly, if your friend at the wedding spills their drink on it, it’s probably going to stop working. We didn’t test that out of course. But that’s an educated hypothesis based on how it feels. Something that’s very nice about the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is the strap lugs. There’s actual proper strap lugs on it that cater to Canon style connections. So if you can get your hand on a beautiful canvas or leather strap, the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 can be slung around your chest all night long during the party.

Luckily for all of this, the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 and its predecessor in the series have usually been really affordable. So if you break one, you can add your contributions to plastics in our environment and just go buy another. Alternatively, Lomography’s options have traditionally been even more affordable and give you more settings. But they’re not as compact as the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11.

“Images from the predecessor reminded me of an influencer who lightened their skin before posting to Instagram. But with the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11, you get the real deal.”

Ease of Use

The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is arguably the easiest Instax camera to use yet. After you load it up with film and put the batteries in, you’ll probably want to attach one of the jelly shutter releases that come with it. These both conform to the shutter and are sticky. Once that’s set and you’ve got your camera strap on, you press the button on the side of the lens that resembles a lens release. This extends the lens on the camera out. There aren’t any focusing methods to speak of. But when you extend the lens out all the way, it’s in selfie mode.

What’s fantastic about the new Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is the metering. Images from the predecessor reminded me of an influencer who lightened their skin before posting to Instagram. But with the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11, you get the real deal.

Focus

The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 can’t be focused and has no methods for doing that at all. Instead, the instruction manual tells you how to shoot for macro images and all. Knowing that folks aren’t going to use this for shooting landscapes, Fujifilm took that mode out of this camera. You can still get it from others like the Mini 90 for example. Instead, the focus is out to a few feet away.

Image Quality

Due to the glass lens in the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11, the images are sharper and better than before. The better image quality is also thanks to what I believe is new metering in the camera. As far as a purely analog Instax experience goes, these are some of the sharpest images that I’ve seen. Lomography also has sharp glass lenses. MiNT’s aren’t that sharp when working with Instax, but they’ve got their own charm for sure. The nicest thing about the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is that the images are sharp and well balanced without looking like their digital images being printed.

Still, this only reminds me that I want a more serious Instax camera really badly. Fully manual controls, rangefinder focusing, etc. would be an absolute dream.

Conclusions

The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 is a great camera for those that are incredibly carefree about their Instax photography. I’ve got friends who own the previous ones and I’m still not totally sure that they’d upgrade to this version unless their current one broke. But even if their current one broke, I’m not sure that they’d upgrade to this. Instead, I’d strongly suggest to them to go for the LiPlay. With that in mind, they’d probably wait until a sale was happening. And this audience may still be the most difficult for Fujifilm Instax to reach in the years going forward. However, the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 can find a great home in the bag of a photographer who want to shoot portraits of strangers. It’s simple–ask the stranger for a portrait and tell them that you’d give them an Instant film shot (or a Polaroid), take a digital photo of them, and then shoot the Instax photo, give it to them, and everyone’s happy. Folks are a lot easier to work with and are much happier if you just give them the shot. So if anything, maybe it will find its way on both banquet tables and in the hands of serious photographers.

We’re giving the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 four out of five stars.