A Beautiful But Incredibly Boring Camera. Fujifilm SQ1 Review

The Fujifilm SQ1 is a lazy Instax camera using the company’s fantastic square format.

Someone was bound to say it, but it seems Fujifilm isn’t really trying with the Instax format. They’re just releasing cameras that spit the film out in various sizes. Some have Bluetooth connectivity, which is very cool. Some are just printers. But lots of them do the same thing: take a photo and spit it out. With the Fujifilm SQ1, I feel that Fujifilm is still not doing anything different. For years, I’ve asked for a higher-end Instax camera. I keep hearing the same things from them: people don’t want it. And I don’t believe that. With Lomography releasing an Instant film back for large format cameras, I have to believe that folks want a higher-end Instax camera. The Fujifilm SQ1 isn’t that camera. In fact, it barely does anything at all.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cool colors
  • Good light metering

Cons

  • Fujifilm didn’t need this camera
  • It’s time to innovate with Instax and analog, Fujifilm

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm SQ1 with the Instax Square film.

Tech Specs

Ergonomics

The Fujifilm SQ1 is Fujifilm’s most visually appealing camera yet in the Instax lineup. This color is called Terra Cotta. And on the front, you’ll find the handgrip with the shutter button. There is a flash and a viewfinder too. But taking up most of the real estate is the lens.

At the top of the camera, you’ll find where the film gets spit out. If you look further down, you’ll see the lens controls and activation. But we’ll get to that later.

On the back of the Fujifilm SQ1, you’ll find the viewfinder, battery area, and film loading area. Fujifilm kept it simple, and we totally understand why they did this.

When the lens is fully extended, this is what it looks like. There is an on, off, and selfie function around the lens. Let’s be honest, everyone looks good in Instax selfies.

The Fujifilm SQ1 has all the controls around the lens. When it’s turned off, the lens retracts. When activated, it extends. When it’s in selfie mode, it changes ever so slightly.

Build Quality

The Fujifilm SQ1 has a very plastic feel to it. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It feels pretty solid. But I can’t take this thing into the rain and expect it to stand up to the elements. I also would be sort of crazy to keep it around my neck at a party. If drinks spill on it or I take a tumble, this camera will surely break.

Ease of Use

The Fujifilm SQ1 doesn’t have very much to it. Loading the film is straight forward. The same goes for installing the batteries. And using the camera is deceptively simple. I thought it would have more complicated settings, but it doesn’t. Turn the lens ring to the on, off, or selfie mode, and that’s it. The 65mm f12.6 lens is made of plastic and shoots as close as just under a foot away. That’s fun, for sure. But the best part is that with this lens, no one is going to look unflattering. It’s too soft to render much detail from someone. And because it’s a medium format equivalent, everyone looks better at a given focal length.

For the folks who will use this camera carelessly, I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with it. But get yourself a neck strap and let it dangle around to your hip. It’s going to be simple to use and fun. Personally speaking, though, it’s a bit large for me to want to carry everywhere.

Image Quality

The Fujifilm SQ1 has a plastic lens. The image quality isn’t anything special or different from the rest out there. The light meter is the one that’s been appearing in all their newer cameras. And otherwise, there’s nothing to write home about. It’s not exciting or anything new. I really just wish that Fujifilm used glass optics more with adjustable apertures, etc. Instax Square is capable of doing so much more.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Colors
  • It’s gorgeous

Dislikes

  • I don’t think Fujifilm is trying anymore

The Fujifilm SQ1 is a very basic Instax Square camera. I had a lot more hope for it. I also believe it’s time for Fujifilm to make Instax more serious. Folks love the format, and they have tons of fun with it. But the film is capable of doing so much more. Why not give us a medium format rangefinder camera that shoots Instax Square? Or a TLR that does? Or a medium format SLR that can use a square back or a mini back? Fujifilm makes such fantastic lenses I’m not sure why they’re holding back. Personally speaking, I’m a bit over it.

I’ll admit I’m not their typical consumer. But I’m the person that brings an Instax camera with them every time I have off-time. It’s fun to take photos of people and hand them an Instax print. The Fujifilm SQ1 is a massive camera, and I don’t know if I want to bring it with me everywhere. More importantly, I think the overall approach to the format needs to adapt. They can keep the easy cameras meant for fun, but the analog photography world needs something more.

The Fujifilm SQ1 gets three out of five stars. Find it on Amazon.