There are loads and loads of serious digital cameras. But there aren’t a whole lot of fun cameras out there that are truly meant to be super carefree. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 isn’t a digital camera by any means, but it surely can be very fun to use. This is Fujifilm’s latest iteration after the Instax Mini 11. And it, in some ways, harkens back to older designs that we’ve seen in the 2000s. At the same time, it retains the same carefree demeanor and settings that the others have had.
The Big Picture
There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. In the bluntest terms, it’s the modern equivalent of a 35mm disposable camera that can be reloaded, but it shoots Instax. However, it’s got an adorable design that really makes you want to use it and hold it. And in many ways, I wish that manufacturers treated digital cameras like that — by concocting cameras that you really want to hold and bring with you all the time. For $79.95 here in the US, you’re getting a very fun product. Then you have to consider the cost of Instax film, which can be pretty pricey over time.
Sure, some of you might scoff and say that it’s such a cheap little plasticky camera that has a not-so-serious appeal to it. While acknowledging those feelings, I believe you should consider that not everything needs to be so serious all the time. The world just lost millions of people to wars, a viral disease, natural disasters, the building of a stadium for the World Cup, and so much more. Any one of those people would’ve been happy to have one last day where they could’ve taken some not-so-serious images all the time.
As a journalist, though, I also again need to come back to objectivity. There aren’t a whole lot of updates to this one. And this line isn’t designed to be innovative by any means. Sometimes, we need to try new things in photography and get out of our technical heads while diving deeper into the waters of our emotional spaces. And when we drown in our own emotions, we sometimes connect with the happiness we’ve missed for a while.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 is rated four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out at Amazon.
- Cool colors
- Much smaller than previous iterations
- Simple to use
- Pretty cheaply built, but that’s what we can expect
We used the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 with Instax film and nothing more.
The front of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 looks like any of the other cutesy ones that they’ve made over the years. That’s to say that it’s purposely designed to not have a serious look or feel. But instead, it sort of mimics icons you see around the world for cameras.
The front features a light meter, a flash, a shutter button, and a lens. Said lens has a mirror on it for selfies.
When you twist the lens to power it up, the lens pops out. Otherwise, it’s collapsed into the camera body.
Here’s a look at the top of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. This is where the film is ejected out. And otherwise, to keep with its simplicity, you’ll see that there’s nothing else here.
Below that area and above the lens, you’ll find some of the controls. There’s the off setting, on setting, and close-up setting.
The back of the camera is where you load the film into the camera. There’s also the viewfinder here.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 is a plastic fantastic product. It’s not weather-resistant, and Fujifilm’s user manual even calls it a precision product. In fact, it goes into even more detail:
- Don’t use solvents to wipe off the dirt.
- Dirt in the film chamber will affect the print.
- Don’t leave the camera in a closed-off motor vehicle.
- Gas-containing moth repellant can affect the film.
- Don’t keep the camera around mothballs.
- Take the batteries out if you’re not using them for a while.
For sure, this is quite a precious camera; that word is being used
Ease of Use
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 is mostly a simple camera to use. You twist the area around the lens to activate it. Then to shoot a close-up, you twist it again. The manual states that to use the close-up feature, your subject needs to be in the center circle of the viewfinder. But in practice, it’s more about like an arm’s length away; and so the subject actually needs to be in the circle. Once you’ve got this muscle memory set up, this whole process is pretty easy.
Normal shooting distance, according to the manual, is around half a meter, so around a foot and a half.
One thing that I’d really say: I wish that it came with a better strap because I want to bring this camera with me everywhere.
Just like a disposable camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 doesn’t have true focusing. Instead, it relies on the fact that you’ll be a specific distance away from your subject, and they’ll be in focus. Those cameras are mostly targeted at folks who shoot precious memories while traveling. In that same spirit, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 does this with Instax film. However, it also lets you focus closer.
While the company says this camera can focus to under a foot away, I could never get that to work. Instead, I’d say it’s around arm’s length away from what I experienced with our test unit.
Still, this section shouldn’t be taken all that seriously because part of the fun of Instax films is the slightly out-of-focus softness that Gen Z and fellow Millennials are into.
“But I like shaking it!” said a bartender at a local watering hole I visit when I gave him an Instax print shot on this camera. No, you haven’t needed to shake these prints (or Polaroids, I guess, but not really) for a long time now. However, sometimes, it’s just fun!
Like the Instax Mini 11 before it, I strongly believe that the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 has glass lens elements. There are two of them, so the mechanism isn’t all that complicated. They more or less focus light onto an imaging surface, and that’s it. It has a balance of the same softness that previous Instax cameras had while also giving it just a bit more sharpness.
The vast majority of our readers skew younger, so I don’t expect anyone to want to take a loupe to these Instax photos. But if you do, know that it’s kind of useless. This isn’t that kind of camera, and it doesn’t shoot pixels. It shoots organic film that you need to keep in the fridge to ensure it’s stored properly.
Who Should Buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12?
There’s a good list of folks who I think should buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. And anyone else just shouldn’t bother:
- Couples getting married who want to create affordable memories at each table at their wedding.
- Anyone that wants to get into Instax on the cheap.
- A photographer that likes to take street portraits who then wants to give someone an Instax print as a thank you.
- A photographer that wants to have a camera to play with at times
- Anyone that wants a fun party camera.
Everyone else can check out the other Instax camera options that Fujifilm has.
Specs are taken from the Fujifilm brochure
- Instax mini film
- 2 element lens with a 60mm f12.7 equivalent
- 11.8 inch close focusing
- 1/2 to 1/250th shutter
- Full automatic exposure
- Constant firing flash
- 0.67 lbs of weight without the batteries or film loaded
- Comes in Blossom pink, Pastel Blue, Mint Green, Clay White, and Lilac Purple