One day, a few weeks ago, I was having a very specific nostalgic craving. That of the old Polaroid instant camera. You know the ones. Snap a picture of something, it prints out, you shake it (actually I learned you weren’t really supposed to do that), and then the picture develops right in front of your eyes. In the day of the digital camera this really isn’t that useful besides for the novelty of it, but novelty is worth it in some cases for those that don’t care too much of practicality. Fun first and foremost. Right?
Upon researching these old cameras, I found out that the parent company had abandoned them entirely. That means the proprietary film they used was no longer being made. The film that you CAN get is incredibly expensive. It was disappointing, but I continued my research. I mean I couldn’t be the only one wanting to play with a camera like that again, right?
Enter the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 8. It’s not exactly the same, it’s much more compact, the picture size is smaller, but it does have quite a few nice features that the old Polaroids did not. Such as a light sensor to help detect the optimal photo settings, a couple stylized photo settings, and a nice LED flash to name a few of the new additions. Plus the price of around $60 was not too bad for something I planned on using a bit for keeping memories. Well, I ordered the product after reading some pretty positive things about it from a few sources. I received my package a short two days later. I didn’t expect it to have that same feeling of an actual Polaroid, and it doesn’t to be honest, but I was pleasantly surprised by this product.
Upon un-boxing the product I was surprised by the size of it. My hand was bigger than it, and I don’t have that big of hands. The dimensions are 3x5x5.5 inches. Tiny. It didn’t weigh much either, about a pound. I was concerned with how easily it may break, to be honest, with how small it is. Plus, I’m notoriously clumsy with new products because I get all nervous that I’ll ruin it immediately. An analogy for my life right there. But the build quality seems decent, I just wouldn’t go throwing it around and make sure it’s stored OK when transporting. Not a big deal.
The camera operates on 2 standard AA batteries and can hold 10 pictures at once. Something I did not notice during my research was that the camera doesn’t actually come with any film, but luckily I did purchase a spare pack. Make note of this, because that sure would have been disappointing. You can get 20 sheets of film for about $10-$12 online. It won’t be breaking the bank, but would for sure get expensive if this is your main camera. It’s like a toy for photographers or people having fun with their friends more than anything, don’t take it too seriously. It’s not that kind of camera.
Well expectations weren’t too, too high on this aspect. I wanted it to take pictures that were basically clear and have them develop in minutes. That is what I received and it did a good job doing that. They aren’t amazing pictures that you’d want to hang in a frame or anything, but would look good in a scrap book or photo board. The camera has a light sensor on it, which is something the old models did not have, and that helps out a lot making sure the photo comes out nicely and you won’t have to waste film retaking the same picture. I wasn’t really too impressed or disappointed here. I got what I wanted and expected.
The photos did indeed develop nice and quickly. It prints out the side of the camera and within about 3 to 5 minutes you’ll have a decent little picture of whatever you aimed at. I guess what I’m saying is the photo quality is decent, but it’s not much of an improvement of what Polaroid was doing years back. That might be a reason this type of camera was discontinued in the first place, it’s just not as great as a lot of us like to remember. Though it is kind of fun to wait for and watch a photo develop.
All in all I had a great time with this camera. I went out with my friends, snapped some photos and got to keep some memories that normally would have faded by now. Was that worth the price tag? For me, yeah. I’m not a professional photographer trying to add to my catalogue or anything like that though. It’s a fun camera for fun times. And it did kick that nostalgia bug. I still say the original Polaroids were more satisfying to take pictures with. But that could just be my perpetually rose-tinted glasses.
Still, the build quality did leave a bit to be desired I think. Like I mentioned before, there was some nervousness I had about being careful with it and reviews online have noted that the lenses pop out easily. I didn’t experience any of this, but after owning it I can definitely see how that could happen. Transport carefully.
I think this camera successfully cashes in on people that have had the calling to play with an instant camera again, but I think it does just that. Cashes in on it, without trying too hard to make a better product than the one that existed 15+ years ago.
So, would I recommend it? Kind of. It scratches the itch that the Polaroid created, but just barely and doesn’t quite hit the spot like the originals did. Plus the price tag of the film being what it is, $10-$12 for a 10 pack, it really isn’t economical to use it too much. With all this being said, do I regret my purchase? Absolutely not.