The very first Fujifilm Instax camera was released way back in 1998 but the popularity of the range really took off in 2012 when the Instax Mini 8 was released. Since then, Instax sales have boomed, with over 7.7 million units being sold in 2017 alone.
Instax cameras are different from digital cameras in that they allow you to take and print photos on the spot. Because the cameras are analogue and lack an LCD screen on the rear, you never know what the image is going to look like until it has developed. In an age where instant gratification is the norm, this is a large part of Instax’s appeal.
As of today, there are three film formats: Wide (99mm x 62mm), Square (62mm x 62mm) and Mini (46mm x 62mm). Despite being the smallest of the three, Mini cameras tend to be the most popular, partly because there are more of them on the market. The prints are about the size of a business card, making them easy to store inside a wallet and share with friends.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at the best Instax Mini cameras on the market today. If you’re confused about which one to buy, we hope our advice will set you off in the right direction!
Ethics statement: We bought the Instax cameras in this article for our personal use. All opinions about these cameras are our own. Within this article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
1. Instax Mini 9
Who is it for? – Complete beginners or those happy to work with a basic instant film model.
Released in 2017, the Instax Mini 9 is the most recent Instax Mini model. Like the extremely popular Instax Mini 8 that came before it, the Mini 9 has a cute, toy-like design and comes in a variety of fun colours.
It suits newcomers to instant photography because it only has a very basic set of controls. You can choose between four settings – indoor, cloudy, sunny or very sunny – by rotating the dial that surrounds the lens. If you’re not sure which to choose, don’t worry: the camera will always indicate the ideal setting.
On the front of the lens, you’ll find a small mirror which you can use to frame your selfies more accurately. The camera also comes boxed with a separate close-up lens for selfies and semi-macro work.
The camera uses two AA batteries and you can usually take around 10 rolls of film before having to change them.
Because the Mini 9 is the cheapest Mini camera on this list, it is good for people who don’t want to spend a lot, or those who want to see how much they enjoy instant photography before upgrading to a more advanced model.
Note: the Mini 8 is a great alternative to the Mini 9. It is basically the same camera but it comes in different colours and designs. Two of the most popular ones are the Minion and Hello Kitty versions. However it lacks the mirror and doesn’t come with the close-up lens.
2. Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic
Who is it for? – Those who feel comfortable with instant photography and would like some freedom to experiment with various techniques.
The Mini 90 Neo Classic is the most advanced Mini model on the market today. Although it uses the same film as the Mini 9, it offers more control over the look of the final shot.
A good example is the flash, which you can force fire, set to red-eye reduction or turn off altogether on the Mini 90. On the Mini 9 by comparison, the flash will always fire. There are also extra settings including double exposure, landscape (which tells the camera to focus far away), macro (which tells the camera to focus close), bulb and timer to name a few. I particularly like the darken/lighten mode that lets you tweak the brightness of the image.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about the Mini 90 is that you can combine modes to achieve your desired result. In the example below, I’ve combined five different settings: double exposure, macro, darken, flash off and timer.
Because it is quite a bit smaller than the Mini 9, it is easier to fit inside a small bag or coat pocket. However it only comes in two classic colour variations (black and brown).
A final advantage is that it uses a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to worry about the expense of buying new batteries.
As you might have guessed, the Mini 90 is the most expensive camera on this list. These days, it can be found for around twice the price of the Mini 9, so it’s worth having a good think about how much you’ll actually use these extra features before making the investment.
Personally speaking, the Mini 90 is my favourite model because I enjoy the creative freedom it gives me as a photographer.
3. Instax Mini 70
Who is it for? – Those after a middle-ground model that combines features from the Mini 9 and 90.
The Mini 70 is an interesting mix of the Mini 9 and 90 Neo. Like the entry-level model, it comes in lots of bright colours while benefitting from a wider range of features such as a timer, dedicated selfie mode, and macro/landscape modes similar to the Mini 90. It is also just as physically compact as the high-end model.
That said, it lacks a few of the Mini 90’s most interesting features such as double exposure, flash suppression, the darken option, and the ability to use more than one mode at a time.
The only thing I really don’t like about the Mini 70 is that it uses CR2 batteries. They aren’t as easy to find as standard AA batteries, nor are they as economical as the rechargeable battery of the Mini 90. That said, they are good for around 40 packs of film, so you won’t need to change them all that often.
Unsurprisingly the Mini 70 is more expensive than the Mini 9 but less expensive than the Mini 90.
Which Instax should you choose?
As is the case with most things, choosing the right camera ultimately depends on how much you are willing to spend and the kind of features you’re interested in.
If all you want is a basic point-and-shoot model, the Mini 9 (or the Mini 8) should be enough for your needs. It’s a great solution for weddings, parties or selfies when you’re out and about with friends because it takes two seconds to come to grips with its functionalities.
The Instax Mini 70 – and Mini 90 Neo Classic in particular – are built to challenge your creative side. Their extra settings give you more freedom to experiment and tweak the final result until it suits your taste. For this reason, they are also more expensive than the Mini 9, but the extra money is worth it if you feel you might quickly tire of the point-and-shoot nature of the entry-level model.
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