As someone entering the world of instant film for the first time, I was both encouraged and overwhelmed by the number of cameras available right now.
So I laid out some criteria to guide my decision: I wanted a camera that had the ease and spontaneity of a point-and-shoot but also offered some variable features for creative control. I am also partial to the square format that is so iconic of the original Polaroid, so square film was a must.
In the end, the Fuji Instax SQ6 seemed to check these boxes, and, after a few months of playing around with it, here are some thoughts on Fuji’s first fully analog Instax square camera!
Three different focusing modes (Selfie, Macro, and Landscape) determine the zone of focus depending on how far your subject is away.
The Selfie and Landscape modes are pretty straightforward, but I found it hard to frame shots in the Macro setting, as the viewfinder is offset from the lens.
If you are shooting a subject close up, shift the camera to the right and up a little bit to compensate.
Double Exposure Mode
The Double Exposure mode is probably my favorite feature of this camera. The ability to layer two exposures on top of one another offers some really cool opportunities to be creative.
I found it most effective if you choose a distinct subject with a bright background for your first frame (silhouettes are a great place to start!), and then a more generic, patterned or textured shot for your second frame.
It’s a really fun mode to experiment with!
The last two modes are for exposure compensation in tricky light situations.
The Lighten (L) setting is really useful if, for example, your subject is backlit (where it would underexpose the subject in Automatic mode), while the Darken (D) setting can be used if you’re worried about overexposure.
While these settings offer some range of control over your image, I do wish you were able to use the exposure compensation in tandem with the other shooting modes.
For examples, if I’m shooting in macro mode, and my subject is backlit, I’m unable to use the Lighten mode to compensate, and will have to be content with an underexposed subject.
Out of the box the film cartridge loads easily into the back of the camera by lining up the yellow marks on the film and on the camera, and then closing the back.
Turning the camera on and pressing the shutter once expels the dark slide that was protecting the film before it was loaded, and then you’re ready to shoot!
There is also a small window on the back of the camera that shows you how many shots you have remaining.
Ok so I have one more complaint about the camera, and it’s the cost of film. At just under a dollar per shot in color, and a little more for black and white, the film isn’t cheap.
But, I suppose if you are choosing to shoot film, you are used to having to fork out a bit more money to invest in the hobby, so if you look at it that way the cost of film might just be another investment in the industry.
Film Size and Color Rendition
As the name suggests the image is a square, with dimensions of 2.4 x 2.4 inches.
This is significantly smaller than the original Polaroid image (3.1×3.1 inches), but it’s still large enough to produce a meaningful image.
The colors in the film are vibrant and contrasty, which is a change from the muted vintage look so iconic of the original Polaroids.
If you prefer the more vintage look, perhaps look at going with a Polaroid. But as far as consistency of exposure goes, and the true rendering of what the camera sees, I’m really happy with the performance of the Instax film.