In The Frame
Four exposure settings are provided which essentially vary the amount of fill-in flash provided.
The Instax Mini 7S has a simple 60mm doublet lens with a fixed focusing range of 60 centimetres to infinity. The image quality is pretty good and the prints look nicely sharp, but obviously this lens isn’t being tested by the prospect of enlarging the picture beyond the 46x62 mm imaging area (nor is film grain an issue). The effective focal length is around 40mm and, held upright, the orientation is portrait so you turn the camera on its side for the landscape format.
The Instax Mini 7S may be designed as a pretty simple point-and-shoot camera, but it incorporates a reasonably sophisticated metering system to precisely balance the flash output with the amount of available light.
The viewfinder is pretty basic and you need to make sure that your eye is absolutely centred on the eyepiece to ensure accurate framing (there’s a faint target mark to assist with this).
The camera is shown here with the print cartridge loaded which is simply a case of aligning the yellow tabs seen at the top right of the pack. Press the shutter release after the camera has been closed ejects the film cover.
Mind you, of course, this is primarily designed to be a fun camera for care-free snapping so you aren’t meant to worry too much about precision. Just like the Polaroid 600 cameras, it’s great at parties except that you’ll probably end up losing all your prints to people who want to keep them. It’s definitely a lot cheaper to post a set of digital party pics on Facebook.
Perhaps the ultimate irony here is that the ‘new’ Polaroid – which, incidentally, is either Mark 3 or 4 (we’ve lost count) – has recently launched a rebadged version of the Instax Mini 7S called the Polaroid 300 complete with repackaged film. Now there’s a turnaround, although we do quite like the Polaroid models’ ‘reversed’ colour schemes, especially. It’s also worth noting here that the various instant film backs for the
Lomography stalwarts (such as the Lomo LC+A and the Diana) also use Fujifilm’s Instax Mini cartridge.
We tried out the Instax Mini at a family gathering for an al fresco lunch and it was an instant hit (sorry!) with the under-12s who just loved the idea of having a print to hold rather than the nebulous nature of an image displayed on a LCD screen.
As the kids got more enthusiastic, the parents also got interested so the only problem was the rapid rate at which the film supplied with the test camera was used up!
There’s no point in being rational about a camera like Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 7S. Along with the Lomos or the other ‘plastic fantastics’, you’re going to buy it because you value the experience rather more than the economics.
While the same money buys a pretty decent digital compact camera these days and one of those won’t then cost you nearly $2 a pop every time you press the shutter, the 7S is a whole lot more fun and you’ll be surprised just how many uses you’ll find for the little prints. We were also surprised at the image quality which included a much richer colour rendition that was the case with the old Polaroid 600 cameras.
In the end, if you like the idea of instant photography – and be assured, you’re far from being alone here – you’ll find the Instax Mini 7S pretty irresistible.
FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 7S
Type: Fully automatic, fixed lens compact camera delivering self-developing colour prints.
Lens: Fujinon 60mm f12.7 (two elements/ two groups)
Focusing Range: 60 cm to infinity (fixed).
Shutter Speeds: 1/60 second (fixed).
Metering: Built-in for managing flash-todaylight ratios.
Exposure Control: Automatic only with manual settings for Indoor/Dark, Cloudy/ Shady, Fine and Clear.
Sensitivity: ISO 800. Image Size: 46x62 millimetres (the print size is 54x86 mm).
Continuous Shooting: Single shot only. Format: Instax Mini.
Flash: Built-in with auto low light activation and auto exposure control. Range is 60 cm to 2.7 metres.
Viewfinder: Optical, inverted Galilean type. Magnification = 0.4x.
Power: Four AA-size batteries (alkaline).
Dimensions (WxHxD): 119.5x121.5x70.5 mm.
Weight: 320 grams (without batteries or film pack).
Price: $163.90. An Instax Mini film pack (ten prints) sells for $18.95.
Distributor: Fujifilm Australia Pty Ltd