One of the recent photography trends that has surprised and really delighted me is the sudden explosion of interest in instant film photography. Most photographers have grown so accustomed to the instant gratification of digital photography that printing has grown less and less common over the years. Instant film has found a niche by giving you the appeal of having a physical copy of your photograph without the wait and technical skill required to create a quality print. While the instant film craze was started by simple point-and-shoot camera like the Fuji Mini line, we’ve been seeing more and more advanced cameras starting to arrive. The latest is the Fuji Instax SQ10, a hybrid digital/instant film camera with some very compelling capabilities.
The SQ10 captures small (3-MP) digital files with its sensor but has a built in Instax printer right in the camera body. This printer uses the brand new Instax Square format, which gives you a shape reminiscent of Polaroid film. This gives the Instax SQ10 some very appealling features not found on other instant film cameras. The most important to me is the ability to view my images before I print them. The SQ10 has a small LCD display on the back for reviewing images. Instant film is not cheap, so being able to make sure the shot turned out before printing is a huge advantage.
The SQ10 has unique design with dual shutter releases on the front of the camera, near the lens. This design combines with the 1-to-1 aspect ratio of the film to encourage you to grab the camera and shoot quickly, without worrying about your photo’s orientation. (Just be careful not to block the flash with your hands if it enables.) I was skeptical of the design at first, but I actually found it quite comfortable, if a bit bulky.
The SQ10 has a very simple interface. Camera exposure controls are minimal, but there are simple controls for adjusting the look of your pictures on the LCD before printing them. It’s a relief to be able to make small exposure adjustments or tweak the colour of a photo before committing to printing. One small issue is that camera defaults to “auto” printing, which prints every picture you take, as a opposed to the “manual” setting that lets you print when you want. Leaving the camera in “auto” printing negates much of the advantage of the SQ10 in the first place.
I was very impressed with the prints that came out of the SQ10. Fuji’s image processing is extremely well regarded, with good reason, and I never felt like the images coming out the SQ10 had a digital look, except in extremely low light, where no shots made on a conventional Instax camera would have turned out anyways. The included Instagram-style filters are pleasant and not over the top.
The Fuji Instax SQ10 is one of the most compelling instant films cameras to be released since the current craze started. While it’s thrilling when you get a great shot on Instax film, that feeling is often undermined by the cost of all the prints that didn’t turn out. The Instax SQ10 addresses that issue, while still allowing me to hand out prints while I’m still shooting. I’m hoping for a future version with more photographic controls, but for the time being, I’m really enjoying being out shooting with the SQ10. For more information check out thecamerastore.com or instax.com/square.