The Fujifilm Instax mini 8 is a basic point and shoot camera that takes instant photos and develops them like an old school Polaroid camera. The analogue camera looks like a toy and and is guaranteed to have serious hipster appeal.
When we live in a world where the likes of Instragram and Hipstamatic reigns supreme, the Instax mini 8 is much more fun way of getting that retro picture look.
Available in five colours (white, blue, pink, yellow, black), the Instax mini 8 looks like a big kids toy from its matte plastic finish, chunky lens and big buttons. Despite its hulking size compared to today’s compact cameras, the Instax mini 8 weighs just 307g and is 10% slimmer than previous Instax models. It's not exactly pocket-friendly, but it’s light enough to throw into a bag without trouble.
Buttons and features are basic. Up front is a button to extend the collapsible lens and turn on the camera. Around the lens is the brightness adjustment dial you can twist to choose the different exposure levels. On the hand grip is the camera trigger with the viewfinder above and the always on flash just beside it. Around the back is where you’ll find compartments for film and the battery on the hand grip. Yes it takes batteries, two AA ones to be precise. This is an analogue camera in every way.
Essentially this is a camera with very basic principles; to help you shoot pictures with the right level of brightness. There’s five different exposure levels to choose from; Indoors, Night (F12.7), Cloudy, Shade (F16), Sunny, Slightly cloudy (F22), Sunny and bright (F32). Additionall, there’s a new High Key mode to shoot photos with extreme levels of brightness and a softer atmosphere.
There’s no autofocus and there's a shooting range of 0.6m to 2.7m, so you need to get up close. The flash has a recycle time of 0.2-6 seconds and there is a fixed shutter speed of 1/60 seconds.
The Instax mini 8 only uses Fuji Instax film that comes in packs of 10 and measure 62 x 46mm. That’s about the size of a credit card, so these pictures are on the small size. Packs can cost around £15 making the mini 8 a costly investment in the long run.
To take photos you simply need twist the dial to the appropriate exposure level, peer through the viewfinder and take your shot. It's as simple as that. Images can take some time to fully develop and results can be mixed.
There’s no room for error and if you get it wrong, exposure levels and colours can look off. Worst of all, you’ve wasted one of those expensive films.
The lack of autofocus really makes it a challenge to nail the pictures first time. If you get it right, images are impressively detailed and produce the soft colour effect to create that aged, Polaroid-style look. Taking photos of people works particularly well, but it takes a little more work to shoot great scenery shots or simple pictures of objects.
Of the five exposure settings, the Sunny, Slightly Cloud mode generates the most rewarding pictures. There's good detail in the foreground and background with a good colour range.
Photos indoors can take a bit more work and it's here with the lack of focus really shows. The always-on flash can help make up for low-lit conditions, but colours can look too washed out and image clarity is not great.
Of course, images are on the small side, but you do have the big white border at the bottom so you can sign or leave a message to give it that nice personal touch.
If you want a break from the megapixels and the luxury of being able to empty rubbish photos into a recycle bin, the Fujifilm Instax mini 8 camera is a lot of fun. It's extremely easy to use, and you can capture some decent photos if you manage to match the right exposure levels with the right surroundings.
It has its obvious limitations. It runs on batteries and the films work out very expensive once you factor in how many photos you are likely to mess up. If you can accept that it’s going to cost you in the long term and like the idea of having something that is not all about uploading photos to Facebook, the Instax mini 8 camera is a cool, retro-styled camera that fans of Polaroids will love.
It could also make a fun, simple way to introduce a child to photography.
The Fujifilm Instax mini 8 is an instant camera that’s easy to use and is a reminder of the days before digital cameras. The film is expensive, but if you want to turn the clock back, this is a great retro snapper to do it with.
Read more: top 10 best cameras round-up