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Leica SOFORT review

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Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
  • Leica SOFORT
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  • Leica SOFORT

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • An affordable Leica
  • Instax film is easy to find
  • Easy to use
  • Compact

Cons

  • Niche product
  • Expensive to run
  • Mixed results

Key Features

  • Instant camera
  • Compatible with Instax-mini film
  • 34mm (equivalent) lens
  • Optical real image viewfinder
  • Built-in flash
  • 100-photo battery life
  • 124 x 94 x 58mm
  • 305g
  • Manufacturer: Leica
  • Review Price: £229.99

What is the Leica SOFORT?

The Leica SOFORT is the first instant camera from the long-respected brand. You can buy Leica film for it, but it’s also compatible with the relatively easy to find Instax mini format film.

Operating pretty much as a point and shoot, there are a variety of options which you can control with the camera.

This is not a particularly cheap camera for what you get but for a Leica it’s extremely good value. Most Leica cameras will set you back a small fortune so, by comparison, parting with around £220 feels like a bargain.

Related: Best cameras round-up

Leica SOFORT – Design and handling

This camera is almost perfectly square, and has a utilitarian feel – a classic choice from the German manufacturer.

Unsurprisingly, for a pretty much point-and-shoot instant camera, there aren’t too many dials or buttons to get your head around.

Leica SOFORT

On front of the camera is the lens, which collapses into itself when the camera is switched off and not in use. As soon as you press the power button on the back of the camera, the lens will extend by itself. Around the lens is a focusing ring for switching between close-up focusing and long-range focusing.

On the back of the camera you’ll find an additional four buttons. There’s one button for moving between the different modes on offer - standard, selfie, party, sports, macro, double exposure and bulb mode. There’s another button for switching on the flash, another for activating the self-timer, and a final one for adding some exposure compensation.

Leica SOFORT

Just next to these buttons is a small screen which shows you which settings you’re using, along with a battery life indicator and film remaining count. Instax packs have 10 shots in them.

To insert the film you need to open the film door using the switch marked on the back of the door. The film slots into place very quickly and easily – just line up the yellow markings for best placement. Close the film door and the black cover of the film will slide out of the film slot on the side of the camera. From there, you’ll be ready to take a photo.

Leica SOFORT

There’s a small optical viewfinder in the top left hand corner of the camera. This is designed to give you a bit of assistance when composing the shot, but is not something that compares with viewfinders you’ll find on more complicated cameras (whether optical or electronic). Also on the front of the camera is a small mirror - placed to help you with composition of selfies.

Leica SOFORT

When you’re ready to take the photo, you press the shutter release button on the top of the camera. As soon as you’ve pressed it you should hear the mechanics of the camera starting to work, and a print will pop out. When it first comes out, it will be entirely white - but it just needs some time to develop. It takes a couple of minutes for you to get a rough idea of how the finished image will look, with a further couple of minutes for it to set completely.

Leica SOFORT

A final note about the battery – which is housed on the back of the camera underneath a removable camera back. The battery is rechargeable, with Leica claiming that it is good for 100 shots – considering one film pack only has 10 shots, you’d have to be quite snap happy to deplete this in a single outing.

toboev

December 27, 2016, 11:57 am

Other than price and badge, what is the difference between the Leica film and the Instax film?

Gareth Burleigh

December 27, 2016, 6:39 pm

Other than prestige of a red dot on the box none as far as I have read

Gareth Burleigh

December 28, 2016, 10:27 am

Ooops sent as a post and not a reply

Other than prestige of a red dot on the box none as far as I have read

Cy

February 14, 2017, 3:56 am

The color of the border is different, supposedly, a warmer white.

The Sofort itself is a rebadged/restyled Fuji Instax Mini 90 with usability tweaks. The main difference is that you can switch between normal and infinity focus using the lens ring on the Sofort, instead of using the Mode button on the Mini 90.

This seems like a detail but it does imply that there *are* things the Sofort *can* do but the Mini 90 *cannot*: multiple exposure at infinity focus and bulb exposure at infinity focus.

Cy

February 14, 2017, 4:04 am

A bit puzzled by this review. It seems the author had no idea of how to operate the camera as her comment on focusing errors seems to imply. The author talks about it as if it was an autofocus camera.

There is no autofocus. This is a manual/zone focus camera. Missed focus issues are user errors (to be fair it can be hard to estimate distances). There are actually 3 focus settings. Two of them are toggled using the lens ring: "normal", everything between 0.6 and 3 meters is in focus, and "far", everything from 3m to infinity is in focus. The 3rd mode is Macro (everything from 0.3 to 0.6m is in focus) must be activated using the "Mode" button. This 3 zone focusing system works well because lens has a very small (fixed) aperture (f/12.7), hence the large depth of field.

If the author had trouble focusing close subjects, she should have used the macro mode. Also no point of trying focusing something closer than 0.3m.

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