The Instax Square SQ40 is a wonderfully simple instant camera that swaps out the SQ1’s vibrant finish for a more classic faux leather style.
- Classic black and silver design
- Easy to operate
- Bright, stylised shots
- Close-ups can be blurry
- Instax film isn’t cheap
- Classic designBlack faux leather finish
- Automatic exposureWith flash to brighten photos
- Selfie modeWith a mirror to help pose
- Square shotsTakes Instax Square film
If you’ve ever thought about picking up an Instax Square camera but felt put off by the bright and colourful design of the Instax SQ1, the Square SQ40 might just be the camera you’ve been waiting for.
The Square SQ40 carries the same specs and 62 x 62mm square film as the terracotta SQ1 in a (slightly) less flashy faux leather package. The black and silver finish gives the Instax a more subtle, classic design and offers those who liked the look of the Instax Mini 40 an opportunity to pick up a camera in a similar style with support for larger film.
The Instax Square SQ40 isn’t bursting with features, but it looks great and it’s incredibly easy to use.
Design and features
- Has a black faux leather finish
- Large and chunky, but it isn’t heavy
- The controls are very simple
As I’ve come to expect from Fujifilm’s Instax range, the Square SQ40 has a design that’s bursting with personality.
The camera is rectangular, with the height slightly less than the width. A black faux leather material coats the exterior of the camera apart from the sides, shutter button and front section of the lens, which stand out with bright silver detailing.
The finished effect is a chunky camera with a neutral – but no-less eye-catching – classic style taken straight from 2021’s Instax Mini 40.
The camera carries the same specs as the (still available) Instax SQ1 in a more appealing package for those put off by the SQ1’s vibrant appearance. The SQ40 harkens back more to the SQ6 and is the polar opposite of the bright and bubbly Mini 12.
While I enjoyed the look of the new SQ40, the size did feel a bit hit-and-miss for me. The camera is small and lightweight enough to carry around but it wasn’t quite compact enough to fit in a small bag. This meant I would need to commit to carrying a bigger bag or keeping the camera slung over my body on a day or night out.
One difference I did notice between the SQ40 and the SQ1 was the size of the grip. Fujifilm has all but gotten rid of the textured grip on the SQ1, replacing it with a small bump where the shutter button on the SQ40 is.
The controls are very much the same, however. You can twist the lens once to switch the camera on, or twice to move into selfie mode. In this mode, you can use the tiny mirror on the front of the camera to frame and capture photos of yourself, including group shots.
The controls are incredibly simple to use, making this camera feel very user-friendly. All you need to do is twist the lens, peer through the viewfinder and press the shutter button to snap a photo, with the camera sorting the exposure and printing automatically.
I even passed the camera to a stranger at one point and, after quickly checking where the shutter button was, he had no problem taking a photo of my friends and I.
There’s automatic exposure and flash control to ensure that images come out bright enough, but no sign of the Parallax Correction feature that launched with the Instax Mini 12 and ensured the viewfinder was lined up correctly on the smaller camera.
Unlike Fujifilm’s hybrid instant cameras and printers, there are no hidden features in the companion app. However, you can use the Instax Up! App to scan your photos and share them on social media.
Performance and image quality
- Compatible with Fujifilm’s Instax Square film
- Images are sharp in some areas and soft in others
- There’s a selfie mode with a mirror for lining up shots
The Instax Square SQ40 works with Fujifilm’s Instax Square film, which measures 62 x 62mm or 86 x 72mm including the borders.
Fujifilm sells film in backs of 20 with 10 shots in each of the two cartridges, working out at about 85p a shot. This might not be an extortionate price, but it can feel a little painful when you receive an unfocused print and have to watch the little counter on the camera tick down as you line the shot up again.
If you want to ensure you never waste any film, I’d recommend picking up an Instax printer (such as the Instax Square Link) instead. These let you take as many photos as you need on your smartphone before connecting the device to print only your favourite pics. However, if you’re in it for the spontaneity of carrying around an instant camera, the Square SQ40 is still the best choice.
The image quality is decent with the camera able to pick up a good amount of detail and contrast, while the automatic exposure and flash provide enough light to brighten up your subject regardless of the time of day.
I do feel I had less success capturing consistently sharp images than I did with the Instax Mini 12 – particularly in low light or when photographing bright lights.
Luckily, imperfect images are part of the charm of instant photography, so the blur on the lights of the pinball machine and the fuzzy text in the background of this photo of my friends on a train add some character to these images rather than ruining them.
The focus wavered more often in close-up shots, both in the regular and selfie modes, so I’d definitely recommend taking a step back when using this camera. This is something I also experienced when testing the Mini 12.
Prints produced by the SQ40 are on the cooler, darker side but bright colours are still able to pop. Skin tones are often lighter than life but the film does retain a good amount of warmth to prevent people from appearing overly ghostly.
The selfie mode is a great feature and the mirror makes it easy to line up shots and pose for the camera.
It’s difficult to test the battery life on an instant camera, but Fujifilm claims the battery should last you approximately 30 Instax Square packs, so 300 shots. The camera requires two CR2 batteries, however, so replacing them might cost a bit more than swapping out the AAs in the Mini 12.
Should you buy it?
You want a stylish instant camera:
The Instax Square SQ40 is the Instax SQ1 with a new look. If you prefer a more vibrant, kitschy style, you should check out our review of the SQ1.
You prefer wallet-sized prints:
If you’re looking for slim prints you can slip into your wallet, card holder or use to decorate the back of a phone case, you might prefer the Instax Mini 40.
The Instax Square SQ40 is essentially the SQ1 dressed up in black faux leather and silver details to fit a similar aesthetic to the Mini 40. Operating the camera is just as easy as it was on the SQ1 and the feature set remains very basic, with the exposure and flash working automatically, a single shutter button to shoot and a mirror beside the lens to help line up selfies.
The image quality is much the same too, with the camera delivering blueish tones, good contrast and a mix of sharp details in some images and softer, fuzzier results in others. The square print size is nice for group shots as you can easily fit quite a few people in the frame compared to the smaller Mini variety. However, Instax film isn’t cheap regardless of the model you choose, so that’s something to bear in mind on top of the cost of the camera.
Check out our best instant camera list for even more options.
How we test
We test every camera we review thoroughly. We use set tests to compare features properly and we use it as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Used the camera for a week
Tested the regular and selfie modes
Shot photos in daylight and the low light settings
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The Instax Square SQ40 is compatible with Fujifilm’s Instax Square film, which measures 62 x 62mm or 86 x 72mm including the borders.
No, every photo you snap on the Instax Square SQ40 will print automatically. If you’re concerned about wasted film, you’re better off opting for a hybrid camera like the Instax Mini Evo or a printer like the Instax Square Link.