For years I’ve watched friends snap pics with their Instax cameras. I read Jade’s Mini 8 review and had all the jelly levels. I’ve always wanted one, but I’ve never purchased. I’ve never been able to justify dropping cash on a camera “for fun”, when the majority of the tech in my house has to work for a living. The closest I came was Christmas last year. I was standing in a printing store waiting for some mugs Player 2 had decided to make (don’t ask) and I saw an Instax camera bundle – which included extra paper and a cute bag…. And then I didn’t, because my stupid “sensible” brain kicked in and pointed out an Instax wouldn’t be used for content creation and would rather just be something I’d use for fun.
But everyone needs fun gadgets!
In a weird twist of fate the Fujifilm Instax SQ6 arrived for review a few weeks ago. I really want to go into some detail around my time with the camera so if you’re looking for info on the blush gold colour or the like then best you watch my first look video before reading on:
Caught up? Good. I’m going to break this up into the stuff that I think is relevant and “need” to know. Loading photo paper is simple. The paper comes in a cartridge and you click it in place at the back of the camera. My biggest fear was that loading paper was going to be a headache but it was really simple. The camera uses disposable CR2 batteries. I’m not a fan of disposable batteries because I find I’m regularly left with a device that has flat batteries when I need it most (and usually I don’t have spares on me) but so be it.
As I mentioned in the video – the SQ6 prints square polaroids (which I prefer to the original Instax prints). Also shown in the video is the various modes you can utilise. I showed off the selfie mode (the mirror in the front is a life saver) but the other modes are worth a mention as well. There is a flash on the Instax and the lens can adjust to three fixed focus ranges. Adjustments occur depending on your mode selection. Let me break down what those are:
Auto: Pretty much self explanatory. A few things to keep in mind – the flash always goes off if you have auto selected unless you choose to stop it (more on that below). I much preferred playing with more specific modes and felt I got better photos from them – but Auto is a great place to start.
Selfie: I’ve explained this one in the video.
Macro: This one is nice if you want to get up close and grab shots at close range. The flash also doesn’t fire if the light is right.
Landscape: If you want to take photos from far away this one is your mode. I took shots of my fam in the sky after they’d jumped out of a plane and I was surprised with how good the photo was. Despite them being so far in the distance you can still see what they’re up to.
Double exposure: So this is meant to be a fun mode that overlays two different photos on one piece of photo paper. I saw so many arty type examples on the internet but no matter how hard I tried I could not get this right. Possibly my least favourite mode.
Lighten and Darken: Again – both these modes are pretty much self explanatory.
My day with the Instax SQ6
To really put this little camera to the test I took it with me when I went skydiving with my nearest and dearest. No, I didn’t jump out the plane with it – the photos would fly away as they were released from the camera! I chose to rather use it to document the day. So instead of Instagram pics and photos snapped on my phone, I arrived at the jump zone armed with the old school polaroid and ready to snap. Obviously you’re limited with how many photos you can take because you’re printing to photo paper. I found this rather fun, watching the counter on the camera (which shows you how many photos you have left). You become much more aware of snapping “meaningful” pics while also having to be okay with whatever develops. No more filters and touch ups.
I tried a variety of different modes and the physical filters as well. When we’d all thrown ourselves out of the plane and headed home I was so happy with the pictures I had. Each one, even if it wasn’t the perfect instagram-able shot, makes me grin. Even my horrible double exposure attempts. I also love that I have all these amazing memories that I can see every day, rather than having them stored on a device somewhere.
One day with the Instax SQ 6 and I was convinced. I needed this camera. I loved the idea of capturing real life moments on real life polaroids. Plus it is fun. That’s really the just of it. It’s so much fun. However, as I mentioned earlier – gadgets have to earn their keep in my house. While fun seemed like a decent ROI measure I was still a bit concerned with the costs involved. So let’s take a look:
The camera itself comes in at R2195 from ORMS Direct. You’ll get the camera, 2 x CR2 Lithium Batteries, a shoulder strap and 3 flash covers.
CR2 Lithium Batteries cost roughly R100 a battery. So you’ll need to drop around R200 for spare batteries. I’m not sure what replacement times would be like. I only had the camera for two weeks and needed to replace batteries half way through (I have no indication of how long the original batteries were in the camera).
Instax Square Instant Film costs R195 for a pack of ten shots. We took around 15 pictures on our Sky Diving adventure so it would have cost us R400 for 20 shots.
I’ve done cost comparisons before on competing brands like the sprocket and printing services that offer similar products. This pricier Instax and the Sprocket come in around the same costing and I still think the Instax is a far better option, after reviewing both gadgets. Obviously using a printing service comes in the cheapest but for the sake of this review I’m looking at the home gadgets head to head.
I’ve spent way too many years on the fence, I’m convinced and I’m planning on buying my own Instax SQ6. This camera is rad, fun and produces quality shots.
Disclosure: I was sent the Fujifilm Instax SQ6 to review. It was returned after 2 weeks.