Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

Review: Instax Mini 8



Fujifilm is clearly aiming its entry-level Instax Mini 8 at a young audience with its colorful selection and young girls with fringes on its packages. What is the Instax 8 worth? Is it a good “polaroid” camera to get started with instant photography? We reviewed the device and noted its strengths and weaknesses.

The Instax 8 is available in many colors. There is something for everyone’s taste, from tangy pop colors to subdued black or white. For my part, I chose black, but even for this very sober looking model, the packaging is covered with “emo” teenagers with heart-shaped mouths. The message is very clear: this Fujifilm model is aimed at a young generation eager to try instant photography.

If you want to get this type of effect in your images, read this article on color filters for the Instax Mini.

If you want to get this type of effect in your images, read this article on color filters for the Instax Mini.

Simple and effective

The finishes on this device are made of plastic. It is lightweight, compact, and can fit in one hand. It doesn’t feel robust and I think a bad fall is likely to seriously damage it…oh well, I know you will tell me that few devices are designed to survive crashes on the ground.
The Instax Mini 8 works, as its name suggests, with the instant film “Instax Mini”, (image size 46 x 62mm). This is a good quality film that reproduces colors, details, and above all, creates true instant photography with images developing within 5 minutes of the shooting. The Instax Mini 8 produces good images, and I find it particularly effective in relatively short distances shots: 1m to 1.50m.

The sleeve of the Instax Mini is 54 x 86mm, while the image itself occupies a surface of 46 x 62mm

The sleeve of the Instax Mini is 54 x 86mm, while the image itself occupies a surface of 46 x 62mm

The Instax 8 is very easy to use. A colored marker tells you which way to load the photo cartridges in the back of the camera. As soon as the back is closed, the view counter located at the bottom of the back shifts to 10. It will decrease as you take pictures, allowing you to know how many pictures you have left. A button on the front panel allows the retractable lens to come out of the camera, turning it on at the same time.
The only setting you can control is the exposure mode that is most appropriate for the brightness level of the subject you want to shoot. You are assisted by an indicator which tells you what is the most suitable choice. Each mode corresponds to a particular icon: a house (interior), a cloud, no sun, big sun… easy.
An original touch: the presence of a Hi-Key mode. This mode produces a very clear image, an effect used in portraiture and fashion photography.

The limitations of the Instax Mini 8

This exposure system seems quite simple in theory, however using it can sometimes be tedious: if you rely on the indicator to determine the appropriate mode, you have to point the camera in the direction of your subject by holding it at chest height, for example, then look at the indicator lighting up above the lens and turn the wheel to select it. In a way, we evaluate the exposure by looking at the camera before choosing the setting.

We regret not having a visual reminder of the selected exposure mode in the viewfinder to avoid having to aim first “for nothing”. An indicator light to warn you of an underexposure or overexposure would have been nice too.
For me, the most frustrating aspect of the Instax Mini 8 is the unreliability of the viewfinder. The framing you compose with it won’t match with the picture you pull out. It is therefore very difficult to create a nice composition unless you anticipate and compensate for the offset. This defect alone is enough to discourage photographers who are a bit demanding.

The Instax Mini 8 is able to create nice indoor pictures with its flash, over short distances.

The Instax Mini 8 is able to create nice indoor pictures with its flash, over short distances.

Several points lead me to believe that the device is designed for indoor use rather than outdoor use.

  • The flash fires systematically regardless of the mode you choose, as if it wanted to make sure that there was enough light.
  • Outdoor shots, taken when the light is abundant and with the appropriate setting (sun symbol), are easily burned and overexposed, to the point that I think it’s better to avoid taking pictures on sunny days. I also saw small black dots on some of the pictures. From what I read here and there, this could be typical of the Instax Mini films when exposed to bright lighting.
  • Finally, my whole experience with the camera fits quite well with the promises on the packaging, which only shows portraits made indoors.

… to be more accurate, we’ll say that the Instax Mini is quite capable of making beautiful pictures outdoors, but can be quite capricious under certain light conditions.

Here’s a scenario that could be challenging for the Instax Mini 8: a very sunny seaside landscape at 2pm. Even with the exposure set to full sun, the image is completely overexposed. Also noteworthy: I made sure to crop out the dock from my composition. However, it shows up on the final image, it is the black line on the right.

Here’s a scenario that could be challenging for the Instax Mini 8: a very sunny seaside landscape at 2pm. Even with the exposure set to full sun, the image is completely overexposed. Also noteworthy: I made sure to crop out the dock from my composition. However, it shows up on the final image, it is the black line on the right.

The carrying case, an essential accessory

Right off the bat, I equipped my device with the official small carrying case. Its shoulder strap is very practical to walk around and the case provides it with effective protection against shocks.
Moreover, my case probably added a few more years to my camera’s life. I was outside, juggling with different devices (that’s what happens when you bring too many of them) and the camera just slipped out of my hands and ended up on the ground (this is the first time I drop one, by the way).
When I took it out of its case, the battery compartment cover had blown out. Eventually, I had to replace the cartridge because the shock caused a slight shift of the film and the camera would no longer eject a photo when I triggered. I dried my tears (“15€ and I only took two freaking pictures!”) and accepted the fact that I had to change the cartridge. I noticed two flaws with this case, not a deal breaker but still slightly annoying:

  • 1- The frame counter is no longer accessible as there isn’t an opening to take a look at it. This makes it hard to know where you stand.
  • 2- Sometimes the edge of the case obstructs the viewfinder and I have to push it away or adjust the position of the camera in the bag to see clearly through the viewfinder.
My

My Instax Mini 8 in its black carrying case

Verdict

The camera focuses above all on providing a fun, no-hassle photographic experience and in this respect it does the job quite well thanks to its minimalist settings and lightweight design. It will not only please young girls but will also satisfy those who want to try instant photography on a limited budget. The Instax Mini 8 will allow them to get used to using Instax film, which is very interesting to work on and gives good results.

The more experienced photographers, who would like to have a camera that offers more possibilities and performs better in advanced use, are better off choosing a more sophisticated model from the Fujifilm Instax range, such as the Instax Mini 70, which is positioned above the Mini 8.

Advantages of Instax Mini 8

  • The cheapest device in its class
  • Easy to handle
  • Many accessories

Disadvantages of the Instax Mini 8

  • Inaccurate viewfinder
  • Very few settings and functions
  • Flash fires almost systematically