Appareil photo instantané Instax Square SQ10 de Fujifilm

Review: Instax Square SQ10 (Fujifilm)



With its Instax Square, also known as SQ10, Fujifilm continues to innovate and blaze the trail. Drawing inspiration from the already established Instax range, this model differs from them in that it produces square photos and includes advanced image revision functions before printing. Here is a detailed presentation and a complete review of the Instax Square, a creative and fun device.

The SQ10, a new member of the Instax family

The concept

The Instax Square is a new kind of Fujifilm device. This camera is on a whole new level despite its similarities with its cousins in the Polaroid range.
Definitely an hybrid camera, it is the first of the Instax line to feature advanced digital technology. Notably, it has an LCD screen that is used both for taking pictures and for editing images before printing. This last feature is user-friendly and fun! The device incorporates picture editing features and filters inspired, among other things, by Instagram.
The Instax Square can operate in Auto mode and behave like a true instant camera (like the Instax Mini 9, for example). But at the same time, it differs from previous Instax cameras in that it allows you to edit your photos and choose which ones you want to print on photo paper.
The camera works with Instax instant film, such as the Instax Mini and Instax Wide films, but it also has its own film, the Instax Square format. The SQ10 takes square pictures at a 1:1 ratio (the picture frame is rectangular). This format is an additional innovation in Fujifilm’s Instax product line.

The size of the images

The side of this square image is equal to the longest side of the Instax Mini format, and is also equivalent to the shortest side of the Wide format. The Instax Square format is therefore positioned as an intermediate format between Mini and Wide.

The choice of the square format and the use of filters is reminiscent of Instagram. But it also allows you to get closer to the original Polaroid image format. The latter is still slightly larger than the Instax Square format.

A picture is always better than a long speech. Here is a comparison of the Instax Square, Instax Wide, and Instax Mini formats (from left to right).

A picture is always better than a long speech. Here is a comparison of the Instax Square, Instax Wide, and Instax Mini formats (from left to right).

The design

The design of the SQ10 is quite refined. Albeit different from the Instax mini 8 and 9, it uses some of its visual references, with its rounded lines and large circular triggers.
On the front of the camera it has a lens positioned in the middle and on each side, it has a trigger button.
On the back, the 3.0-inch digital display takes up most of the available space. It is positioned above a wheel with a button in its center, both allowing you to navigate through the interfaces.
The SQ10 is currently only available in black. We can probably expect other colors to come out if the product becomes popular.

Shooting: operation and settings

Loading the film

The loading of the film is very similar to other Instax devices. A button located at the very top of the back of the device needs to be pressed to open the camera. An Instax Square film cartridge is then placed inside by matching the yellow mark on the cartridge with the one inside the unit. The two yellow rectangle markings must overlap. A child could do it.

Please note that the camera remains fully functional even if it is not loaded with a film cartridge. You can take pictures that you will edit and print later, after careful consideration of the optimal settings. A really practical feature.

My recipe for this image: Roppongi filter; Vignettage +60 ; Brightness -1/3.

My recipe for this image: Roppongi filter; Vignettage +60 ; Brightness -1/3.

Aiming

Unlike other Instax cameras, there is no viewfinder on the SQ10. The aiming is done through the digital screen on the back. You compose your image by holding the camera in front of you, like any other digital camera.

Focusing

The camera has an AutoFocus which points at the center of the screen. Another interesting feature: like any SLR camera, you can press the shutter button halfway to lock the focus and move the frame to compose your image.

The shutter release

The shutter release can be triggered with one of the two buttons on the front of the camera. Why are there two buttons? Fujifilm has actually designed it this way so left-handed people can use their left index finger to trigger the camera. You can configure the camera so that the unused button can switch between the different shooting modes: Standard, Bulb Mode, or Double exposure
We notice a small lag between two shots.

The double exposure

Double exposure allows you to combine two shots on the same picture. This feature isn’t revolutionary—but the system is particularly well thought out on this device. Once this mode is activated, you take a first picture, which you can confirm or cancel. After confirming it, you can compose the final image in real time by superimposing the first shot. You can preview in real time on the screen the rendering with the combination of the two images. Immediately after the trigger, you can also confirm the second shot or return to the previous step.

A double exposure. Martini filter, Vignette +20, Brightness left at 0.

A double exposure. Martini filter, Vignette +20, Brightness left at 0.

The bulb mode

The Instax Square also features a long exposure. It is inspired by the Instax Mini 90, and unfortunately, it also has some of its shortcomings: it is impossible to exceed 10 seconds of exposure, and the shutter cannot be released via the self-timer to gain in stability. The B mode cannot be combined with the double exposure to sequence several exposures and artificially extend the exposure. Fujifilm could have done better on this one.

Additional functions and options

The Instax Square has a relatively good flash system since it can be forced, disabled, or left in Auto mode. The SQ 10 also has a timer that releases the shutter either 2s or 10s after triggering.
Filters can be used as soon as the picture is taken and you can see the final rendering on the screen. You can also edit the picture right on the screen and test out different filters in real time.
In addition, you can focus on objects at a very close distance (up to 10 cm). A great feature.

The Auto and Manual modes

This camera includes an Auto mode for 100% instantaneous shots and a direct output of your images. But let’s be clear: you are unlikely to use this mode. If you choose to buy an Instax Square, it is mostly for the opportunity to select the photos you want to print and to edit them to your liking beforehand. With this camera, you can avoid failed shots, which are quite common in instant photography, especially with moving subjects. This reason, combined with the fact that Instax films are expensive, makes it quite temptating to use the Instax Square in its Manual mode only.

If you select the Auto mode, the Instax Square will print out the picture right after the shutter release. But let's be honest, you're unlikely to use this mode.

If you select the Auto mode, the Instax Square will print out the picture right after the shutter release. But let’s be honest, you’re unlikely to use this mode.

Image editing

Being able to touch-up and edit images in view mode is one of the nicest aspects of Instax Square and definitely one of device’s strongest assets.The SQ10 lets you browse through your images and apply your favorite filters.
Selecting a filter and adjusting the different effects is done very easily. You can quickly create the perfect picture by pressing the buttons around the central button and turning the adjustment wheel.

The filters

The filters can be selected by pressing on the top key. You can choose from the 10 different filters. The filter system is quite obviously inspired by Instagram, the famous social network based on image sharing.
In addition to the sepia and black/white filters, there are 8 effects that will adjust the dominant colors, contrasts, sharpness… We notice some redundancies but there’s enough variety to create a wide range of effects. We played around with different combinations. Another useful function allows you to copy an image from the internal memory to the SD card, and vice versa.
On the other hand, we regret not having a mode that allows us to compare the version being edited with the original one.

The settings for this image printed with an Instax Square: Highline filter, Vignette +20, brightness +1/3

The settings for this image printed with an Instax Square: Highline filter, Vignette +20, brightness +1/3

Vignette

The button at the top left allows you to adjust the vignetting. This allows you to control the brightness or darkness of the picture’s corners. This effect gives more visual weight to the center of the image. It’s a matter of personal taste. In my case, I always tend to slightly obscure the corners.

The brightness

You can brighten or darken the image of your choice by adjusting the brightness with the right button.
For both brightness and vignetting, the intensity of the effect is adjusted with the knob. A few notches in either direction will get you to the correct setting.

Reframing

If you are not completely satisfied with the composition, you can decide to zoom into a part of the image and move around. When you’re satisfied with what you see on the screen, you can start printing. The photo will be cropped and printed out as displayed on the screen. The image is not permanently cropped in the software. When you zoom out, you can view the entire image again.

The buttons on the back of the Instax Square make it easy to navigate between the different effects. Applying filters, adjusting the brightness or vignette levels..... is truly a delight.

The buttons on the back of the Instax Square make it easy to navigate between the different effects. Applying filters, adjusting the brightness or vignette levels….. is truly a delight.

The printing process

The button to access the printing setting is located at the bottom right and is recognizable by a green icon. When you decide which picture you want to print, press the print key, confirm, and there you go! The printing starts. A fun little synchronized animation shows the image disappearing from the screen and exiting the top of the device as it materializes right before your eyes.
The printed photo is sometimes slightly different from the image previewed on the screen. Small differences and details, such as the colors, are not always perfectly identical. We notice after some time that the color dominance of certain filters seems more pronounced on the screen. Sometimes, we also notice small artifacts that betray the digital nature of the image.
Pay particular attention to the brightness settings. Proceed with small touches. Even a slight adjustment of the brightness will appear exaggerated on the printed version. And conversely: if you darken your image a notch, it will appear much darker. In any case, it is better to adjust effects in small increments. We recommend not deviating too far away from the default settings.

Verdict

The Instax Square will be interesting to those who love Instax films, but aren’t instant photography purists, and are looking for better control over their pictures (compared to the Instax Mini).
With its wide range of effects and settings, the SQ 10 enables users to fully express their creativity. The delayed printing system allows them to choose the images they want to print on paper.
The Instax Square is more complete and technologically more advanced than other models in the Instax range, but it also comes at a higher price point… which may be a hard sell to some.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Instax Square

We like

  • How easy and fun it is to use
  • The diversity of its effects and filters
  • The ability to copy your images
  • … being able to print the same photo several times

We like less

  • Long time between two shots
  • Long exposure needs to be improved