The Instax mini 99 could pass for a real Fujifilm camera

Fujifilm’s Instax cameras have been around for a while. They pick up where Polaroid left off, offering instant photo prints in cute frames. Over the years, the company experimented with pastel colors. retro styles, hybrid digital and manual photography and even collaboration Pokemon and Taylor Swift.

New Instax mini 99which is released this month, comes in black. It’s more like me X-T2 and Fujifilm models other than Polaroid. From a distance, it looks like an expensive digital camera, even though it costs only $200. When you start fiddling with it, you might be a little disappointed with the plastic build. Still, there are parts where Fuji has enriched the camera with elaborate elements, such as a tripod mount converter and some controls.

With a matte finish, the Instax mini 99 looks more professional, if not cooler, than most of its predecessors. While it doesn’t have any hybrid digital camera features, it offers more versatility than almost any other instant camera.

Fujifilm Instax mini 99 reviewFujifilm Instax mini 99 review

Matt Smith for Engadget

There are plenty of controls for the instant camera, including three shooting options with different focal lengths. You twist the lenses to switch between landscape, macro and standard settings, and each is (thankfully) marked with a distance marker so you can see your shot at its best. Although there is a viewfinder, it won’t be calibrated based on your shooting mode. Again, let’s not forget that this is an instant camera. However, with the mini 99 you get access to filters and some basic exposure options.

These filters try to strike those nostalgic chords. Normal is your typical shooting mode and has pale green, soft purple, light blue, warm tone and of course sepia.

Meanwhile, light leakage sort of ruins your shots with the built-in LEDs inside the camera and adds a burnout effect to your photos when they’re taken. What impressed me even more were the more shooting modes, the ability to take double exposure shots, the manual vignette switch (almost always on when I was shooting) and even the fill flash, red eye removal and auto flash options. . There is also a sports mode that tries to prevent blur when shooting moving objects. The images weren’t sharp, but the mode captured everything a bit sharper than the auto mode.

That’s a lot for an instant camera, and I found that half the fun was experimenting with modes and shooting effects. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call every shot a risk, it’s been so long since I’ve used any film that every time I reach for the shutter release (of which there are two), I’ve worked harder. to nail framing and composition – probably more than digital.

Many of the shots I took (at a family birthday party with babies and toddlers constantly on the move) were in ideal sunny outdoor lighting, but indoors or in places with less light in general, I leaned heavily on the blur, which blurred the light. most of the photos.

Fujifilm Instax mini 99 reviewFujifilm Instax mini 99 review

Matt Smith for Engadget

If you haven’t owned an Instax in the last decade (or three), the learning curve is a bit steep. Each mess shot is about a dollar. But with each attempt, you begin to measure lighting and focal distances better. An hour and ten hours later, I got some great shots of my nieces birthday party, even catching them looking at the camera in some cases. In some photos I seemed to get the focal length right, but that was the exception rather than the rule. Fortunately, half the appeal is out-of-focus highlights, off-center frames, and other happy accidents. I choosed to apply a light bleed effect – why complain if it’s not as sharp as my iPhone 15 Pro?

If Fujifilm tries to make another premium Instax mini, there are a few things I’d like to see it address. First, add a small mirror to take a photo with the lens facing your face. Many cameras offer a small mirror surface so you can easily tell you’re pointing in the right direction. An attempt at a selfie with my niece almost cut her out of the frame. Also, to charge the Instax mini 99, you need to remove the battery and insert it into the included charger with a USB cable. This is too much hassle and Fujifilm should offer a simpler method in the future. Fortunately, I never needed to charge the camera as I shot over 20 shots.

The Instax mini 99 uses the same small Instax film as the other models, but with more controls, options and effects, it makes an attempt to be a premium instant camera. Film is still expensive, yes, and the device seems a little cheap for the price, but ultimately it delivers satisfying instant photo moments.

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