In a time when cameras are getting smaller and every scene becomes a digital image at a tap on a smartphone screen, are prints still relevant?
Fujifilm’s Instax SQ10 aims to prove that they are. Following the wide success enjoyed by previous Instax models as the cutest niche product for print enthusiasts and go-to girlfriend gift of the past millennium, the brand tries its hand at a digital/analog camera hybrid.
The newest Instax is a serious-looking thing
Unlike the cutesy, colorful Instax cameras of the past, the SQ10 comes in a very serious black with a clean silver finish.
Everything is square including the film
This new film is being used for the first time on the SQ10. It’s bigger than Instax Mini’s prints but smaller than Instax Wide’s.
It’s a beautiful display of symmetry
Everything from the double shutters found on both sides of the camera, to the center flash, to buttons on the rear, are designed to be completely balanced. I must admit, although the camera packs more weight than I expected, it feels really good in my hands.
And of course, it prints on film!
The defining feature of any Instax camera: its analog film printing.
But now, there are choices
The unique thing about the SQ10 is that despite developing captured images on film, the camera itself is digital. Unlike Instax predecessors that were wholly mechanical, this particular model captures photographs the same way your smartphone does. Even without printing, your photos may be safely stored in a microSD card. This camera does not have Bluetooth capabilities and, consequently, you’d have to physically plug in the memory card to another device to copy or post the digital photos online. Not a problem, really, because a cuter post would be a photo of the printed Instax itself.
Additionally, this means that a simple switch will allow you to edit photos on this camera before printing — which includes filters, vignette, and exposure. It’s basically Instagram fun transferred to a camera for printing.
There’s a learning curve, though
There is an extra layer of navigating through the camera menu when you edit before printing. That, added to the unfamiliar way the buttons are arranged, can get a little confusing — especially if you’ve never used an Instax before. Unlike using Bluetooth photo printers and digital camera printers, this camera’s controls don’t feel as intuitive to digital natives used to tapping away on touchscreens.
Then, there’s the film which, as we 90s kids know, may be overexposed and ruined with one wrong move. I don’t expect young millennial SnapChatters to get this concept right off the bat, and honestly, it can get tricky. Even aware of film’s fickle nature, I managed to waste a couple of shots.
Once you get the hang of it though, it gets fairly easy and there’s nowhere to go but… out, to take more pictures!
Is this your GadgetMatch?
Get the Instax SQ10 if you’re a sentimental, nostalgic fool who likes preserving moments, all the while being a perfectionist when it comes to #feedgoals and photography. (I say fool in the most loving way.)
One big mistake when considering getting this camera is measuring it up against digital cameras in the market. Granted, it may be a digital camera, it’s still on a league of its own. The SQ10 is Fuji’s first attempt at a hybrid, and it seems like it’s going in a pretty good direction.
There’s one thing that stops me from getting this camera, however: the very steep price. Unlike the Instax cameras of the past, this particular model isn’t so friendly to your pockets. The SQ10 retails for a whopping US$ 280, and a pack of 10 film exposures will cost you US$ 17 in the US. In the Philippines, it’s priced at PhP 14,999 for the SQ10 and PhP 550 for a box of film. Indian pricing is at INR 22,999 for the SQ10 and INR 699 for film.