The Instax Mini 90 by Fujifilm is the newest camera in their credit card sized instant photography range. The Mini 90 is a follow up to the almost forgotten Instax Mini 50 series. What separates the Mini 90 and 50s before it from the colorful Instax 7(s) and 8 is the ability to customize your shot with advance settings while still being point and shoot. Included on the camera are multiple flash settings, basic lighting options, more shooting modes, a timer, and a tripod socket. New to this version alone however are the bulb and double exposure mode and a rechargeable battery which makes this camera the best they come up with for mini instant photography. The 90 also give offers instead of the bright colors and oddly shaped body of the 7 & 8’s a plastic and leather combination that holds and feels more like a camera (a design they’ve termed Neo Classic). Shoot modes include: Standard, Marco, Party, Kids, Landscape, Double Exposure and Bulb with 4 lighting modes of Normal, Light, Lighter, and Dark. As well you have Flash modes: automatic, forced firing, suppressed, and red eye reduction with option to turn on a self-timer for 1 or two shots.
Now for example photos and my review, you can also check out my Instax Film Guide.
At the time I bought it last summer I was really wondering if it was worth it, especially as I really had my eye on the old Mini 50S in piano finish which was the same price as the Mini 8 and had almost identical features to the Mini 90 besides being the older model. However if shoot often with instant film and enjoy having a new camera with accessibility to film – this camera will make you much happier than its contemporaries. Before I start reviewing and dissecting the Instax Mini 90, I want to state that I emphatically believe that it is the best camera option for mini instant film, even beyond the range of Fujifilm’s own cameras (hello Lomo’Instant) and the price is worth it. The only opposition to buying it over the others is personal preference for how it looks , not wanting to buy the higher price point (I bought mine for $60 more than the Instax Mini 8 but slightly cheaper than the Lomo’Instant) and the biggest one, no accessories (additional lens types and colourful cases). Like with any Instax film camera there is plenty of faults you can find with all of them including manual options, ability to use in all situation, and the viewfinder in name a few. If you want my opinion the best instant camera would be a vintage Polaroid camera compatible with current FujifilmFP100-C film but we are talking about cameras that use mini Instax film so I will digress. In my experience the Instax Mini 90 is the strongest out of them all and there is no element to it that is weaker or inferior to any other model when it comes to its technology.
The modes works well and allow you to use the camera in almost any situation. My favourite modes are the Party, Landscape and standard which I use constantly and get great results. My least favourite is Macro which I’ve never successful gotten a clear shot with despite trying various distance and subject matter. My second least favourite is Multiple Exposure, I know it might be hard to believe that someone who posts bi-weekly double exposures doesn’t enjoy this mode but I don’t. The results it gives me are easily over exposed with little details and I just can’t get behind it. I also not one to do typical multiple exposures so maybe the average person would still love this (I know it’s why I decided to buy the camera in the end). The other modes, Kids and Bulb I never use – I don’t know why I just don’t. One thing I will mention while I’m talking about the modes is the fact that Party and Kids for some reason do not allow you to shoot with no flash on. It infuriates me because unless I’m indoors or its night I mostly shoot with no flash and for them to arbitrarily not allow you, pisses me off especially since I use Party mode a lot. Although it can be said that the Mini 7/8’s don’t even have real modes so my negatives comments you have to take into perspective anything is better than nothing.
The automatic Normal lighting is really good and versatile although it can be tricky as I’ve noticed at certain times in the afternoon you tend you get blue tinted photos for some reason. On bright sunny days when you are not shooting in shadows I recommend Dark as Normal will always be too bright. As for Light it’s good to use when shooting in shadows, but I haven’t had good experience using it in the afternoon as the sun is going down as it tends to make images more blurry and oddly have little contrast. Lighter is useless and blurry and has over exposed all dark situations I’ve used it on. Keep in mind I am referring to shooting by the hand as most people I am assume are not shooting with tripods. The two lighter options would drastically improve if used on a tripod as my biggest concern is the how blurry they are (I haven’t not tried this so I might be wrong). Lastly DON’T point at the sun; you will always get a black hole that ruins the shot.
For the flash modes as I’ve stated I solo try to shoot with the flash off. However I have used it at night and indoor and the default flash and red eye flash work great. It’s powerful and doesn’t wash out too much if things are at a good distance. However you want to make sure your subjects are not too close, I’d say anything an arm reach away (sorry all selfies will be over exposed ghosts). As for Non-flash I love, I do not trust any camera to know when the lighting is okay for flash or not, one reason why the Mini 90 is amazing because you can turn that off. But by default the automatic flash will be on and if you accidently leave it on, or are in the two modes that you can’t turn off the flash it will be a drunk fool and shoot in the middle of a sunny day just because. Automatic flash is the worst thing in any camera, full stop. Another peeve of mine is that I have to reselect the flash mode anytime I change the shooting mode, it’s annoying and it leads to that automatic flash being on when I didn’t realize and blinding someone during the middle of the day.
The viewfinder for me is the most frustrating part of the camera. I feel like I have a better time shooting if I ignored it completely. However when you are spending so much money per shot, it’d be nice to actually be able to frame it and what you see in the viewfinder is never what you’ll get. I’ve even started to try and figure out how to compensate for it and that just ends me up with worse shots. Now I’ve used the other versions and they are worse but I have to point it out because I’d love a true viewfinder and it’s a sour point in all the Instax cameras.
One thing on the camera I cannot fault is the battery. For starts it has a rechargeable battery which I could just stop there as that’s already such an improvement. However not only do you no longer have to buy and carry around replacement batteries that weigh down you and your camera but the battery is amazing. I’ve owned the camera for a year and a half and charged it twice; once when it arrived and again a second time this summer. Now I don’t use the flash that often but it blows my mind that it lasts that long. The camera also has ‘selfie’ mirror on the front which is just the highly reflective shutter button that I didn’t even notice was there (I now no longer wonder why all mine turn out framed so badly). Speaking of things I didn’t notice, there are two shutter buttons on the camera. The top shutter is in the convention shutter button area and the second is on the front acting as the mirror and with the power switch around it – who knew? I use the one on the top exclusively and forgot the other even existed until now. Holding the camera now to test it I don’t know what position I’d be holding the camera in where that button would be more useful and comfortable that the other one. Luckily for me I’ve never accidently used it so it’s still a good design in my books as it’s there for people who want it but it doesn’t get in the way either. Other random features are the back mode screen and the film counter which do their job well. Only thing I can note is the film counter has on occasion told me the incorrect number of film available but that was after the camera was jammed in my bag and took 5 shots of the inside and one other time when I opened the back while having power on the camera. There is also a tripod mount that I have not used but it’s one of those musts and not enough toy cameras have one so I appreciate it. It also came with a very nice, fashionable and long leather neck strap that I love, and you can change it out for any other type of strap like a hand one. It’s also really light which probably in part has to do with not using batteries for power, and being the smallest of Instax camera. The size of it also makes it easy to fit into any of my smaller bags, you can load up with packs of film and still have plenty of room.