When it comes to instant cameras, the Instax Mini series is one of the most popular ones out there, thanks to its inexpensive nature and easy-to-use operations. While the Instax Mini 9 ruled the charts for several years, we have a new camera joining this lineup—the Instax Mini 11. This one succeeds the Mini 9 and brings home an attractive package at an interesting price point. Another new camera from Fujifilm to hit the market is the Instax Square SQ1.
This instant camera is the successor to the popular Instax Square SQ6. Like its counterpart, it's film-based and packs an attractive square body. More importantly, it delivers Instagram like square prints.
So, which instant camera should you buy? Well, that's what we are going to find in this post today as we compare the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 against the Instax Mini 11.
As it's going to be a long post, let's start right away, shall we?
One of the first things that you will notice about the newer Instax SQ1 is its compact build. Staying true to its name, it embraces a squarish design that is easier to hold, and well, it's not bad to look at either. It's indeed a little difficult to ignore the boxiness of the camera but considering that you will be getting larger prints, I'd say it's a good bargain.
The SQ1 skips some Instax SQ6 features, such as the Selfie Timer, Double Exposures, Landscape mode, etc. If you recollect, these were some of the features that helped the SQ6 stand apart.
Moving on, Instax SQ1 carries beautifully rounded edges and that contributes to the ergonomics of the camera. It embraces the usual Fujifilm traits such as an automatic film counter at the rear, shutter button, and viewfinder on the right and left sides. The area beneath the Shutter button has been textured to aid on the camera's grip.
And guess what, there's a selfie mirror on top of the lens barrel. So, all you need to do is turn the camera towards you and smile. Since it doesn't have a selfie timer, you might have to rely on your instincts to get the perfect shot.
As noted above, you will get slightly bigger photos than the credit-card-sized photos of the Instax Mini 11. If we talk numbers, the photo measures around 2.4 x 2.4 inches and staying closer to its roots, the photos are accompanied by a thick white border.
As opposed to the square design, the Instax Mini 11 looks quite similar to the Mini 9. On first glance, both the Mini 9 and Mini 11 looks almost the same. However, a closer look will reveal that the Mini 11 has now adopted a slimmer and sleeker body. Like it, the Instax Mini 11 also uses the 2.4 x 1.8-inch Instax film.
One of the common things about both the Instax Square SQ1 and the Instax Mini 11 is Auto-exposure. Yep, Fujifilm has done away with the system of manual exposure. So, all you need to do is point the camera and shoot. The addition of this new feature also means that the flash will fire automatically at all times, even when you capture photos during the day.
Another feature that is common to both the camera is the selfie mode. The Mini 11 and the Instax Square SQ1 bundles an extended lens barrel. So, when you have to click a selfie, you need to pull out the lens barrel, point it towards yourself and click. Another use of this lens setup is for capturing objects with close focus.
When it comes to the specifications, the differences are minute. While the SQ1 shutter speed can vary between 1/6 to 1/400, the Instax Mini 11's shutter speed varies between 1/2 and 1/250. In the case of the former, it allows you to capture better in low light.
Overall, both the camera packs almost similar specs with minor changes in the shutter speed and F-stops. However, when it comes to operating it, they are quite similar. Point & shoot and the moment will be frozen on a piece of film paper.
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Battery Life and Type
If you have the older Instax 9, things won't change much, as far as the battery is concerned. The two AA batteries power the Mini 11.
A single pair will see you through 100 photos or 10 packs at a time. That is quite decent, and if you want to shoot more than that, simply get a pair of rechargeable batteries (see Energizer Rechargeable Battery Charger) to back you up.
Though we would have loved to see a rechargeable battery unit inside, the good thing is that AA batteries are quite easy to come by and the odds are that you will find them in your neighborhood grocery store.
On the other hand, the SQ1 is powered by CR2 batteries. They are a tad difficult to come by, but the good news is that they last longer than their conventional counterparts. The company claims that the included CR2 batteries will get you around 300 snaps before calling it a day.
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Performance and Image Quality
In the last few years, Fujifilm has amped up its camera's optics, and now, you will get better-looking and more colorful snaps. The SQ1 performs better in outdoor environments and serves up snaps with punchy and vivid colors, and they are well-detailed. As noted above, the flash is always on, which proves to be a bonus in low-light areas.
A major change is the introduction of Square Monochrome film. Yeah, you can take your camera out for a spin and see the world in Black & White. This new film is priced at around $14.99 per pack.
When it comes to photo quality, the Instax 11 doesn't disappoint either. The photos appear natural and have their share of details, contrast, and colors. You will see less of overexposed skies or pitch-black background in low light, and that's definitely a plus.
In both cases, you will see an old-world charm, and if you ask me, that is the very basis of instant film and instant cameras.
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Hey, Fun Days!
So, which camera should you choose? Well, it eventually depends on the shape of the photos you want. If you would like your photos to resemble your Instagram posts, the Instax Square camera is the one you should have. Fujifilm has done away with the complicated features and has turned the Instax SQ1 into an easy-to-use point & shoot camera.
However, the price per print is a little on the steeper side, and a single shot will cost you around $1.
On the other hand, the Instax Mini 11 is affordable and costs you $50 less than the Instax SQ1, and capturing and printing a single photo will cost you less than a dollar (a set of two Instax Mini Film pack costs around $14.99).