Lately, the instant camera market has seen a lot of growth. While the Instax Mini 9 is a clear favorite of many, Fujifilm's Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant (yep, that's the official name) has earned pretty good reviews until now. It comes with a 60mm lens capable of focusing on an object as close as 11 inches.
Another one on the list is the slightly differently named Lomo'Instant Automat, from the house of Lomography. With a unique look and color, this instant camera is meant for photography lovers. But is that the case?
Well, we are going to find that out in our post today.
Let the games begin.
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Unlike digital cameras, which you can easily fit into your trouser pocket, instant cameras aren't that flexible due to their bulky design. And as you might have expected, both the Lomo'Instant Automat and the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 fall under this category.
Though they are bulky, both the cameras retain the look of a conventional camera.
As far as the Lomo'Instant Automat is concerned, the lens, flash, LED indicators and the viewfinder are at the front, while the rear houses the control switches for the flash & exposure compensation and a cavity for the film.
The shutter button acts as a selfie mirror, and there's no dedicated On/Off button. All you need is to do is twist the lens to turn on the camera.
Overall, the camera looks a bit unusual, being a bit boxy and a little bit too boxy. But with colors like South Beach and Bora Bora, the odds are that you'll enjoy its looks when you pull it out of your bag.
When it comes to the Instax flagship, Mini 90 sports a slightly curvy look. The fair amount of rounded edges ends up giving this camera a smooth feel. Plus, the curvy design also makes it easier to hold.
The front has the 60mm mechanically-operated lens along with a Flash, power swivel, and the viewfinder. All these three components are housed close together, which gives it a clean look, unlike the Lomo'Instant Automat. Plus, the back panel is pretty clean. And the film count and the buttons blend in with the rest of the body, giving it a uniform look.
And similar to it, the Instax Mini 90's shutter button doubles up as a selfie mirror.
The Lomo'Instant Automat comes with a set of colored filters to give a unique look to your images. All you need to do is put them inside the flash box, and you're good to go. You can also opt for a few adapter lenses (close-up, wide-angle, or fish-eye) if you want to extend the possibilities of your photography game.
Also, the viewfinder gives you an approximation of your shot. It won't give you the exact image in print.
Moreover, with this camera, focusing is a manual business. Thus, you'd need to gauge the focusing distance to find the sweet spot.
On the other hand, the Instax Mini 90 can easily double up as a point-and-shoot, as per the guys at PC Mag. You won't become a photography star overnight, but you will get there slowly once. Also, it lets you have a bit of control over your photos. For instance, you can choose to lighten or darken the image when you're not satisfied.
Also, while there's no real focus mode, you can switch between the macro and landscape modes to capture objects and landscapes.
At this point, you must remember that the Lomo'Instant Automat also comes with three shooting modes - Close for portraits, Mid-range, and Infinity for shooting landscapes.
Also, both cameras let you experiment with multiple exposure and bulb mode. While the first one is pretty much self-explanatory, the second one is a long exposure mode which keeps the shutter open for around 30-seconds.
With instant cameras, you can't expect a digital camera like quality. In some cases, you may end up with perfect photos while you may end up with under-exposed images. That's the real thrill of owning an instant camera. But if you're paying $200, you expect more of the former and less of the latter.
When it comes to the Instax Mini 90, you'll end up with some natural and great-looking photos. The only thing you'll have to keep in mind is keeping the flash on, at times, since this one sports a small f/12.7 fixed aperture. As per the guys at The Verge, you can expect the Neo Classic to produce somewhat accurate colors for skin tones and the likes.
On the same line, the images from the Lomo'Instant Automat are bright and punchy, as per the guys at Photography Blog. Similar to the Fujifilm camera, you'd have to resort to the flash in somewhat darker conditions, or use a different exposure mode.
Mind you that instant camera photos also tend to bring their share of lens flare and color saturation, which brings the fun element to instant photos.
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When it comes to the battery, the Lomo'Instant Automat two CR2 (3V) batteries. While they are not rare, these batteries are also not easy to find. You may get them in the big gadget stores. However, you may not find these batteries easily. On the bright side, these batteries last quite long.
On the other hand, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is powered by a slim rechargeable NP-45S battery. This one slides easily to the back of the camera and should give you around 100 shots per recharge. However, there's no option for in-camera charging. Now, isn't that cool.
Which One to Buy
Well, it depends. Both the instant cameras fall in the same price segment (under $200). While Fujifilm has carved a good name for itself in the camera world, Lomography is a fairly new name. And that is visible in the Amazon reviews.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 has more than 1,500 customer reviews, while the Lomo'Instant Automat has less then 20 reviews. Thankfully, the ones so far are on the positive side for the Lomo'Instant Automat.
On the other hand, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 has over 76% positive reviews with user praising its picture quality, among other things.
So, if you want to try out something new and at the same time want your camera to stand out in public, I'd recommend the Lomo'Instant Automat. But if you'd rather trust an old name, the dual-tone Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 ain't bad either.
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