Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera: A perfect Polaroid-style instant cam, or hyped-up flash in the pan?

I've owned a number of instant cameras in my days, most of which have been used and abused quite a few times.

While I love to shoot with them, it seems like each and every individual instant camera brings a different thing to the table, whether it be the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70's handy tripod socket, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300's extra-large photos, or the Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide's creative shooting modes.

It's difficult to find an instant camera that rolls a number of these handy features together, and while the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera may not be the Swiss Army Knife of the Polaroid-like camera world, it comes pretty damn near close with some of its more unique features, settings, film choices, and even color options.

First off, why an instant camera?

I know it's kind of hard to see the value in film cameras these days, especially if you're someone who's used to shooting with their iPhone or DSLR, but it is worth noting that instant film cameras in particular have a number of practical and creative reasons for existing.

Instant, Polaroid-like film cameras that print the image immediately are fantastic because they allow you to capture the memory in its raw, unedited format fast. You don't need to worry about tweaking saturation, levels, or contrast, because the camera is there to imprint the feel and memory of a moment, rather than an edited snapshot that we typically come across on social media every day.

In an even more practical sense, cameras like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 are great at social events and parties because they're durable enough to carry about and use in a high-energy environment (I've dropped mine once or twice — it helps to have a protective case, honestly, but even without it, it was still a'ight), are compact enough to slip into a purse or smaller bag, and are colorful, fun, and eye-catching enough to be the center of attention and a great conversation starter.

I just came back from a family wedding in Palm Springs where instead of a guestbook, the bride encouraged guests to snap photos with her Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 and stick them into a book. She had different colors and styles of film, and the book filled up quickly with memories of the ceremony, the extravagant sushi, donut, and cigar bars, and the drunken dancing of my not-so-coordinated family.

Long story short, instant cameras have their roles in today's society, whether it be practically (snapping quick images at a construction project for a report rather than snapping it, printing it off, cutting it out, and sticking it in) or at a party with a bunch of friends.

If it's instant, and the image is high-quality, then it can be instantly useful.

So why the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9?

Not only is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 a fantastic instant camera, but it's also just a great camera and camera accessory to have in your arsenal; whether you're a pro photographer or someone who just likes the look of a Polaroid-like snap for your #InstaAesthetic.

I've found more reasons to love the Instax Mini than I'd ever imagined despite its imperfections. I love going out knowing that I can only take a maximum of ten shots. Sometimes I take one, sometimes I use up the whole roll. Either way, knowing I have a limit forces me to consider the value of each shot I take. I love having to wait those sixty seconds to discover whether my image is one for the collection … or one for the bin. I love how the camera settings have been stripped down to the bare minimum so I can think more about the composition and less about the technicalities. I love how perfection never comes into the equation. It's an escape from today's world of megapixels, bokeh and sharpness. Capturing the moment itself becomes far more important than the quality of the image. (Heather, (Instant Camera Blog)

The camera brings a lot to the table in ways of both design, practicality, and photo quality. Most instant cameras are mainly point-and-click (most popular, slightly older models, anyways), but with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, you get four settings:

  • Indoors, Night (ƒ12.7)
  • Cloudy, Shade (ƒ16)
  • Sunny, Slightly cloudy (ƒ22)
  • Sunny and bright (ƒ32)

If you're still unsure of what setting to use, don't worry because the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 automatically determines the best brightness for taking your photo, and lets you know by lighting up the suggested setting with a flashing red indicator.

Another interesting and unique feature that the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 has that its predecessors and competition does not is a selfie mirror that allows you to easily snap a selfie of yourself with your Instax, something that was possible but super hard to do with previous models (I spent many an hour trying to find the best angles I could in my mirror…)

As someone who loves shooting macro photography (check out my Instagram @hellorousseau, yo), a really interesting addition I fell in love with in regards to the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the close-up lens attachment — a macro-ish feel for your instant camera, so to say. This little attachment allows you to get up to 35cm away from a subject in order to capture it on film, allowing you to get a bit more creative with how you shoot with your Fujifilm Instax Mini 9.

Oh! And did I mention the color selection? You can pick from one of four vibrant (and one pretty professional) camera colors, including cobalt blue, ice blue, flamingo pink, lime green, and if you're all about that more business-y look, then you'll love the smokey white.

What about the film?

Fujifilm products on table

Fujifilm products on table (Image credit: iMore)

Not only are the camera colors fun and creative, but the film styles, colors, and designs are also what makes the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 so much fun to use.

You can get film for your camera like…

The price

You cap pick up your very own Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 for around $60.

Final thoughts


hero-fujifilm-instax (Image credit: Fujifilm)

If you're looking for a reliable, well-made, and most importantly, fun tool to add to your photography arsenal, then the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a great option to keep in mind.

It's not a terribly expensive piece of equipment, and the film is bound to cost you way more in the long run than the camera ever will (keep an eye out for those local sales! They pop up at Staples and Walmart from time to time), but the novelty and practicality of getting your images in a snap is always appealing, even in this age of digital photo excellence.

If you're looking for an instant camera, then the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the right way to go.

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Cella Lao Rousseau

Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau