Even though we live in the age of digital photography with standalone cameras and even our smartphones, retro instant photography is making a comeback of sorts. There are a ton of different instant cameras on the market today, and one of the more popular ones we've seen is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9.
With the Instax Mini 9, you get a cute instant camera body that comes in several fun colors (including a few retailer exclusives), and it's highly affordable as well, costing only around $50 for the base colors. But is it worth a purchase? Let's find out!
Price: $50Bottom line: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a fun and affordable instant camera for hobbyists. It has a few different scene modes that automatically adjust for the best lighting, and the automatic flash goes off when you're in low-light situations. There's a selfie mirror to help you capture great self-portraits too. Prints come out quickly, and the image fully develops in 3-4 minutes. And since this camera model is quite popular, it's never hard to find the Instax Mini film.
- Plenty of color options for everyone
- Highly affordable price tag
- Automatic exposure measurement and flash
- Selfie mirror
- Film is very easy to find
- Somewhat bulky design
- No support for microSD card
- Can't manually adjust exposure
- Uses AA batteries
A fun hobby camera
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: Features
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is probably one of the most recognizable instant cameras on the market today due to the unique and charming body design. It's quite bulky like the old cameras, and the variety of colors that it comes in makes it quirky and personable to the owner. No matter which color you choose for your tastes, people will recognize it, even from afar.
If you're worried about how to carry it around due to the bulky design, don't worry — Fujifilm provides a matching lanyard strap to go with your camera. It's also rather cute, adding to the overall personality of the device.
Turning the Instax Mini 9 is easy, as all you need to do is push the power button located underneath the lens. When the camera is on, the lens opens up and comes out, and a red light on the viewfinder lets you know everything's ready to go. If the AA batteries are low, the red light flashes.
With the Instax Mini 9, you won't have to worry about manually adjusting the aperture and exposure to get the right lighting in a photo. Instead, it's all done automatically, and you can check what scene setting the camera is using by looking at the dial above the lens. The LED light turns on for the suitable setting, and all you need to do is make sure that the dial's notch is lined up with that scene for optimal output. The "Hi-Key" option gives you photos with a softer impression once printed.
A new feature with this version, as opposed to the previous Instax Mini 8, is the addition of the selfie mirror in the front, next to the lens. This helps you line up your selfie shot when no one else is around, and it's large enough to see yourself without being too obtrusive.
Once a shot is taken, the Instax Mini 9 spits out the print at the top of the camera. The image begins to develop on the film after about 30 seconds to a minute and should be fully developed between 3-4 minutes.
It's charming and quirky
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: What I Like
After testing out a few different instant cameras in the recent weeks, I personally still enjoy using my Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. Even though there's no support for digital copies of the snaps I take, I don't mind, because if I wanted a digital copy, I would simply use my iPhone XS.
While I normally dislike bulky items, there's something about the design of the Instax Mini 9 that I like. It looks like a kid's toy, but perhaps that's what makes it so charming. And while I don't have a carrying case for it, I feel that the plastic casing is fairly durable and the lanyard makes it easy to take with me.
I also enjoy that the camera automatically tells you what scene setting to use (dependent on current lighting situation) because it simplifies the process of snapping and printing—it's just one less thing to think about. However, you do need to adjust the dial to the appropriate position before pushing that shutter button down, which I don't mind. The clickity-clackity feel of the dial is also quite novel, giving you the feeling that you're working with a professional DSLR or something.
My favorite thing about the Instax Mini 9 is how fast prints come out. I also have the Polaroid Mint Digital Camera and Printer, and I found the speed at which it prints photos out to be a bit long and annoying. With the Instax Mini 9, the sheet of film comes out immediately, and you just watch the image develop, just like the good old days.
And since the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is available at several different retailers (those exclusive colors are nice), it's not hard at all to find basic film to stock up on. And if you're interested in spicing things up, there are even various designs and colors for the Instax Mini Film available, though these will need to be purchased online since retailers like Target and Best Buy only have the default white and maybe one or two different designs.
It's a budget instant camera and it shows
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: What I Don't Like
Even though I understand that the design of the camera is part of the charm, the bulkiness of it does make it hard to carry around. It's definitely something that you'll want to look into getting a carrying case for, at the very least.
Another thing that I found a little annoying is the fact that it uses two AA batteries. While this means it's one less thing you need to recharge with a cable, it does mean that you'll need to have some AA batteries stocked up around the house. It may not be a big deal for some, but if you are used to rechargeable things, then having to grab some batteries is just another hassle. At least the battery life will last a good while before you need to change the batteries out.
While the automatic exposure adjustment is meant to simplify things, it also means less overall control in the final image. If you prefer to have complete control over how the final outcome will be, then this would definitely be more annoying than helpful.
Lastly, I'm a little disappointed with the lack of microSD card support. Many other digital instant cameras on the market have support for a microSD card, allowing users to have digital copies of their snaps. Perhaps it's to help keep the cost of the Instax Mini 9 low, but I hope that one day, Fujifilm decides to add support for microSD cards. It would be a nice feature that I believe is worth paying a little extra for.
A fun instant camera for those on a budget
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: The Bottom Line
If you're on a budget but want to get into the world of instant camera photography, then the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a great place to start. It's highly affordable at only around $50 for the base colors, and it makes life simple with automatic exposure adjustment and flash. The prints come out fast and develop over a few moments, so you can keep on snapping, and the paper is pretty easy to find (and goes on sale often). Just keep in mind you'll need to have AA batteries on hand, and there isn't a way to keep digital copies of your snaps.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
By Tammy Rogers