Camera Review: Fuji Instax Mini 90

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Back in August we announced that Fuji had released an updated version of their popular Instax Mini line of cameras. The update not only added a few extra features to the camera, but gave the camera a much needed facelift. Following along with design cues from the X series line, the camera now looks more professional and less like a toy. You can purchase the camera now through Adorama. So, does the Mini 90 live up to the hype? Lets see…

Specifications

Film: Fujifilm Instant Color Film “instax mini” (separately available)
Film Size: 3.4 x 2.1″ (86 x 54mm)
Picture size: 2.4 x 1.8″ (62 x 46mm)
Lens: Move in / out type lens, 2 components, 2 elements, f=60mm, F=12.7
Viewfinder: Real image finder, 0.37x, with target spot and parallax adjustment for macro mode
Focusing: Motor-driven 3-range switching, 0.3m – infinity (macro mode: 0.3m – 0.6m, normal mode: 0.6m – 3.0m, landscape mode: 3.0m – infinity)
Shutter Release: Programmed electronic shutter release, 1.8 – 1/400 sec. shutter speeds (macro mode: aperture automatically fixed at F22, bulb mode: maximum 10-second shutter open time)
Exposure Control: Automatic, LV5.0 – 15.5 (ISO800), lighten-darken control ±2/3EV, +1EV
Film Feeding Out: Automatic
Flash: Automatic electronic flash (with brightness adjustment function), forced firing mode (with brightness adjustment function), flash off mode, red eye reduction mode
Liquid Crystal Display: (LCD Exposure counter (number of remaining shots), Macro mode, Brightness control, Self timer, Flash ON / OFF, Mode button(Party / Kids / Landscape / Double exposure / Bulb)
Power Supply: NP-45A lithium-ion battery.charge capacity: 10 film packs (based on our test conditions)
Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.6 x 2.3″ (113.4 x 91.9 x 57.2mm)
Weight: 0.7 lbs (296g) excluding the battery, strap and film

 

Features

High performance flash: The high performance flash emits the ideal amount of the light finely adjusted for the distance to the subject and ambient brightness. It helps to optimize the exposure.
Party mode: The party mode enables the background as well as the subject to be captured brightly.
Kids mode: This mode is helpful to capture fast moving subjects like children and animals.
Landscape mode: It is best to target a distant subject (3m to infinity)
Brightness control: You can add a low key or high key effect by controlling the brightness of photos.
Macro mode: The newly equipped macro mode lets you enjoy stunning close up photography.
Bulb exposure mode: In bulb exposure mode, the shutter remains open (up to 10 sec) while the shutter button is depressed, enabling photo capture that shows attractive night views and light streaks. You can take expressive photos, with more fun added to instax photography.
Double exposure mode: By selecting the double exposure mode and pressing the shutter button twice, you can superimpose two different images in one frame to create an artistic photo. Show your creativity with a unique photo.
MODE dial: The buttons on the back and the dial around the lens unit permit select modes and functions easily.
Battery: a rechargeable battery is used.
Tripod socket: The tripod socket mount enables the instax to be attached to a tripod giving it stability, especially important when using the double exposure or bulb mode.
Power switch & shutter button: The power switch and shutter button are placed close to each other, making it easy to switch on and take a picture quickly.

 *Specifications and features pulled from Fuji’s website

Form And Function

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I have always thought that Fuji has done a good job with the design of the Instax Mini line. (the same can’t be said for the Instax Wide) Even though the previous models looked more like toys than serious cameras, the layout, usability and function have always been spot on. The cameras are simple to operate. They have shutter releases  for both portrait and landscape shooting. The film produces beautiful colors and develop very quickly. Some of the cameras even had tiny mirrors built in, for the all important selfie. In the past, Macro Mode was possible with the addition of a lens filter.

Not only did Fuji keep most of the features that made the Instax cameras fun to use, they improved on them and added a few more. Besides the exterior overhaul, the biggest changes that are noticeable are the addition of  an LCD on the back of the camera, a mode dial and the change over to a rechargeable battery. Some smaller but useful additions are manual flash control, bulb mode, a tripod socket and lugs on two sides of the camera for a strap. The mirror that was built in to the Mini 25’s lens is gone, but the shutter release on the front of the camera is chrome and does a decent job. (if you can see yourself, you are in the shot)

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Looking at the back of the camera, first thing you notice is the display. This little addition has been great! Seeing how many shots you have left and what “mode” you are in at a glance is a life saver. You will also notice the small door under the display for the rechargeable battery. (good for 10 packs of film) What looks like buttons under the viewfinder is just a grip for your thumb.

All the selections that can be made are pretty self explanatory without reading the manual. My 9 year old had figured most of it out within a few minutes.

From left to right: Macro mode, Lighten and darken selection, Self timer (can also be used for double exposures), Flash control (on/off and red eye), Mode selection (press this button multiple times to go through various modes or press once and turn ring on lens to change modes)

Speaking of modes, the Instax now has options.

Default: Normal mode. Flash fires and shutter speed varies depending on brightness. Shutter fixed at 1/30 in dark situations.

Party: Flash fires at a slow shutter speed to bring in more ambient light.

Kids: For fast moving subjects.

Landscape: For shooting distant objects

Double Exposure: Two shots, one frame.

Bulb: Hold down the shutter button then release for exposure. Max 10 sec.

What You Get

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Along with the camera, you get a strap similar to that which ships with an X series camera, a charger and a battery. Pretty simple and to the point. The battery needs to be charged for several hours out of the box but thats it. Attach the strap and add some film and you are ready to shoot.

Pros

Pros and cons can be subjective so please take that into consideration here.

I love the redesign. I think the camera is beautiful and looks right at home next to an X100s.

The added features and modes are a welcome addition. One of my favorite new features is the ability to turn the flash off.

More control than previous models.

Some will like the addition of a rechargeable battery and some will not.

The tripod socket was a great bonus and the ability to do multiple exposures and timed shots is great.

The images, just like before, have beautiful color and develop quickly.

All in all I think Fuji is moving in the right direction with the Instax line. Room for improvement? Yes…

Cons

As much as Fuji has improved the camera, I feel there are some short comings.

The camera is plastic and still feels very much like a toy. I think this will disappoint some professionals.

This is not a manual camera. I think shutter speed selection or aperture selection should be next on the list. At the price point, this should have been included.

The price, coming in just shy of $200.00 is a big jump from the $70.00 Mini 7s. Yes, I know they added some features, but still.

Personally, I think the addition of the rechargeable battery is a con. I like the weight that the AA’s add to the Mini’s and I like knowing that if a battery died, I can get AA’s anywhere. With the rechargeable battery, I’m stuck if it dies because I forgot to recharge it. I could buy a spare, but thats an added cost to an already $200.00 camera.

The bulb mode maxing out at 10 seconds leaves me a little disappointed. I was hoping for the chance to try some really long exposures.

This being a Mini model, the images are the small business card size. I like them, but some may not. Maybe a redesign of the Wide will happen soon.

Wrap Up

This is a fun camera to use, just like previous models. Depending on what you plan to use the camera for should dictate whether you get the Mini 90 or a previous version. Personally, I have used my Mini’s for shooting candids at weddings and for fun around the house. My kid loves the Mini and the size of the prints. All of the new features are really cool and I think different people will find ways to make the most of them. I’m sold on the redesign and the flash control. Give me those two options and I would have still been sold. However, I was never embarrassed by the older cameras, so I would have been sold with just the new flash function.

Think about your needs and budget. If you just want a fun camera to use at parties, any Instax will work. You can pick up some models as cheap as $25 dollars on Craigslist. If you want good looks, some control (please note, this is far from a manual camera) and can get over the price jump, go for it. You will have fun either way.

I have included some shots to go along with the post. I did test every mode, but was not always happy with the results. (macro mode and double exposures) I plan to practice more with those.

Hope this helps any potential customers. If you have any questions, please comment and I will do my best to answer them.

Comments

  1. Catherine says:

    Hi! I have a mini too and I’ve always wanted to capture lights at background but with the mini, no.
    With this new instax, is it able to capture like Christmas trees or other lights? (Like capture the Disney castle at night)?
    Thanks! I’m still debating about getting it or not.

  2. Andrew Bartram says:

    Id go for a mini 10 and spend the additional £130 on film.

  3. Delia S. says:

    Hello. I was just wondering, but which one do you recommend more of? I just recently ordered an instax mini 25, and I’m now not sure if I should have got the 90. Does the 25 include a strap like the 90 does? Is the timer on the 90 a good feature to have, while the 25 does not have it?

    • If you have the money for the 90, i think it is the better option. I have seen some great shots using the bulb mode and the option to turn the flash off is a major plus. As far as the strap goes, I’m not sure what the 25 comes with, but I know my 7s only came with a wrist strap. The neck strap is a nice feature.

      • Delia S. says:

        Thank you. Also, are you aware if the picture quality on the 25 is just as good as it is on the 90?

        • I’m sure the picture quality on the 25 will be fine. Thats one thing Fuji has had going for them since the start. Great colors and sharp-ish images.

  4. Hi,

    Can you please tell me how to focus and focus lock on the instax mini 90?
    There is no half press… How do i focus and recompose? I’ve been experimenting and have been wasting film…

    Hope you can help.

    Thanks!

    Lyan

    • I have not had good luck with focus recompose on any of the Instax Mini cameras. I now just frame the image how I want it and shoot. My keeper rate is good.

      • Eduardo Vecchio says:

        There are three focus zones. 30cm to 60cm in Macro, 60cm to 3m in normal, and 3m to infinity in landscape. You don’t focus the camera, just got to select the correct mode.

  5. i just wanna ask, how long is the self timer? or the x2 self timer?

  6. Hi,

    I was thinking of getting this or the new wide 300. Im just disappointed that they dont have the feature like on mini neo 90. I like the idea of wide film on wide 300 but at the same time in love with the features on mini neo 90. any recommendation? this is my first time buying instax camera btw.

    • Personally, I love the mini format and the size and features of the mini 90. Until they put the same features in the wide, I’m all abut the mini.

  7. what is the use of the dial mode in front and how do i use it?

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