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We attended the UK launch party for the new Fujifilm Instax SQ6 instant film camera. Ahead of our full review, here are our detailed first impressions of using Fujifilm's first instant analogue camera to use the square Instax film.
Fujifilm’s new Instax SQ6 is the company’s first instant analogue camera to use the square Instax film. Although the SQ10 also uses it, the SQ10 is basically a digital camera with an inbuilt printer, whereas the SQ6 is a completely analogue camera.
It features a fixed aperture, fixed focal length lens, with fully automatic operation. It takes 2x CR2 batteries, with an estimated battery life of 30 film packs (300 shots).
Ease of Use
As an instant camera, the SQ6 is reasonably large - it’s reasonably close in size to the SQ10, but it’s a little lighter. While you’re certainly not going to be able to squeeze this in your pocket, when switched off, you can happily fit it into a small bag or similar.
When you switch on the camera, the front lens elements extends from the body of the camera - a switch on the top of the camera can be used to switch it on and off.
Loading Instax film is very easy - all you need to do is open the rear door and line-up the yellow mark on the film pack with a reasonably obvious notch on the camera body. Once you’re ready, close the film door - you’ll need to fire off the shutter release to eject the film pack’s protective film first and you’re good to go.
Although the camera is pretty much fully automatic, there are a few different shooting modes which you can choose between. In order to do so, you can press the Mode button on the back of the camera - you’ll see a series of icons at the top of the camera which have an LED indicator to show you which mode you’re shooting in.
Here you’ll find A (automatic), selfie mode, macro mode, landscape mode, double exposure, darken and lighten. These are mostly self-explanatory - selfie and macro appear to be pretty much the same mode, while darken and lighten changes the exposure by around 2/3 of a stop either way.
A couple of other buttons of note are the timer button and the flash button. The timer gives you 10 seconds to compose yourself - a mirror on the front of the camera helps to ensure you (and your friends) are in shot. Meanwhile, the flash button simply turns the flash off - the flash is on by default, with Fuji recommending that it be left on in most cases, especially indoors. The flash itself is accompanied by a set of three coloured plastic “gels” which simply slot over the top of the flash - if using these, it’s recommended that you up the brightness setting a little.
To compose your image, you can use the small finder on the top right hand corner of the camera. This is useful when you’re photographing a subject at least a couple of metres away. A circle which is visible in the viewfinder helps you to get a good idea of what will be in the frame, but as is pretty much always the case with instant photography, it’s a little bit of trial and error figuring out what is likely to be in the shot and what isn’t - especially when you’re shooting close-up.
When you’re ready to take a shot, the shutter release button is on the front of the camera and requires a fairly firm press. The image will pop out of the slot at the top - it takes roughly 90 seconds for the image to start appearing, with it developing fully over the next few minutes.
So far we’ve had a brief opportunity to use the Instax SQ6 at the launch event, which took place in an underground venue (with harsh lighting). Despite this, the SQ6 produced some fun shots with vibrant colours and more than enough detail for the size of the Instax print.
Image quality from an Instax camera is never about perfection, but more the fun and quirky nature of analogue shooting coupled with instant film. You don’t get a chance to make sure your image is composed perfectly, or the exposure is spot on - but you might argue that’s part of the fun.
Although not the first instant camera to use the square Instax camera (the Lomography Lomo’Instant Square also uses it), the SQ6 arguably the easiest to use (and perhaps most stylish, depending on your point of view).
Instax has already proved very popular with consumers - Fujifilm says that 30 million units were sold last year - and we can see this one also being very popular. The square shape film gives you more space to work with than Instax Mini, and while it’s still expensive to run, feels a little bit more like value for money.
We’re looking forward to giving it a proper test as soon as possible, stay tuned!