Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 Review

September 28, 2020 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The new Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 bridges the gap between the Instax Mini 11 and the hybrid Instax SQ20.

It brings together the simpler, analogue nature of the Mini 11 with the Square film format of the SQ20, in a refreshed, more modern looking, simpler-to-use design.

It also effectively replaces the 2-year-old Instax Square SQ6, although you can still buy that older model at the time of writing.

Fujifilm has included a couple of features in the Instax SQ1 that will increase your hit ratio of usable pictures; auto exposure and a built-in 'selfie' lens setting.

No longer is it down to the user to select the exposure mode. No longer are separate attachments required to adjust the close focus distance for selfies. It's all down to the camera. Phew.

Because while instant photography has never been about technical perfection, be it accurate composition, sharp focus or exposure in your shots, it is particularly disappointing to see an unusable picture emerge on a sheet of paper that set you back the best part of £$1.

The Instax Square SQ1 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).

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 is available for £119.99 / $119.95 and comes in three different colours: Chalk White, Terracotta Orange and Glacier Blue.

As it name suggests, the SQ1 uses the Instax Square format, which is larger than Instax Mini and measures 86 x 72mm, with a 62 x 62mm image size.

It comes in a cartridge containing 10 sheets. A single pack of 10 sheets typically costs £8.99, but you can usually buy multi-packs for a lower cost per unit.

For instance, a two pack is usually £16.99 each and a five pack of 10 sheets will set you back anything from £34.99.

There's also a black frame Instax film available as well as the standard white option.

You get a colour-matched wrist-strap supplied with the Fujifilm Instax SQ1 and 2x CR2 batteries.

Ease of Use

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Front of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

As an instant camera, the Instax Square SQ1 is reasonably large. 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.

The Instax SQ1 is also much smaller than the only other fully analogue camera currently on the market using the Instax Square format film - the Lomo'Instant Square.

It's about the same size and weight as the previous SQ6 model, but it now features a built-in hand-grip with a vertically ribbed finish that is a big improvement on the flat, smooth surface of its predecessor.

The same ribbed grip continues around the rear of the camera (which holds the 2x CR2 batteries).

We still found ourselves needing to concentrate a little to avoid dropping the Instax Square SQ1 and certainly appreciated the wrist strap as a back up.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Rear of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

The camera is of course made from plastic, so ideally you won't drop it, but it is robust enough if you do.

Being a budget-level instant film camera, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 is a doddle to setup and comes with a concise instruction manual to follow for a smooth experience.

To get going, you'll need to load the camera with the two supplied CR2 batteries and, of course, the instant film.

Before popping open the large Instax embossed rear door, you'll need to check the two small windows.

If the window by the rear door's catch is yellow, then there is film already loaded. If it's black, it's empty.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Front of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

The other window displays how many sheets remain in the pack of ten cartridge and when S is displayed it is safe to load a cartridge.

With the Instax SQ1's rear door open, the yellow mark on the cartridge lines up with one inside the camera. Slot in the cartridge and close the door. Simple.

Before you get started, you'll need to take a shot to eject the safety sheet from the cartridge.

Try to remember not to open the back of the film door with film inside it - if you do, then any remaining film will be exposed to light and ruined.

There's no longer a switch on the top of the camera that can be used to turn it on and off.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Rear of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

Instead the Instax Square SQ1 is powered on by rotating the lens barrel from Off to On.

When you switch on the SQ1, the front lens elements extends from the body of the camera.

Another turn of the lens barrel from On to Selfie puts the lens into 'Selfie' mode, which changes the focus distance to 0.3m-0.5m. Otherwise, the focus range is from 0.3m to infinity.

The Selfie position is also the recommended one for taking close-up macro shots, although make sure you don't get any closer to your subject than 30cm, otherwise it will be out of focus.

It's much quicker to go from the off position to the on position than the Lomo'Instant Square, with everything fully automated with no need to manually extend any part of the camera before you get going.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Battery Compartment

When you're ready to take a shot, the shutter release button is built-into the grip on the front of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 and only requires a fairly gentle press, so much so that we inadvertently took a couple of shots completely by expensive mistake!

The print 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.

The lens has a 65mm focal length, which in this format translates to around 35mm - that's a moderate wide angle.

With a subject around a metre away, you'll get a good amount of surroundings in the shot. For a selfie from around 0.4m, you can comfortably fit in two people, but if anyone else jumps in it's a real squeeze.

Shots can be composed using the basic optical viewfinder, although you won't want to rely on its accuracy down to the T, especially for close up subjects. Also, you really have to press your eye in close in order to see through the finder in the first place.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Front of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

For accurate framing, the 'O' seen in the middle through the viewfinder should be positioned on the centre of your subject.

As is pretty much always the case with instant photography, though, 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-ups.

On the lens itself is a tiny mirror that can be used as a guide for selfies, which proves to be a surprisingly helpful aid. Also guidance regarding image composition can be found in the instruction manual.

When taking shots, you'll need to be aware of where your hands are holding the camera because you will not want to obstruct the built-in flash.

It's worth noting that the automatic flash fires every time a photo is taken. If we had a choice, the flash would be on by default but with an option of deactivating it for the picture you are about to take.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Front of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

The auto exposure (AE) light and Flash Light sensors are both found on the lens, opposite the mirror, a clever position which makes it practically impossible for them to be inadvertently blocked.

The different shooting modes which you could choose on the Instax Square SQ6 - macro mode, landscape mode, double exposure, darken and lighten - have completely disappeared from this new model - it really is a very simple point and shoot experience.

There's also no longer a timer button, which was useful for timed selfies, or a flash on/off button, as the flash is now always on.

You can attach the supplied wrist-strap to the Instax Square SQ1 by hooking it onto the two strap holders on the side of the camera.

Image Quality

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 uses the Instax Square Instant Film format. Square print sizes measure 62x62mm (or 86x72mm including the border) and take about 90 seconds to develop once the paper is ejected after a picture is taken.

If we had to choose between the Instax Mini print size that's more commonly used or the Instax Square size (62x62mm), we'd always go for the latter.

In the hand, mounted to a wall, stuck in an album, the larger square format gives subjects that extra room to breathe.

Exposure control is fully automatic and measured through the AE Light and Flash Light sensors onthe front of the camera - so don't cover them up when you are shooting or else the shot won't come out properly!

We really appreciated not having to fiddle between the exposure modes like in some instant camera - auto exposure means one less thing to think about. There really shouldn't be much at all to think about with an Instant camera.

The auto exposure control method in the Instax Square SQ1 is through a fixed f/12.6 aperture lens and a variable shutter speed range.

In the Instax Square SQ1, there is a variable shutter speed range of 1.6 sec to 1/450 sec, with a slow synchro for low light and a built-in flash that has an effective 0.3m to 2.2m range.

The paper itself has a sensitivity of ISO 800, which at a basic level is a multi-purpose paper. The sweet spot for this paper and shutter speed range combination is outdoor overcast conditions or in the shade.

In bright light, the minimum 1/450 sec, fixed f/12.6 aperture and ISO 800 combination is still too fast for exposures not to blow out in the highlights. For example, sunlit bright white clouds lack detail. Extending the fast end of the shutter speed range to 1/800 sec would for the best part solve this problem.

One other factor regarding blown out bright highlights is 'metering'. If there is a range of shadows and highlights in a scene, the AE light sensor seems to favour the shadows. In general, you'll want to capture scenes that feature a similar brightness level all throughout.

On the opposite end of the spectrum in low contrast light, the 1.6 sec maximum shutter speed with slow synchro flash is a big improvement on most instant cameras.

With slow synchro in the Instax SQ1, more detail is revealed in those darker areas outside of the flash range.

Prints from the Instax Square SQ1 are reasonably pleasing, with a decent amount of warmth and depth and with a good impression of detail at this small size.

Images from the SQ1 are best in good light, but the automatic onboard flash does its best to illuminate darker shots. These work fairly well for portraits and party shots if the subject is fairly close.

An always-on flash can be limiting. If you have more than one subject at various distances within the 0.3 to 2.7m flash range, the closest one will likely be too bright. That would be true of any flash, but here you don't have a choice to turn the flash off.

The Instax Square SQ1's minimum focus distance is 0.3m, which makes taking selfies easier.

While images are never going to be critically sharp, at least pictures using the selfie mode are more likely to be in focus. Just make sure you stretch your arms as far as they can go!

Technically, the selfie mode works well for close up shots because it narrows the focus range to 0.3m to 0.5m, ensuring that that main subject is sharp rather than the background.


Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print
Instax Square SQ1 Print

Product Images

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1


The Instax Square SQ1 is the most stylish and straight-forward square-format instant camera on the market.

Whilst it lacks some of the advanced features of the previous SQ6 model, the new SQ1 delivers a truly point-and-shoot experience that practically anyone can use, regardless of their photographic experience.

We also really like the revamped styling for 2020, with a refreshingly modern design that blends both style and substance.

The new handgrip on the front makes it much easier to get a firm grasp on the SQ1, the rotatable lens barrel to switch from Off-On-Selfie is a clever bit of product design, and the new position of the auto exposure (AE) light and Flash Light sensors on the lens itself makes it nigh on impossible to accidentally block them.

There are a few things that are less well thought-out. The shutter button is quite sensitive, and its new position integrated into the hand-grip meant that we took a few, costly photos completely by mistake.

The SQ1 has also sacrificed the useful shooting modes and self-timer that the SQ6 model offered, whilst the inability to over-ride the built-in flash, which is set to On for every single shot, will undoubtedly annoy power users.

We also wish that Fujifilm had found a way to switch from difficult-to-find CR2 batteries to much more ubiquitous AAs, and also added a tripod socket.

Overall, though, if you want a square-format Instant film camera that delivers good-looking prints most of the time with the minimum of fuss, then the new Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 certainly fits the bill.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

The Instax Mini 11 is Fujifilm's new entry-point into the exciting world of instant film photography. Now featuring auto exposure and a built-in 'selfie' lens setting, is this the best instant camera for beginners? Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review to find out...

Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay

The new Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay pairs a digital camera with an Instax mini printer to enable you to take photos and make instant prints. It also offers the ability to record sound clips for the first time on an Instax. Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay review, complete with downloadable sample images, to find out if this is the best ever Instax device...

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 is a hybrid instant camera that takes digital pictures and makes instant prints. Does it offer the best of both the digital and analog worlds? Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 review to find out...

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

The Instax Square SQ6 is Fujifilm's first ever camera to use the square Instax film format. Is it better than its main rival, the Lomo’Instant Square? Find out now by reading our Instax Square SQ6 review...

Leica Sofort

The brand new Leica Sofort is the German manufacturer's first ever instant film camera. Entering a market dominated by Fujifilm, the Sofort (German for "instant") can take both colour and black & white pictures, and features a small mirror for easier selfies. Read the World's first Leica Sofort review now to find out what it offers...

Lomo'Instant Square

The new Lomo'Instant Square is a fully automatic instant camera that's the first ever analog model to use the square Instax film format. You can also use Instax Mini film by changing the camera back, increasing its versatility. Is this the best instant camera on the market? Find out by reading our Lomo'Instant Square review now...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 from around the web.

dpreview.com »

The Fujifilm Instax SQ1 is a stylish and easy-to-operate instant camera that makes use of the brand's Instax Square format film. This new camera is a lot like shooting with a bulkier version of the Instax Mini 9/10/11, since it lacks many of the advanced features found on earlier Instax square cameras like the SQ6 or the SQ10. But it still manages to produce appealing Instax images, even if the shooter only has a very basic understanding of photography.
Read the full review »

uk.pcmag.com »

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 ($119.95) is as simple—and fun—to use as any other Instax camera. It's a pure point-and-shoot, easy enough to pass off to a friend for a snapshot, and its wide-angle lens makes for solid selfies. If you're looking for a square format instant camera, and are more of a snapshooter than artiste, the SQ1 is an instant camera with loads of appeal, and our Editors' Choice.
Read the full review »

techradar.com »

The Fujifilm Instax SQ1 is a new middle ground in its instant camera range. The best place to start with Instax has traditionally been the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 (or Instax Mini 9 predecessor), its simplest and most affordable model. The downside? Those cameras limit you to Instax Mini film – and while their rectangular photos are fun, the more expensive Fujifilm Instax SQ6 and its Instax Square film offer the more authentic retro experience.
Read the full review »


Film FUJIFILM instax SQUARE instant film
Photo Picture Size 62 mm x 62 mm
Lens 2 components, 2 elements, f = 65.75 mm, 1:12.6
Viewfinder Reverse Galilean finder, 0.4×, with target spot
Shooting Range 0.3 m and beyond (use selfie mode for 0.3 m to 0.5 m)
Shutter Programmed electronic shutter
1.6 to 1/400 sec.
Slow synchro for low light
Exposure Control Automatic, Lv 5.0 to 15.5 (ISO 800)
Film Ejection Automatic
Film Developing Time Approx. 90 seconds (varies depending on the ambient temperature)
Flash Constant firing flash (automatic light adjustment), recycle time: 7.5 seconds or less (when using new batteries), effective flash range: 0.3 to 2.2 m
Power Supply Two lithium batteries (CR2), capacity: approx. 30 instax SQUARE film packs (under FUJIFILM test conditions)
Auto Power Off Time After 5 minutes
Other Includes film counter and film pack confirmation window
Dimensions 130.7 mm x 118.6 mm x 57.5 mm
Weight 390 g (without batteries, strap, and film)

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