Classic Polaroid vs. Fujifilm Instax Mini


Before beginning I would like to clarify that I will be referring to the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 as 'Instax', and to the classic Polaroid 600 Sun camera as 'Polaroid'. This is probably an important distinction - the Instax is NOT, as much as people may wish it to be, a Polaroid camera in make or nature, it is an instant camera. As you will find in the post, the cameras and films of both the Instax and Polaroid are entirely different. Also, all Instax cameras and films are made by Fujifilm, whereas all Polaroid cameras were either made by Polaroid years ago or are refurbished by The Impossible Project; all Polaroid film production was ceased by Polaroid, and now is only made by The Impossible Project. Incidentally, The Impossible Project have a few stores dotted around Europe - I stumbled across their adorable shop in East Berlin - but as far as I know, Fujiflm do not.

Anyway, despite the flourishing popularity of the Instax cameras, I find that people are more shocked to learn I have a Polaroid, rather than the Instax. I suppose that The Impossible Project are still growing as a company, so most people assume that the Instax is the only form of instant film, but fear not because Polaroid is not dead! Considering that they are both roughly the same price to buy and maintain, I thought I would write this review-type-thing to inform people of the pros and cons of each. Had I not have followed the crowd and bought the Instax Mini, I would have probably bought the Instax Wide camera instead, and I think if I was reviewing the Instax Wide against the classic Polaroid, the Wide may win.

POLAROID 600 SUN CAMERA



CAMERA INFORMATION
Price: ranges from really cheap (from eBay), to £80-odd from the Impossible Project
Buy: HERE

The pros and cons of this camera may not be applicable to other models of Polaroid 600 cameras.

PROS OF THE CAMERA
  • You can take a photo with OR without the flash.
  • When you shut the top, the casing becomes a shell to protect the lens and flash.
  • There are 3 exposure settings; you move the slider to the left for a darker result, middle for the standard setting, and right for a lighter result.
  • The camera is powered by the film - it does not need any kind of batteries in order to operate.
  • It is very easy to insert or remove the film from the camera.
  • The actual camera looks cool. This may seem like a pointless pro but after all, the Polaroid is as retro as you can get for instant photography.

CONS OF THE CAMERA
  • The casing of the camera is fragile. I accidentally dropped my Polaroid camera which disappointingly left it with a crack at the bottom.
  • The 600 Sun camera is not made for selfies, as I found it with my first ever use of it. Unfortunately, if you are too close to whatever/whoever you are shooting the picture will be excessively blurry.
  • Polaroid cameras are no longer manufactured. My camera was a refurbished one from The Impossible Project, so it was not in perfect condition; nothing major is was wrong with it, just aesthetics issues. 
  • The strap is rigid, uncomfortable, and cannot be removed unless it is cut off.
  • The camera is an awkward shape so you may not find it simple to just stick it in a bag and go.
  • Polaroid's original films had 10 pictures per pack, whereas The Impossible Project's film only comes with 8, meaning you have to subtract 2 from the film count on the back to know how many you have left (i.e. if the camera says you have 2 pictures left, you don't).
  • You have to hold the shutter button for a while before the picture actually takes, which sometimes results in a missed shot.

FILM INFORMATION
Price: ranges from £16-17
Buy: HERE or HERE; it can be found in some local shops too.
Pictures per film pack: 8

PROS OF THE FILM
  • The quality of the film is impeccable. By this I mean the actual frame and image is sturdy and not likely to fall apart.
  • The frame also extends to the back, so if you did not want to write on the front of the image you could write the date etc. on the back.
  • The films are made of an emulsion formula that makes every picture uniquely developed - pictures may be developed with a slight discolouration or small gaps in them. The last film I used had coloured frames, and the colouring had leaked into the emulsion! See a scanned version of the image HERE.
  • There are different styles of films available (e.g. black and white image, metallic frames etc).
  • You can do interesting projects with the developed film, such as EMULSION LIFTS. When I went to the Impossible Berlin shop they stocked cards with project ideas on them, which is how I came across the emulsion lifting. See my example of an emulsion lift HERE (used with the aforementioned first selfie).

CONS OF THE FILM
  • The pictures can take 15 minutes+ to develop; the film I buy takes 30 minutes to develop.
  • The films are sensitive to light, especially when they are developing. You have to develop them in the dark, otherwise they may not develop at all. Additionally, over time, the images may fade or manipulate if they are overexposed to sunlight.
  • Some emulsion formulas are not yet perfected by The Impossible Project; in late 2013 the black and white film was discontinued because the images were found to deteriorate over a short period of time (a new formula exists now). The images I took on that film have ended up like THIS, which was one of the kinder transformations.
  • On a rare occasion, you may find that your image has not developed or is blank. 
  • NO, YOU CANNOT SHAKE IT LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE! You will move the emulsion around and ruin the image!
The main gist of these cons is that the film unpredictable.


FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 8



CAMERA INFORMATION
Price: ranges from £60-£80 (though you could find it for cheaper on eBay)
Buy: HERE or HERE

The pros and cons of this camera may not be applicable to other models of Fujifilm Instax cameras.

PROS OF THE CAMERA
  • There are 5 exposure settings, such as 'sunny', 'indoors', 'sunny and cloudy' etc, and the camera recommends which one to use with a light indicator. 
  • The picture quality of the Instax film is actually really impressive for an instant camera. If you prefer focused, sharp, and vibrant image quality then I would recommend the Instax.
  • Pictures are taken instantaneously - there is no need to excessively hold the shutter button as you may do with a Polaroid.
  • It is very easy to insert or remove the film from the camera.
  • The body of the camera is strong, and is not likely to crack if you drop it.
  • When the lens is shut, the camera is quite compact as far as instant cameras go. 

CONS OF THE CAMERA
  • It is a flash only camera, which unfortunately isn't ideal in some public places.
  • The camera operates using AA batteries, opposed to being powered by the film pack.
  • The viewfinder is not a direct representation of what is seen through the lens, which means that the developed picture won't necessarily be framed as anticipated. It's something you have to get used to - I usually frame the shot slightly to the right because then the lens will be in the right place for the picture. This also means that selfies are a hassle to frame perfectly. 
  • When the shutter closes for the lens, the lens will be protected, however, the viewfinder and the flash aren't protected. The camera is not supplied with a case to prevent damage.

FILM INFORMATION
Price: £9-£17
Buy: HERE or HERE
Pictures per film pack: 10 BUT the first buy link shows a pack of 20 (what I used to buy)

PROS OF THE FILM
  • Pictures will develop within a minute!
  • More importantly, the Instax films aren't sensitive to light, which means you can watch them develop (it's so cool) instead of frantically trying to find a dark place to stash them.
  • There is a ridiculous variety of frames available to buy. I've seen some really whacky films, such as THESE (click on 'Deco Films'), so it is easy to have fun with Instax film!
  • The films are the exact size of a credit card, so you can easily slip pictures into your wallet or purse!
  • You CAN shake it like a Polaroid picture! (But remember: it isn't a Polaroid picture, which is probably why you can shake it!)
CONS OF THE FILM
  • The quality of the film is mediocre - the pictures are flimsier than Polaroid pictures, and have a bend at the bottom that really frustrates me.
  • You can not write on the back (unless you use a metallic pen) because the back of the frame is branded with the Instax logo. 
  • For those who want the Instax to be a Polaroid dupe, there are a few aesthetic issues: the frames aren't square shaped like Polaroid pictures, and they are sharper, and more focused than Polaroid pictures.
  • There is currently no back and white film available for the Instax Mini models.

FILM EXAMPLES FROM BOTH


Right: Instax Left: Polaroid
As you can see there is more room to write on at the bottom of the Polaroid film. This probably wasn't my finest example for the Instax film, but hopefully from this you can gather that Instax pictures are sharper than Polaroid ones.


These are the backs of both pictures. 

WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Ang

8 comments

  1. I've always been a fan of vintage cameras and the Instax sounds fab!

    Emma at www.collagemepretty.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same! They're fun to have :) do you think you'd ever get one?

      Delete
  2. Vintage Polaroid gotta love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's my overall winner too - can't be the original! x

      Delete
  3. #Fujifilm_Instax_Mini 8 Instant Film Camera Pink. See more details here...
    http://bit.ly/1QPRPBr

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello! I like the comparison, instax now has a black and white film, called a monochrome one.

    I am not sure when the company released the other instax version that has a film the same size as the polaroid.

    Thank you for this comparison of the two! It really helped.

    ReplyDelete