Gear Review - Fuji Instax
Nothing more LoFi and Joyful than this system.
I am not sure where to begin, Polaroid?! Lomo?! the iPhone, Hipstamatic, Instagram… FILM IS DEAD is what they kept saying and most of us believing. Back in the day. You know?! When we were young.
Repeat like a Mantra!
Somehow everything in the oldschool film photography realm dies and is reincarnated somehow… Polaroid to the Impossible project, filmscanners to iPhone to Polaroid scanners and the list seems to be endless. Yes everyone cries "HIPSTER!" when someone in a plaid shirt with a Lomo or Polaroid or old Hassy walks by, but that is a good thing, no?! That an App like Instagram that started out as a boring and inferior copy of another App (cough Hipstamatic cough) could become this successful is a good indicator that pixel-peeping is not the number one factor in the selection of peoples "camera" choice. And yes yes… Instagram provides something else too and all that bla bla… but that is besides the point.
Polaroid stopped production of its instant product line in 2008 and it was still some time for the impossible project, not only to start, but to get to a point where people other than lab technicians could use their films.
I am not saying, that Polaroid cameras where in everybody's hand and the watercooler topic day in and day out by the way and they still aren't, but you often start missing something just when it's gone.
But! The importance of the different, the beautiful, the individual photo is not to underestimate. Especially with the click of a button and not hours in front of the computer or in the darkroom. Ease of use for the creative processes is a fantastic thing. Yes of course it is going to be overdone, overused and there will be fatigue, but it also will bring out some fantastic and beautiful work and push the ones that where doing it before to evolve, grow and come up with other great ideas and work.
People tend to forget that there has always been shitty works of "art"… as cliche and esoteric it might sound, but "ying and yang maaaaaaaaan!". The more amazing work we see, the amount of shitty work will grow, too. And it is part of the process, we all need to get the shitty work out of us to make space for greatness. Some will give up along the way and that is ok too.
The point I am trying to get to and I wouldn't have thought of it, if someone hadn't asked me "WHY?!" in astonishment of my use of the Instax cameras is that we like the different. We always look for different ways to express ourselves and to create and if the use of our mobile phones is the number one way we take photos nowadays and we love to use weird apps to manipulate what we capture, why not wander back to an older way of capturing altogether too?! Yes, its not wet plate photography, but that is the point. It is easy. It is easy to capture, it is easy to digitise.
Mad props to Fuji for not only rocking the digital photography market at the moment, but sticking to a product that many have doomed over and over again and even "improving" and working on it. They are constantly bringing new Instax models out and luckily keeping the two film formats they have had from the beginnings when still cooperating with Polaroid in the 90s.
When would I use a system like this?! Well… for me personally there are so many use-cases. From using it for BTS work on photoshoots, to doing full on projects or using it while travelling. I love to have one of my Instax cameras with me as often as possible. And not to forget to make some oldschool "Polaroids" of your models for example. When we were in Paris last year for LeWeb we took it everywhere and snapped photos of random of people in a bar, handed them the photo and put a smile on some strangers faces.
Fuji Germany was kind enough to give me one camera of each format and a generous amount of film for a bunch of my projects. LeWeb, #mbrt13 and everything in between. By now I have spent a lot of time with both cameras and there is absolutely nothing I would complain about. Ease of use. As mentioned before is a key point.
A few settings besides ON and OFF. Lighter, Darker, Flash and focusing distance. And most of the time the focusing distance is the only thing you will have to set. There are different versions of each camera for the two formats and you should be aware of that when buying, but I am sure they will bring you a lot of fun and a fresh wind to your photography. And with the quite low prices you can buy them these days there is no reason not to, besides having absolutly no interest of course.