Cameras

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review: Simple instant photo fun


The Instax Mini 11 is the latest camera to join Fujifilm’s incredibly successful Instax Mini line. Replacing the Instax Mini 9, the Mini 11 is now Fuji’s most affordable Instax and the de facto entry-level option for anyone looking to get into instant photography.

While Polaroid tends to receive most of the glory, Instax instant film has been around for over 20 years. At this point, the credit card-sized Instax Mini film is the most widely available and affordable instant film around, making the budget-friendly Mini 11 an ideal pairing.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: What do you get for the money?

For £70 you get the Instax Mini 11 camera, a wrist strap, a pair of customisable rubber shutter buttons and two AA batteries. Pick up a pack of Instax Mini film and you’ve got everything you need to start creating retro-style instant prints.

The camera itself is a chunky rectangle with rounded edges constructed from a matte-finished plastic. On the front there’s a button that pops out the lens and powers up the camera. If you manually extend the lens further you can engage “selfie mode” which reduces the minimum focus distance down to an arm’s length 0.3m. A small mirror is situated next to the lens to aid in selfie framing.

The top left corner houses the optical viewfinder, the flash and the shutter button with optional interchangeable rubber buttons. There are strap mounting points on each side, along with the AA battery compartment, while a slot on the top ejects the exposed instant prints.

On the rear, there’s the backside of the viewfinder, a small counter displaying the number of shots remaining and the film-loading compartment.

The Instax Mini 11 is available in a range of six colours: Sky Blue, Capri Blue, Lilac Purple, Ice White, Charcoal Grey and the Blush Pink reviewed here.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: What’s new?

The Instax Mini 11 takes over from Instax Mini 9 as Fujifilm’s entry-level instant camera. While things may look business as usual from a distance, there are in fact quite a few changes worth noting.

The chunky design we’ve come to expect from entry-level Instax cameras is still here, but it’s been slimmed down ever so slightly leaving it feeling a little more refined. At 293g it’s a hair lighter than its predecessor’s 307g too.

The Mini 11’s most practical upgrade is the inclusion of a built-in selfie mode. Pulling on the lens barrel clicks it into a close-focus setting, reducing the minimum focusing distance from 0.6m down to just 0.3m – perfect for arm’s length selfie shooting. The previous Mini 9 required you to attach an accessory lens for selfies which wasn’t anywhere near as practical.

While the Mini 9 featured four user-selectable aperture settings ranging from bright daylight to indoors, along with a fixed 1/60 shutter speed, the Mini 11 is entirely automatic. The camera retains a fixed f/12.7 aperture and varies its shutter speed between 1/2 and 1/250 second depending on the amount of available light. This means there are no settings to fiddle with, just point and shoot. Like the Mini 9, the 11’s flash fires no matter what.

One purely cosmetic final touch is the inclusion of interchangeable shutter buttons. By default, the Mini 11 features a little dimple on the shutter release, but a pair of included sticky-backed rubber buttons can be stuck on top.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: What do we like?

The Instax Mini 11’s user experience is so incredibly simple that it’s difficult to fault, particularly for beginners. Load the film, frame your scene, take the shot. This level of simplicity makes it ideal for passing around your friends at parties, snapping spontaneous selfies and even entrusting to kids.

The Mini 11’s variable 1/2 to 1/250 shutter speed also makes it more versatile than previous entry-level Instax cameras, especially in low light. While every Instax features a flash for shooting in dimly lit environments, that 1/2 minimum shutter speed means you’ll actually be able to make out some of the background in your night shots rather than just having subjects floating in the darkness.

Design-wise I certainly prefer the slightly slimmed down body of the Mini 11. It feels more modern and refined than its predecessor but still manages to retain a fun aesthetic. The smaller grip may be a little cramped for larger hands, but it’s easily offset by the ample thumb rest on the back.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: How could it be better?

The Mini 11 is an unapologetically basic camera. While this makes it ideal for fuss-free shooting, it’s not going to be a great fit for photographers looking for more creative control. It lacks any sort of exposure compensation and even does without a self-timer. For those looking for more advanced features, you’d be better off considering the Instax Mini 70 or Mini 90 Neo Classic.

The shots it produces are also far from high fidelity, often rather soft, slightly under or overexposed and perhaps not quite straight as a result of the off-centre viewfinder. But, to be fair to the Instax, that’s the case for just about every instant camera on the market and part of instant photography’s charm.

A genuine criticism I do have, however, is the flash’s lack of finesse. There’s no way to control or disable it, so it’s going to fire no matter what, and I found it didn’t always produce the results I was after. On some close-up shots, I found the flash a little overpowering, while on shots taken further back it occasionally wasn’t bright enough. There’s certainly a sweet spot and you’ll find certain conditions where the camera and flash pair near perfectly, but given that everything’s automatic, a little bit of luck is required.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11: Should I buy it?

If you’re a stickler for perfect exposure and critical focus, then this isn’t the camera for you. But, if you’re after character, simplicity and most of all fun, then the Instax Mini 11 is unbeatable for the money.

Its ease of use means that pretty much anyone can get up and running within seconds, making it a great option for social situations and kids. The Instax prints it produces are fantastic for capturing memories, sticking in albums, displaying, or sharing with friends.

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