I’ve set myself a challenge to complete 101 Things in 1001 Days, from 1 January 2012 to 28 September 2014. #78 on my list is to take 101 photos with my Fujifilm instax mini 25 camera.
I’ve had this fun little camera for a while now, and we seem to go through phases with each other. There are months on end where it sits neglected in a drawer, and there are days where I go through 3 packs of film before lunch. It’s a great little toy when I remember it’s there.
I decided to call this task “done” when I had taken 101 photos that were good enough to share. Some of them turned out as expected, others are happy accidents probably look like mistakes to the average person! I’m sure I could have presented an entirely different set of 101 photos if I kept this open until the end of my 1001 Days but it’s time for me to start concentrating on the other items on my list.
Enjoy the little video above, and try not to notice the terrible nailpolish! We all do things we regret on New Years Eve.
Image from photojojo.com, which is one of my favourite places for photo gadgets.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 takes instant photographs, much like a polaroid camera. The photos are about the size of a credit card and there are enthusiasts out there who use them in journals and other crafty projects. Lots of people are making albums that are sized for these photos and there are stacks of accessories on etsy and ebay. I think people who love this camera really love this camera.
This camera isn’t for everybody, although most people would enjoy the novelty factor of instant film.
Through trial and error I’ve learned a bit about which lighting situations will work for this camera, and which ones won’t. One of the main frustrations that people have with the instax mini is that there’s no way to manually control the flash or shutter speed, so there’s an element of risk each time you take a shot. Most indoor shots will cause the flash to fire and that can cause annoying glare on reflective surfaces. If you’re photographing people indoors the flash does a great job and gives a fun 80’s feel.
The photos I liked best were taken in full sunlight, or in places with HEAPS of bright ambient light.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR USING THE FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 25
The page where I have been posting my instax photos has been attracting a lot of google traffic throughout the year, and I’ve noticed that most of the search terms are related to problems that people have with using the camera. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I’ve learned, especially since the manual that comes with the camera is pretty useless!
I’m not an expert (I’m not even happy with all 101 shots) but I did get better at it over time.
- You should expect to waste a few packets of film when you first get your camera. Film isn’t cheap, but in my experience the only way to learn is to keep shooting. Photograph the same object multiple times, adjusting your distance or light source, until you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
- I always buy my film through eBay now because it can be much cheaper than the usual places. I usually get a good deal when I buy them in packs of a couple of hundred. Whether you’re buying film online or in a store always check the expiry date. Sometimes the price is too good to be true, and a seller who doesn’t disclose this information in their product description is probably shady. My last few purchases have been made through cameragirl and they’ve been great.
- Once you have your film don’t let it sit around collecting dust, and remember that it expires. If you’re too precious with your camera or your film you’ll never learn to use it to its full potential. Be ready to pay about $1 per photo, and don’t be too mad about the ones that end up in the trash.
- Taking a photo in full, bright sunlight will give vivid colours and a low-risk shot.
- Some of my favourite photos were taken directly into to the sun, like the bird feeder and tomato plant above. The brightest spots in the photo will be overexposed and you may end up with a black or green dot in your image. That’s the film telling you that your scene was too bright, but I love it.
- If you’d prefer to avoid this shoot your subject in direct sunlight but put the light source behind you. The brightest spots may still be over exposed but you shouldn’t experience any burn. The two photos of my dog above were shot this way, and while the detail of his white fur is lost to overexposure overall there’s more control in those shots.
- The other four photos above (mug & lemons, baseball game, ivy & vases) were shot in areas with heaps and heaps of ambient light. The instax needs a LOT of light, so it’s pretty quick to fire its flash if the scene isn’t perfectly lit.
- The flash is brilliant for photographing people at night and in low light.
- Don’t forget that what you see through the viewfinder is just a guide. As the viewfinder doesn’t sit directly over the lens there will be some differences in the framing of the final product. It’s not easy to line up a perfectly symmetrical shot with this camera, so embrace imperfection!
- The camera comes with a closeup lens, but it’s not a macro lens. You’ll still need be a good arms length away from your subject to get it in focus, and I wasted a lot of film figuring out that sweet spot! I also kept forgetting to remove it for landscape scenes which is why some of them are blurry. I found I’m more tolerant of these sorts of mistakes with my instax than I ever could be with my SLR or DSLR.
- Don’t buy this camera if you’re a control freak, or you will be miserable. Embrace imperfection and you will love it.
If you have one of these cameras I would love to hear your tips in the comments!