Instant Cameras Are Perfect for Your Holiday Photos

And kids totally love them

Key Takeaways

  • The Instax Mini Evo camera is Fujifilm’s new flagship instant camera.
  • Printed photos are fundamentally different from smartphone photos.
  • The Mini Evo can print photos from your phone via Bluetooth.
Fujifilm’s new Instax Mini Evo camera

Fujifilm

Don't let this year's holiday photos get lost in the never-seen depths of your phone's camera roll. Instead, print them and give them away. 

Real, printed-on-photo-paper photographs used to be the standard way to see photos, but now they're a rarity. Show someone a great photo on your phone, and they start swiping through your other pictures. But give them a print, and they'll love it. Fujifilm's new Instax Mini Evo is a neat hybrid digital camera and printer, with the benefits of both—a bunch of neat color and 'lens' effects, plus a real photographic print at the end. And it's not just for hipsters. 

"Having a print of a photo is this instant key to nostalgia that simply storing them digitally just can't [provide]," movie maker and photographer Daniel Hess told Lifewire via email. "Something about holding a print in your hands is both rewarding and valuable in a way that nothing else can really match."

Prints Not Screens

Whereas many popular 'retro' technologies trade on nostalgia, or the perceived superiority of non-digital media, the photographic print is completely different from a smartphone photo. Vinyl and cassettes, or even old-school iPods, are great, lovely to use, and much more intimate than MP3s or Spotify. But in the end, the result is music coming out of speakers or headphones. 

With an Instax or Polaroid camera, the end result is quite different. It's an individual object, not just another picture in a sea of similarity. If you give the print away, the recipient will remember the act of giving and the scene depicted in the photo. And if you've never tried giving an instant print to a kid so they can see themselves on something other than a screen, try it. It's quite something.

Fujifilm’s new Instax Mini Evo printing out a photo

Fujifilm

Even the cost of the prints factors into their special status. Instant pictures come out at around a buck a shot, depending on size and brand, whereas phone pictures are essentially free after you buy the device. That scarcity makes the photo special and also makes the photographer a little more careful about when they press the button. 

"It would be easy to say that digital storage is the superior medium because of how endless the storage capacity can be, but nothing matches up to that feeling of having a print to have and/or share forever," says Hess. 

Instax Mini Evo

The Instax Mini Evo is a digital camera with a printer inside. It uses Instax Mini Film, which measures 86 x 54mm (3.4 x 2.1 inches). The result is a real photo, not an inkjet print on paper, but because of the digital section in-between, you get several advantages over a regular instant camera like a Polaroid. 

For a start, you can preview your images before you print them, cutting down on wasted paper. You can also take advantage of digital tools, like the built-in lens and film filters, and the camera also doubles as a Bluetooth wireless printer for your phone, so you can turn any picture into a print. You can also save printed images to your phone. 

Specs-wise, the Mini Evo is pedestrian. The sensor is a mere 5 megapixels (2560 x 1920), and the ISO tops out at 1600, but the shutter speeds run up to 1/8000 sec, and it can focus as close as 10cm. In short, it's what you would expect of a little point and shoot, only a bit better.

It also has a rather nice vintage-camera look, which may appeal to the hipsters, after all.

"The same demographic that is reclaiming vinyl will welcome a chance to have a more organic you-can-touch-it experience, which this camera gives," photographer and photography teacher Martin Sheerin told Lifewire via email. 

Alternatives

The biggest (or smallest) downside to the Mini Evo is that it uses Fujifilm’s smallest film, Instax Mini. As mentioned already, these are 86 x 54mm, but the image within the borders is just 62 mm × 46 mm (2.4 x 1.8 inches), which is tiny. 

If you want an instant camera, then you could opt for Fujifilm’s square or wide formats, which are both quite a bit bigger. Or you could go for a Polaroid and kick it totally old-school with a camera that records directly onto instant film, with no digital in-between stage. 

Another great alternative is Fujifilm’s Instax printers, which leave out the camera part entirely and connect either to your phone or to one of Fujifilm’s regular digital cameras. 

But whatever you do, consider getting set up for photo prints this holiday season because you, and all your friends and family, will love them.

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