Instax

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Instax
Instax logo
Owner Fujifilm
Introduced 1998
Markets Worldwide

Instax is a brand of instant still cameras and films marketed by Fujifilm since the late 1990s. There are two formats of Instax film and cameras − the original "wide" format which gives an image approximately 60 mm x 99 mm, and a "mini"[1] format of 62 mm x 46 mm.

Format Characteristics[edit]

The films and cameras are based upon the improvements Kodak made to Polaroid's SX-70 instant film system in the instant film cameras it sold in the 1970s and 1980s, namely the ability to expose the film through the rear of the photograph, and the reversal of the order of the dye layers so that development in the blue layer is visible first. As a result of these changes the image does not need to be taken via a reflex mirror in order to reverse the image (as all Polaroid integral film cameras do); and colour balance and tonal range are improved over Polaroid integral instant films. As well Fuji's decision to integrate the pressure plate springs and electrical power sources into the camera bodies rather than the disposable film pack itself helps make the Instax system more economical per exposure than Polaroid's equivalents.

Although Kodak itself ceased production of instant film cameras when it was successfully sued by Polaroid for patent violation, the Instax cameras were made and marketed with Polaroid's permission and as a result could not be officially distributed in certain territories such as the USA, until the original Polaroid patents expired in the mid 1990s. With Polaroid ceasing production of instant films in 2008, the Instax system was the only integral instant film system in production until The Impossible Project launched their own integral film in early 2010. The Instax Mini system is also sold in some markets by Polaroid itself [2] through the Polaroid 300 and Polaroid 300 Film (in reality an Instax Mini 7S and Instax Mini film).

Instax Mini[edit]

Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 camera

Instax Mini is an ISO 800 credit-card-size (86x54 mm) integral daylight color film designed for use with Fujifilm instax mini compatible cameras. The Mini film and camera systems are also called Cheki (チェキ) in Japan, the Cheki moniker derives from the english "check it".[3]

Film Specifications[edit]

Taken from the film specifications on the Fujifilm website [4]

Film Speed ISO 800/30°
Color Temperature Daylight type (5500K)
Resolving power 12 lines/mm
Photos per Pack 10
Film Size 86 x 54 mm
3.4" x 2.1"
Image Size 62 x 46 mm
2.4" x 1.8"
Film Pack Size 92 x 61 x 20 mm
Film Pack Composition Polystyrene pack and light-
shielding cover sheet

Instax Mini Cameras[edit]

Discontinued Current
Model Release Lens Shutter Exposure Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(body)
Notes
Instax Mini 10 [5] November 1998 60 mm ƒ/12.3 1/30 to 1/400 automatic 2xCR123A 119 x 113 x 58 mm 335 g (11.8 oz)
Polaroid Mio [6] December 2001 60 mm ƒ/12 automatic 2xCR2 117 x 127 x 56 mm 343 g (12.1 oz)
Instax Mini 30 [7] May 2002 automatic 122 x 106 x 52 mm 325 g (11.5 oz)
Instax Mini 20 [8] December 2002 automatic 115.5 x 121.5 x 52 mm 310 g (10.9 oz) Similar to Polaroid Mio
Instax Mini 55 [9] March 2003 60 mm ƒ/12.7 manual (4 settings) 112.0 x 96.5 x 49.5 mm 275 g (9.7 oz)
Instax Mini 50 [10] September 2003 manual (4 settings)
Instax Mini 7 [11] June 2004 1/60 to 1/400 manual (4 settings) 4xLR6/AA 119.5 x 121.5 x 70.5 mm 320 g (11.3 oz)
Instax Mini 7S [12] June 2008
Instax Mini 25 [13] June 2009 1/30 to 1/400 automatic 2xCR2 112.0 × 121.0 × 50.5 mm 275 g (9.7 oz)
Polaroid 300 [14] April 2010 1/60 to 1/400 manual (4 settings) 4xLR6/AA 119.5 x 121.5 x 70.5 mm 320 g (11.3 oz) Rebranded Instax 7S
Instax Mini 50S [15] September 2010 1/30 to 1/400 manual (4 settings) 2xCR2 112.0 x 96.5 x 49.5 mm 275 g (9.7 oz) [16]
Instax Mini 8 [17] November 2012 1/60 to 1/400 manual (5 settings) 2xLR6/AA 116 × × 118.3 x 68.2 mm 307 g (10.8 oz) [18][19]
Instax Mini 90 [20] September 2013 1.8 to 1/400 manual 1xNP45A 113.4 x 91.9 x 57.2 mm 296 g (10.4 oz) [21][22]
Model Release Lens Shutter Exposure Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(body)
Notes
FinePix PR21 [23] 1999 35 mm ƒ/8 1/4 to 1/1000 automatic 3xAA 113 x 127 x 60 mm 550 g (19.4 oz) 2.3 Megapixel
Model Release Lens Shutter Exposure Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(body)
Notes
Diana Instant Camera Back April 2009 N/A N/A N/A 2xCR2 N/A  ??? g For use with Diana F+
Diana F+ w/ Instant Camera Back April 2009 32 mm ƒ/11 ∞ to 1/60 manual 2xCR2 N/A  ??? g
Lomo'Instant December 2014 27 mm ƒ/8 ∞ to 1/125 manual 4xLR03/AAA 141 x 96.3 x 57 mm  ??? g All new camera

Instax Mini Printers[edit]

Model Release Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(unit)
Notes
Instax "Cheki" NP-1 [24] 2005 2xCR2 120.5 x 45 x 108 mm 250 g (8.8 oz) Only released in Japan
Instax Share SP-1 [25] January 2014 101.6 x 42 x 122.5 mm 253 g (8.9 oz) Successor to the Pivi

Digital Instax Pivi[edit]

The Digital Instax Pivi line was intended as a digital/analog hybrid. The original intention was to produce a new format to feed a series of digital instant cameras similar in approach to the Olympus C-211, a digital camera with a built-in Polaroid 500 film printer. Fujifilm delivered on that premise but did so in the form of the FinePix PR21, a digital camera with a built-in Instax mini printer released in 1999.[26]

Instax Pivi film looks physically identical to Instax mini, but it takes a different formulated film producing an inverted image when used in a mini camera, making them deliberately incompatible to a fault.

The original project did not end with the launch of the FinePix PR21. A stand alone printer was planned from the start but was not the primary focus, but it turned into one with the advent of mobile devices, making it to market in 2004 after 5 or so years in limbo.

  • Digital Instax Pivi film (film size: 54 (W) x 86 (H) mm picture size: 46 (W) x 61(H) mm) - incompatible with Instax mini film -
Discontinued Current
Model Release Max Input Resolution Interface Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(unit)
Notes
Instax Pivi MP-100 [27] 2004 3 MP (2048x1536) IrDA 2xCR2 126.5 x 98 x 29.5 mm 205 g (7.2 oz) compatible with IR-100 [28]
(USB to IR adapter)
Instax Pivi MP-70 [29] November 2005 129 × 100 × 29 mm 210 g (7.4 oz)
Instax Pivi MP-300 [30] June 2006 41 MP (6400x6400)
or 1 MB over IrDA
USB
IrDA
146 × 102 × 29 mm 225 g (7.9 oz) optional AC adapter

Instax Wide[edit]

Instax Wide Pack
Fujifilm Instax 500AF camera

Upon introduction simply called Instax without any suffix (making it the normal, not mini, Instax film), Fujifilm gradually embedded the "Wide" moniker into the name of the product. That rebranding pattern can also be seen on the Instax 210 who now appears on Fujifilm site as Instax WIDE 210 despite not being referenced elsewhere like that.[31]

Film Specifications[edit]

Taken from the film specifications on the Fujifilm website [32]

Film Speed ISO 800/30°
Color Temperature Daylight type (5500K)
Resolving power 10 lines/mm
Photos per Pack 10
Film Size 86 x 108 mm
3.4" x 4.3"
Image Size 62 x 99 mm
2.4" x 3.9"
Film Pack Size 92 x 115 x 20 mm
Film Pack Composition Polystyrene pack and light-
shielding cover sheet

Instax Wide Cameras[edit]

Discontinued Current
Model Release Lens Shutter Focusing Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(body)
Notes
Instax 100 [33] May 1999 95mm ƒ/14 1/64 to 1/200 Manual 4xLR6/AA 171.5 x 91.5 x 119.5 mm 650 g (22.9 oz)
Instax 500AF [34][35] July 1999 95 mm ƒ/12.8 1/8 to 1/125 Automatic (AF) 2xCR123A 174.5 x 76 x 120 mm 655 g (23.1 oz) Only Instax model with Autofocus
Instax 200 [36] November 2000 95mm ƒ/14 1/64 to 1/200 Manual 4xLR6/AA 178.5 x 94.5 x 117.5 mm 650 g (22.9 oz) Flash relocated to the side
Instax 210 [37] June 2009 610g (21.5 oz) Internally slimmed down
Instax Wide 300 [38] Spring 2015 167.8 x 94.7 x 120.9 mm 612 g (21.6 oz) Redesign+Hot Shoe
Model Release Lens Shutter Exposure Batteries Size
W×H×D (mm)
Weight
(body)
Notes
Belair Instant Back March 2014 N/A N/A N/A No N/A 599 g [39] (21.13 oz) For use with Belair X 6-12
Belair X 6-12+Instant Back March 2014 ƒ/8-16 1/125 sec. and bulb N/A 2xLR44 N/A 1400 g [40] (49.4 oz)

Reception and growing popularity[edit]

Fujifilm originally wanted to release the Instax series worldwide including North America and Europe simultaneously,[41] but decided to work with Polaroid on the mio camera based on the Instax mini 10/20 for the US market. The mio product was released in 2001 and was not the success both companies hoped for. It was quickly discontinued after a few years. The Instax Wide format was also available initially, but saw very limited distribution in the US. Instax was officially a dead product in the American consumer market, but flourished in the Japanese market. Japan, UK, Germany and some other northern europe countries were perceived as the last instant camera strong markets. The Instax brand did not return to the US market until 2008, upon Polaroid's demise.

The Instax brand/system was released in the face of a declining worldwide market and there are several reasons for that. Towards the end of the 1990's 35mm film cameras, film and developing had gotten the cheapest they had ever been in a very competitive global market while instant film pricing stayed mostly the same, more complex film/chemicals made it so that manufacturing costs were always higher per exposure, the logistics were also different, chemical film needed to be stored in ideal conditions (keeping them in a fridge and whatnot) and even then they would have a lower shelf life than non-refrigerated film and, in the case of older polaroid systems, cartridge also included batteries which had a cost. Which is probably one of the reasons Polaroid itself was eager to do the Polaroid Mio with Fujifilm, sadly they [Polaroid] were desperate at this point with novel (cheap) products like the i-Zone and the Joycam (both introduced in 1999) making their approach to the market unfocused at best.

From 2000 to 2008 sales of chemical film by all makers had dropped by at least 25% per year since 2000 so it was very much a declining market for everyone. It was considered the past and not the future, and by most definitions it was thought nobody would miss it. Those were dark ages for the format and it ultimately caused a downsizing and mass closing of facilities. The industry is still trying to recover today.

Polaroid's exit from the market in 2008 made things easier for Fujifilm by making them the sole instant film manufacturer. However, there was also a wind of change. In the beginning of the decade it was a luxury for the consumer to keep investing in analog systems (especially instant, as most mainstream cameras didn't even have glass lenses, they weren't perceived as quality cameras) and things didn't get better with the financial crisis around the world from 2001 onwards.

But by 2008, digital camera adoption had stabilised as most people already had several in their households (and specs became satisfying for years on end) and it was now an adapting market with the advent of cell phone cameras menacing to eat away at their sales. Further years only made that more evident and closed the distance, so while adapting was needed and downsizing was a must for instant film there was clearly still a market. There was also vintage revivalism, with cameras like the Lomo's, with low-quality lenses becoming popular all over again and being sold at higher prices. Instagram and other apps with vintage/noir filters being applied to the images becoming customary probably also helped.

In 2014 it was reported that the Instax Mini 8 was outselling flagship models like the Fuji X-T1 and Sony A7r. In fact, when it came to best sellers on US amazon it was only second to the Go Pro.[42] The impossible project also registered year on year growth since the launch of their film line in 2010 and for the first time in years camera releases are coming more often as well as becoming more premium. Instax mini 90 and Instax wide 300 clearly attempting to look more serious than their predecessors. The Impossible project released a printer, have a second version of it on the way (as well as a new photographic machine, eventually) and another player in the vintage camera phenomena, Lomo is about to release an all new instant camera that uses Instax Mini film, the Lomo'Instant. Fujifilm is reaping a lot of benefits now for all the difficult times they had to keep it going in the last decade.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kennedy, Ingrid (5 September 1999). "Is it worth it... The Fujimax Instax Mini". The Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Polaroid 300 on Polaroid website". 2010. 
  3. ^ "The meaning of "Cheki"". 2007. 
  4. ^ "Instax Mini film manual". May 1999. 
  5. ^ "Instax Mini 10 JP manual". November 1998. 
  6. ^ "Polaroid Mio manual". December 2001. 
  7. ^ "Instax Mini 30 JP manual". May 2002. 
  8. ^ "Instax Mini 20 JP manual". May 2002. 
  9. ^ "Instax Mini 55 JP manual". March 2003. 
  10. ^ "Instax Mini 50 JP manual". September 2003. 
  11. ^ "Instax Mini 7 JP manual". June 2004. 
  12. ^ "Instax Mini 7S EN manual". June 2008. 
  13. ^ "Instax Mini 25 EN manual". June 2009. 
  14. ^ "Polaroid 300 EN manual". April 2010. 
  15. ^ "Instax Mini 50S EN manual". September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Instax Mini 50S brochure". September 2010. 
  17. ^ "Instax Mini 8 manual". November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Instax Mini 8 US brochure". November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Instax Mini 8 EU brochure". November 2012. 
  20. ^ "Instax Mini 90 manual". September 2013. 
  21. ^ "Instax Mini 90 US brochure". September 2013. 
  22. ^ "Instax Mini 90 EU brochure". September 2013. 
  23. ^ "FinePix PR21 spec sheet". 1999. 
  24. ^ "Instax "Cheki" NP-1 JP manual". 2005. 
  25. ^ "Instax Share SP-1 EN manual". January 2014. 
  26. ^ "FinePix PR21 JP press release". 1999. 
  27. ^ "Instax Pivi MP-100 JP manual". 2004. 
  28. ^ "IR-100 JP product pagel". 2004. 
  29. ^ "Instax Pivi MP-70 JP manual". November 2005. 
  30. ^ "Instax Pivi MP-300 EN manual". June 2009. 
  31. ^ "Instax WIDE 210 product pagel". October 2014. 
  32. ^ "Instax Wide film manual". May 1999. 
  33. ^ "Instax Wide 100 JP manual". May 1999. 
  34. ^ "Instax Wide 500AF JP manual". July 1999. 
  35. ^ "Instax Wide 500AF EN manual". July 1999. 
  36. ^ "Instax Wide 200 JP manual". November 2000. 
  37. ^ "Instax Wide 210 EN manual". June 2009. 
  38. ^ "Instax Wide 300 brochure". September 2013. 
  39. ^ "Lomography Belair Instant Back Product Page". March 2014. 
  40. ^ "Lomography Belair Jetsetter Instant Camera Kit Product Page". March 2014. 
  41. ^ "Fuji may enter US instant film market". 31 October 1998. 
  42. ^ "Instax Rules Them All: massive sales of Fuji’s instax film. Instax Cameras sell better than Fuji X-T1 and Sony A7r!". 12 September 2014. 

External links[edit]