Fujifilm has announced the newest addition to the Instax Mini line of instant cameras, the Mini 40. Much like the Instax Mini 11, which was released last March, the Mini 40 is an entry-level instant film camera with only two settings and two buttons. But what sets this camera apart is its vintage film camera look, complete with a plastic faux leather body and metallic-looking plastic rails. It’s a $100 toy camera that instantly creates printed memories — and of course, it’s a blast to play with.
Beyond the vintage camera look, the Mini 40 has the same mechanics as the $70 Mini 11. Pushing the large silver button under the lens compartment will pop the lens out and turn the camera on. Selfie mode is activated by pulling the outermost part of the lens out about half an inch more. And when you’re ready to pack it away, push the lens back into the camera to turn it off. The camera’s all-plastic housing makes it very light and easy to take anywhere.
There are two shooting modes on the Instax Mini 40: normal and selfie. Selfie mode adjusts the focal distance of the camera to allow subjects closer to the lens to be in focus. Beyond that, you have very little control. The flash will fire with every shutter press, and an Instax Mini film sheet will roll out to a mechanic hum. The results are unpredictable beyond knowing the printed photo will be slightly soft with a high contrast and be bound within the icon Polaroid frame. The magic comes when you place the print on a table, forget about it, and are reminded of a great memory no less than a minute and a half later.
When using any Instax camera, I can’t help but notice the amount of plastic used in each one of the 10-photo film cartridges. Although there is a recycling logo on the cartridge, it is in Japanese, and I am unable to tell what number plastic it is made from. In the US, many municipalities have specific plastic numbers they can and cannot recycle, and without this number clearly labeled on these photo cartridges, I was unable to know if I would be able to recycle them here in Brooklyn, New York. I reached out to Fujifilm for more information and will update this article if I get it.
Play both informs my creative style and relieves me of stress — which, as a person who is tasked with reviewing cameras, is hard to always satisfy when using a camera. But the Mini 40, much like the Mini 11, has so few options, a very lightweight feel, and, at times, such unpredictable results that I can sit back and just have fun when using it. Any further thought about photographic theory while using the Mini 40 is excessive and rarely yielded me better results.
At $100, the Mini 40 is a tad more expensive than the almost-identical Mini 11. Besides its new vintage look, there would be little reason to spend the extra $30. But if looking the film photographer part is important, the Mini 40’s design will stand out. Once Fujifilm addresses the amount of plastic used in every one of the 10-shot film packs, I will really be able to have a carefree experience with this camera.
Photography by Becca Farsace / The Verge