Tech Review: Fun photos in an instant as Fujifilm ups game
Fujifilm Instax SQ6, €139
There's something special about instant camera prints.
Obviously they don't have the resolution or 'dynamic range' of fancier camera phone photos that are printed off.
But they have something that many cameras lack: fun.
Taking a photo that prints on the spot is still tinged with a little more excitement than a phone photo (even if the phone shot will probably be seen by way more people on social media).
Fujifilm's new SQ6 model is probably the best of its kind out there at the moment. It doesn't have the screen preview features of the SQ10, but it still has quite a few controls and pre-photo editing or filter options.
The design is really nice (with more than a passing similarity to Instagram's logo) and it comes with a strap.
The square photos that come out of the top are 2.4 inches by 2.4 inches while replacement film costs €11 per pack of 10 sheets.
There are a couple of buttons on the back. The first lets you turn the flash on or off. (In general, it's better keeping it on indoors as photos turn out very noisy and a little orange, otherwise.)
There's also a timer button which, once pressed, gives you 10 seconds to get in place before the camera shoots. A 'mode' button lets you cycle through different photographic settings. These include 'macro' (close ups), 'landscape' (over two metres away), a multiple exposure mode and 'light' and 'dark' modes which sort of act like filters.
It's all good fun to experiment with, although you do feel that the learning curve is a little pricey as you're literally paying for each try.
There's a small mirror on the front of the device so that you can line up a selfie if you want.
So what are the quality of the shots like? Fairly modest. You can forget about much real detail in the photos. Exposure levels are also a bit of a challenge: in general, it defaults to overexposing the photo a little, with the flash often overdoing it. (You can turn the flash off in settings, but that didn't really improve the exposure issue.)
Then again, fine detail is hardly the point. These are 2.4 inch square photos - you really just want to see decent outlines, some colour and a bit of background context.
But there's more to a picture than technical excellence.
Maybe it's the border on the prints which frame the shots nicely. Or maybe it's the fact that it's just 'there', an actual manifestation of a photo rather than something that remains a potential photograph.
Whatever it is, the photos are sort of delightful.
Of the first 10 test shots - mostly of family and pets - I took, one instantly made its way into my wallet as a keepsake. Judging by past behaviour, it will still be in my wallet in a year's time. And probably five years' time.
The SQ6 comes in a choice of colours, including white, grey and gold.