…but I have some issues
As short-lived as my affair with the Instax SQI is than I'd like to admit, I've got a pretty good idea what I feel about it. My deep affection for the Instax Mini 11 is very public—almost embarrassing—that I had such high hopes for this new release. From the get-go, I want to say that as good as the performance is for its price range, it's not exactly my favorite from the brand's roster of high-performing instant cameras, and for very good reasons.
The toy-like, analog camera is more lightweight than I expected, easy to lug around (post-quarantine), although it's a bit bulky. The lens retracts into itself; you just twist the lens to turn it on, and twist it another time to activate the Selfie Mode—with the small mirror on the front to help frame your shot. It's also available in three gender-neutral colorways: terracotta orange, chalk white and glacier blue.
For the price of P6,999, it's not exactly budget-friendly as compared to previous models, but it won't drain your savings either. It's a sight to behold, even a trinket worthy to become a collector's item, and will definitely come in handy when we can safely go out of the house, hopefully soon. You can even use it to express your creativity indoors; I find that the more limited resources I have, the more I get to challenge myself creatively.
The 1:1 square format is one I've never tried before, so the Instax SQI was such a treat to test out. There's no need to decide whether you want to shoot in landscape or portrait mode; any Instagram-obsessed photographer will love it. With Automatic Exposure as one of its main assets, it's incredibly user-friendly, even for beginners. You don't have to waste time deciding which lighting works best both for indoor and outdoor photography—especially for those spur-of-the-moment shots. This function automatically senses the level of ambient light when the shutter button is pressed, and it optimizes the shutter speed and flash output according to lighting conditions.
Generally, I am pretty impressed with the quality of the shots I produced using the unit. I've experienced a dry spell creatively, and having an instant film camera to help me (literally) see my surrounding from a different perspective is such a good thing. The colors are so vivid and the elements crisp—well, for most of the shots. It really gives off that nostalgic and gritty feel we turn to film cameras for.
Photos using the Instax SQ1
Unfortunately, I can't in good conscience, recommend a camera without listing cons. I've produced a number of wasted films because some elements of the photos are cropped, even with the viewfinder to help guide me, and/or the photo appears blurry, which is a source of frustration. Believe me, it wasn't a one-time occurrence. I thought it was because I didn't have my eyeglasses on, and I tried it again and again, and it produced the same photo quality.
A significant drawback: many photos were cropped and appeared blurry
If you did plan on getting an instant camera from Instax's collection, I would highly recommend the Instax Mini 11 over the Instax SQI because there are more chances of not wasting film, which by the way, isn't at all cheap. And it's more budget-friendly—a great holiday gift idea perhaps for a family member, a partner or even a close friend.
Instax Mini 11 vs Instax SQ1
If you did reach the end of this honest review, thank you, and I wish you a lifetime of unwasted film.
The Instax SQI is avaiable in all Fujifilm authorized dealers nationwide and online at Wonder Photo Shop and the official Instax Philippines flagship store on Lazada and Shopee. Follow Instax Philippines on Facebook and Instagram at @TeamInstaxPH to be updated on latest news.
Art Alexandra Lara