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In this review, SPY E-Commerce Editor Tyler Schoeber puts the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 instant camera to the test. Keep reading for our full review and see how it compares to other instant cameras we’ve tested.
I have a bit of a confession to make. I’m more or less a photo nerd. (Editor’s note: also known as a photographer.) I was a photography major all throughout college and I had a pretty old-school upbringing with the medium. I’m all about analog, from those old cameras that only shoot 35mm film to those even older large-format cameras that sit on top of stilts. You know, the ones where you have to put a black sheet over your head in order to take a photo. I’m talkin’ ooooooold-school.
I’m also really specific about what brands I use. I always stick to my guns and it’s really hard to get me out of my comfort zone. So, when shooting with the best instant cameras for the past couple of years, I’ve singlehandedly been using Polaroid. It’s what I grew up on and it has that kind of name that’s so assimilated with the product, you almost assume that’s the actual name of the product. Think ChapStick vs lip balm and Band-Aid vs bandages.
So, once Fujifilm started gaining popularity in the realm of instant cameras, I was incredibly anti. All of my friends were buying them and expressed so much love, but to me, they felt like a sell-out. The smaller print, the goofy teeny-bopper colors, the tragically basic Instagram posts all over my feed. It all made me sick as a photographer.
Until I finally got my hands on one.
And after testing the latest instant cameras from Fujifilm, Polaroid and Kodak, I can say definitively that the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the best instant camera for sale in 2021. This $74 instant camera costs way less than the more expensive Polaroid Now+, but when it comes to photo quality, it’s clearly the superior choice.
In the case of the Fujifilm Instax 11, there’s no other way to put it. I completely judged a book by its cover. I allowed my gross disdain for popularized, deemed “basic” products to get me into a chokehold before I could actually make a valuable opinion. And, now that I’ve tested this instant camera out, I have to be real: this is the best instant camera that money can buy.
The sheer amount of quality that this camera provides print after print is astronomical. Clarity is simply superb. There’s no other way to describe it. Details that I’ve never seen captured on a Polaroid are visible, the color is almost on the nose (which is a shock for most instant cameras) and they don’t jip you on contrast.
Review: I Put the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 To the Test
As much as I love Polaroid, I’d say some of the biggest flaws I’ve seen in prints are both contrast and lightness-related issues. Most photos come out relatively dull, so you can’t exactly make out specifics. In addition, I’ve noticed a lot of photos will come out extremely dark even when using flash in close proximity. This isn’t the case whatsoever with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11. Quality is strong and photos are bright and bouncy. And this is even in comparison to other Fujifilm cameras!
As mentioned in the beginning, I don’t necessarily love the size of Fujifilm’s prints, but quality and development time make up for it. In comparison to Polaroid’s give or take 11-minute development, Fujifilm’s prints are complete in just two. It’s beyond impressive.
Here’s another thing I realized I love a lot in 2021 that I never thought I would: batteries. It seems that in our growing world, we’ve completely ditched disposable batteries for rechargeables. While this is better for the environment and a relatively easy commitment, it’s more than always time-consuming. The Fujifilm Instax 11 takes disposable batteries so you can easily switch them in and out. This is great if you have the camera on the road or need to quickly swap out batteries to get your next shot.
And, I know I low-key made fun of the candy-colored cameras earlier, but who am I to judge a little bit of fun? The colors make shooting a bit more visually pleasing from the outside, therefore, I retract. Colors are cute! And when the images look as great as they do below, I really can’t complain.
The Bottom Line: This Is the Best Instant Camera of the Year, Full Stop
Lately, I’ve been testing a lot of instant cameras for SPY, but after comparing the photos from Kodak, Polaroid and Fujifilm, the Instax Mini 11 was the clear winner. I think that Fujifilm has stolen my heart with this camera and I have no problem expressing so. You can fall in love too and snag this camera for yourself for just $74, or you can spring for a package that comes with a ton of much-need accessories including a carrying case, film, filters and more all for just $140. Can you say deal?
As a skeptic turned fan, trust me. This is the instant camera to have. There’s no ifs, ands or buts.