Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: which is Fujifilm's best square instant camera?

Fujifilm Instax SQ1 next to the Instax SQ40 instant film cameras
(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Fujifilm's Instax cameras have been winning legions of fans over with their retro and fun instant film prints. Instax cameras and film come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest Instax Mini film to the panoramic Instax Wide film. 

Sitting in the middle is Instax Square film, which you guessed it, is square. Fujifilm currently has the Instax SQ1 in its lineup as the only still-in-production camera shooting on square film, but now Fujifilm is launching a new camera – the Instax SQ40, with a new retro look to match those retro film vibes.

For anyone not familiar with the Instax lineup but looking to jump in and start taking fun square prints, let's go through some of the key ways in which the new Instax SQ40 differs from the Instax SQ1.

Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: Prints

Both the Instax SQ1 and Instax SQ40 use the Instax Square print format. This sits in the middle of the range of Instax film sizes between Mini and Wide films. The Instax Square prints measure 86×72mm / 3.4x2.8in including the border frame, of which 62×62mm / 2.4x2.4in of that space is the actual photographic area. 

This compares to 46×62mm / 2.1×3.4 in (54×86mm / 1.8×2.4in including the frame) for Instax Mini film and 99×62mm / 4.25×3.4in for Instax Wide film (108×86mm / 3.9×2.4in including the frame).

Instax Square film comes in cartridges with 10 prints each, and are available as single packs, but often are cheaper when bought in multi-packs. Instax Square film comes in color and monochrome film, and there are also a number of film borders to choose from including the classic white, black, marble, colored, and much more.

A selection of Instax Square prints taken with the Instax SQ40 (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: Design

Both cameras share the same features, but offer very different designs. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The first difference you are going to notice off the bat is the design aesthetic of these cameras are very different from one another. The Instax SQ1 comes in three colors, a bright Terracotta Orange, a more pastel Glacier Blue and finally a nice neutral Chalk White. The design of the SQ1 is meant to invoke fun, it's big, it's colorful, you’re going to want to pull it out at a party.

In comparison, the SQ40 is a completely different option, its retro styling harks back to vintage film cameras from the last century with its plastic imitation leather surface and comes in one color only, and that is black (with some small silver trims). It is a much more demure look for the instant film fan who doesn’t want their camera to draw everybody's attention or anyone who just appreciates a classier-looking device. 

Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: Features

The lens sticks out quite far from both bodies when in shooting mode. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The Instax SQ1 and Instax SQ40 offer fundamentally the same features. Both cameras share the same lens and film, so produce the same quality prints. Both cameras also offer automatic exposure, which automatically works out the best exposure for your shot based on the ambient lighting in the room and the distance to the subject, the cameras will then use their in-built flash to take a bright and evenly lit shot. This makes getting great photos from either camera effortless, and in fact, there are no manual controls on either camera to make things more complicated even if you wanted to.

Both cameras also offer a Selfie Mode, which allows you to get slightly closer up shots and gets its name from being the perfect distance to get selfies while at an arm's length. Both cameras enter selfie mode with an additional twist of the lens, which pops it out slightly more. You can also use this mode to focus more closely on other objects or pets (although watch that flash!).

Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: Handling

Both cameras have the same lens that protrudes equally from both bodies. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The SQ1 has a much more substantial grip than the SQ40, this grip also has a textured finish to it making it easier to hold. Apart from that, both cameras have the same sized and placed viewfinder in the top left of the camera, and the same flash in the top right-hand side. Also, both the Instax SQ1 and SQ40 have two lugs, one on either side of the camera for attaching the included wrist strap depending on your individual preference for carrying the camera. 

Instax SQ1 vs SQ40: Size & Weight

The rear of the cameras are very similar, offering familiar handling between models. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Both cameras are pretty much the same size, although the newer SQ40 is a little bit larger all around, especially in its width compared to the SQ1. In reality, this difference is not really noticeable, unless you put them both directly on top of one another. The grip on the front of the SQ1 also is a bit more prominent than the SQ40, but it is still not as deep as the lens, so the protrusion doesn't stop it fitting in bags.

Officially, the SQ1 measures 130.7×118.6×57.5mm and weighs 350g without the strap, batteries or film. The SQ40 measures 134.2×120.2×60.5mm and weighs a bit more at 453g, although the extra 100g isn't that detectable when holding them both at the same time.

SQ1 vs SQ40: Price

The Instax SQ40 is just a little wider than the SQ1, which is only really noticable side-by-side. (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

The Instax SQ1 currently costs $119.95 / £119.99 / AU$220, although is an older model and has been seen a few times at a discount from retailers, so is worth keeping an eye out for savings. 

The Instax SQ40 is a bit pricier at $149.95 / £134.99 / AU$229, since both cameras have the same features, you are mostly paying for the design with the SQ40. As a new camera, it is also unlikely that it will see any discounts anytime soon.

SQ1 vs SQ40: Verdict

Both these cameras are fundamentally the same camera, which means that you are going to get simple controls and high-quality fun instant Instax Square prints from both. The main deciding factor is most likely the design and if you like the bold colors and playful exterior of the Instax SQ1 or prefer the classic retro design of the Instax SQ40. 

The Instax SQ40 however does come at a small premium in price over the older Instax SQ1, and when you factor in buying film packs for the camera, pushes the price to the upper limits of what many might consider reasonable for an instant camera.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.