When it comes to the best cameras for photography that you can buy, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 is never going to make the shortlist. Released in 2021, it's a clunky point-and-shoot with a knockabout charm – the sort of instant camera that's great for a party piece or a wedding reception, but one that you'd never use to take photos on a professional shoot.
I'd consider myself (others may disagree) a fairly advanced photographer and during my time as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine I tried and tested every brand of camera out there. Yes, I get excited about new tech, and I'm not one of those people that automatically loves a camera because it looks "retro".
When I got given the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 as a present one year, I was skeptical. Surely the gift-giver didn't know me at all? Wasn't I above such a simple camera? And then I started to take the (very chunky) camera out with me. I thought I might as well use up the film that had come bundled with it – then once I'd shot a few vintage scenes I'd probably leave it to look retro on a shelf and gather dust.
What I didn't expect was how much I'd love the easy shooting process. I'd been using professional DSLRs for so long, heading out with the Instax Mini 40 was a breath of fresh air. Without hundreds of mode dials, complicated menu screens or different lenses to choose from, I could simply walk about town and have, well, fun!
Arguably most of the best instant cameras offer users such simplicity, and as Jon Stapley agrees in our review of the Instax Mini 40, "The Instax Mini 40 just looks cool. Shooting is easy, carefree, and fun."
So why do I love the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40? Because it reminded me why I fell in love with photography in the first place. It allows me to wander aimlessly around a city, I don't worry about leaving it on the table at parties, or whether it's protected when I throw it in a tote bag.
The lack of features is absolutely appealing. Just like some people who get a dumbphone when they want to zone out from the world, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 doesn't try to be more clever than it is, or the biggest, best, lightest camera. It offers lo-fi charm – and prints that take 90 seconds of delayed gratification.
Do I love the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40? Yes. Would I use it as my main camera? Absolutely not. But there are different cameras for different days, and we all need to loosen up our snobby attitudes to camera tech once in a while. Just don't get me started on the cost of the film...