It’s fair to say Fujifilm is largely responsible for having reinvigorated the instant print camera market these past few years, even more so than the resurgent Polaroid brand, or other manufacturers joining the party this century including Lomography and Canon.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 ‘Neo Classic’ edition we’re looking at here most closely resembles a pared-back and simplified version of the same manufacturer’s retro-styled Instax Mini Evo model; except that the latter has the distinct advantage of both analogue and digital capture from the same device; whereas this one doesn’t.
On the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 the ‘experience’ is strictly old school analogue – and we’re here for that. The thrill of seeing a print emerge from the camera and slowly ‘develop’ before our eyes is a tactile, attention-grabbing experience that still appeals to just about everyone, from ages 8 to 80.
Being part of Fuji’s Mini series, this camera takes the widely available Fuji Instax Mini film packs, each offering 10 shots, or prints, of roughly credit card size. Though, because the actual image part is set within a white border, the picture itself is smaller still at just 62x46mm. As a result, close up portraits and still life work better than landscapes, as the detail of any subject further away than a few feet from the camera is difficult to make out at this size. We were sent the ‘classic’ black liveried model from the series – so how does it fare?
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic specifications
Sensitivity range: Up to ISO800
Lens: 60mm, f/12.7
Battery life: Up to 100 shots (10 film packs)
Weight: 294g (excluding battery, strap and film pack)
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic key features
Despite the retro camera styling and black and silver finish lending an air of classic sophistication to what is a plastic construction, there’s nothing particularly trick-sy about this snapshot instant print camera.
For our money we get a focus range stretching from 0.3 metres to infinity and 60mm lens. Yet it does have a few surprises under its bonnet for those who want to do more than point and click. These extra features include double exposure and long exposure options, as found on competing cameras from Lomography, with the basics of snapshot photography accessed via a row of buttons adjacent to the status display window on the backplate. These again are fairly basic but include a dedicated macro mode, party mode, kids mode and landscape mode, plus, usefully, a self-timer too.
Also expected and likewise present and correct here is a built-in flash top right of the faceplate, as viewed from the front. This juts out a little bit proud of the body but it’s still worth paying attention to, in order that a stray finger doesn’t partly obscure it when gripping the camera in both hands. Fortunately there is the ability to disable the flash on this camera if we start to get results that look a little overexposed – which we did on occasion.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic alternatives
While Polaroid is still going strong, other players have entered the instant print market in Canon and Lomography – although it feels like Canon is dipping a toe in, rather than jumping in full bodies with its own Zoemini S2. The latter is a 188g in weight, slender-bodied pocket sized instant-camera-and-printer-in-one, which produces credit card sized prints and stickers.
These work in tandem with a smartphone friendly Canon Mini Print app, available for smartphone. There’s no such smartphone compatible features with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic however; look to Fuji’s own Instax Mini Evo if you want a blend of digital and analogue from this brand.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic build & handling
On the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic the power on/off button is slightly awkwardly placed for our liking, in that it’s encircling a second shutter release button top right of the lens on the camera’s faceplate. We get a further shutter release button located where we’d more conventionally expect to find one – namely top right of the camera’s top plate, where it falls more readily beneath the pad of our forefinger.
Other than this slight ergonomic awkwardness, the device maintains the range’s family friendly appeal; insert the rechargeable battery provided, with, unusually, a standalone mains charger included out of the box, and away we go… pointing and shooting to our heart’s content.
In terms of other less obvious features, we’re provided with a tripod socket here but it’s on the side flank of the camera rather than the base as one might traditionally expect. The suggestion seems to be that the obvious reason for someone to put this camera on a tripod is to take a selfie, with the camera turned on its side in portrait fashion rather than positioned in landscape mode.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic performance
Like with the same brand’s Instax Mini Evo camera, credit card sized prints are at the heart of what the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic camera delivers, although due to the frame around the edges and bottom strip the central image portion – or picture window – is even smaller than that.
Like a lot of simple point and shoot cameras, left to its auto everything devices, and particularly pointed at an image with a darker background, this one will tend to fire its flash and overexpose the foreground subject, delivering a washed out look in which highlights are bleached and colours don’t really pop as well as they might. If you’re looking for sharply detailed images look elsewhere – we preferred the output from both the Fuji Instax Mini Evo and larger Fuji Instax Wide 300, although ostensibly they’re using the same film chemistry – but if it’s low-fidelity charm you’re after, then results here will prove satisfactory.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic verdict
If you’re looking to get started in instant print photography then the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic edition is a good beginner’s tool, with its ‘proper camera’ retro styling undoubtedly appealing more to adults and older teenagers than little kids than the pastel colors of alternative models and brands.
Inevitably results are as hit and miss as we’d expect from an instant print camera, but as the accent here is as much on fun as image fidelity there won’t be too many furrowed brows when the family gathers around to view the results.