The Instax Mini Hello Kitty is perhaps the coolest special edition camera there is. And believe it or not, that's saying quite a lot!
Sure there are grown-up special editions like the bullet-proof Leica M10-P Reporter, or the Hasselblad 907X commemorating the moon landing. But there's also the Mandalorian Polaroid Now, Stranger Things Polaroid OneStep 2, Pokémon Canon Ivy Rec and Optimus Prime Canon EOS R5. Still, the Instax Mini Hello Kitty is the coolest of them all.
You see, all those cameras are simply the standard-issue versions of each model with a different paintjob, or different color of plastic, or a plaque or decal slapped on the side. The Instax Mini Hello Kitty, meanwhile, is a completely bespoke Instax Mini camera that's shaped like the Sanrio mascot's head!
Obviously there's more to a camera than just how it looks (as evidenced by the aforementioned Pokémon camera, which is the worst camera I've ever bought). So, is this Instax just a gimmick, or is it one of the best instant cameras you can buy?
Instax Mini Hello Kitty: Specs
Film type: Instax Mini instant film
Lens: 60mm f/12.7
Closest focusing: 0.6m (0.35m with close-up lens)
Shutter speed: 1/60
Film developing time: 90 secs
Print size: 54×86mm (2.1 in × 3.4 in)
Printed image size: 62 x 46mm (1.8 in × 2.4 in)
Prints per film pack: 10
Power: 2x AA batteries
Dimensions: 69 x 169 x 14mm
Available colors: Red (bow + yellow body), Pink (bow + pink body)
Instax Mini Hello Kitty: Key features
The Instax Mini Hello Kitty is essentially an Instax Mini 9 in a different body. So it features the same fixed 60mm f/12.7 lens, 1/60 sec shutter speed and 5 shooting options: Indoors / Night (f/12.7), Cloudy / Shade (f/16), Sunny / Slightly Cloudy (f/22), Sunny and Bright (f/32) and High Key.
This means that the Instax Mini Hello Kitty also shares the same 0.6m close focusing distance as the Mini 9. In order to shoot selfies (where there is a small selfie mirror on the lens) or close-ups, you'll need to clip on the separate (but included) close-up lens, which enables you to shoot at up to 0.35m.
It's worth noting that the Instax Mini 11 features an updated lens with an integrated close-up mode, which not only removes the need for the (easily lost) attachment but also enables you to shoot at a slightly closer 0.3m.
Still, neither the 9 or 11 possess this camera's killer feature: it's the shape of Hello Kitty's bulbous, balloon-like head! It even has her signature bow as a separate, molded element on the front!
This does mean that the body is significantly bigger than a regular Mini (see below), and is about 100g heavier as well. Obviously it wasn't designed with ergonomics in mind, but it's certainly no clunkier to handle than your typical Polaroid camera.
Instax Mini Hello Kitty: Performance
Since the Instax Mini Hello Kitty contains the same innards as a Mini 9, the performance and resulting pictures are basically identical. Images are crisp and clear, with great contrast and plenty of detail (in instant camera terms, of course!).
The need to attach the close-up filter whenever you want to take a selfie or shoot something a bit closer to you remains a faff. We would love it if this camera featured the integrated close-up lens featured in the Mini 11, but that's one of the key things that differentiates that model from both this and the Mini 9.
The camera lacks a self-timer, and as such also lacks a tripod mount, though those feel less egregious here since we can't see kids (clearly the target audience for this product) lamenting their absence.
Quite the contrary; such is its lack of complexity that this is one of the best cameras for kids, given its straightforward operation, (virtually) instant gratification, pint-sized physical pictures and, of course, its undeniably adorable design.
Instax Mini Hello Kitty: Verdict
In conventional terms, this is an inferior camera to both the Instax Mini 11 and Instax Mini 9; the former has integrated close-up shooting and a superior flash, while the latter is smaller and more ergonomic (and, if you buy one of the limited edition colors, you also get three colored filters that act like gels for creative shooting).
However, if you're reading this review, you don't care about those things. All you need to know is that this camera produces great pictures (on a par with the Mini 9) and everybody who sees it wants to pick it up and play with it. All of which makes it a brilliant gift for little ones… or geeks such as this reviewer who love unique cameras.