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Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Digital photography is such a sham! I'm such a sham! I can't help but think this after a couple of weeks with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic camera.

With a release of the shutter this "modern Polaroid camera" spits out a picture you watch develop over the course of the next minute or so. In an otherwise digital world, where a printed picture is as desirable as a newspaper, the Neo Classic offers a unsettling glimse into how photographers used to approach the craft — with one shot.

One shot to get it right. No do-overs, no second chances, no endless supply of film, and certainly no Photoshop.

I use the term unsettling because as a creative perfectionist, the inability to tweak every detail of an image is quite a burden, especially at 70 cents a take. And I call myself a sham because without the conveniences of modern digital photography, my results have been mediocre at best.

This small subset of prints tell the story:

1 ) Probably my best image so far, this picture of the dogs is as close as I've come to getting it right — interesting composition, decent exposure. Exposure has been the toughest variable to get right to this point.

2 ) The Mini 90 offers in-camera settings that allow for exposure compensation, which I used here to expose for the tea glass and blow out the background. I almost got it, but should have doubled down on the effect.

3 ) The setting I'm most curious to explore is bulb exposure, which allows me to hold the shutter open for up to 10 seconds. I used it here to capture the night sky but failed miserably. Then I read the aperature is fixed at f/12.7 and realized I never had a chance, even at 10 seconds.

4 ) I chose to include this photo because I think it's most representative of what this camera is about — playfully documenting this and that with results you can instantly hold in your hand. Here we are celebrating my birthday with the camera set to self-timer mode, a feature perfect for this kind of photography.

One thing that might surprise you: below is a size comparison between an Instax print and a traditional Polaroid (ma, bro, and me, circa '92). They're smaller than I anticipated at about 2" x 3.5".

And another for the road — she's right, "nobody's perfect," but she's pretty damn close :) Thanks for the b-day present wifey!