Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s & 55i

Approx a month ago, I suddenly went crazy over instant cameras and bugged T to bring me to buy one. Being a very practical guy, he furiously tried to dissuade me from buying and our conversation went something like this:

Me: I WANT TO BUY A FUJIFILM INSTAX!!
T: Don’t be mad laa. These pictures will fade away after a few years one don’t waste money!
Me: Who says so!! *digs into cupboard and pulls out old Polaroid photos* SEE! Still so good condition!!

And yep. Contrary to the belief that instant photos can’t last long, my photos are a living example of how printed photos can be kept for a long time IF kept properly.

Polaroids taken when I was 9. Ermm that means approx 11 years ago.

So in the end I managed to convince him to let me get one. Went on a shopping trip to Funan and was shocked to hear that everywhere’s sold out!! Guess I’m not the only one who’s suddenly crazy over this thing. Managed to get a Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s in the end.

Some background info:
Fujifilm has 2 ranges of instant cameras.  The normal big Fujifilm Instax (think is model number 200/210), and the Fujifilm Instax Mini. The normal Instax uses larger and wider films (much like normal Polaroid size), while the Instax Mini uses smaller credit card sized films.

The Instax Mini range is again broken down into a few other models with different built and function. The cheapest is the Mini 7/7s,  followed by Mini 25, Mini 50s, Mini 55i.  Well can’t really say which is the cheapest according to range actually coz different places sell them differently and it really depends on your luck and if you’ve searched hard enough But technology wise it should follow that trend I’ve listed.

So anyway, I got the Mini 7s coz it was the cheapest (and the only one I could find). But after experimenting with it, I regretted it big time. The difference between the mini 7s and the rest (Mini 25 and above) is that there’s a need for manual adjustment of lighting before you take a picture. (4 different modes)

Manual mode adjustments for Mini 7s.
(Pic koped from google.)

The bad thing about this manual adjustment is that most of my pics came out either over/underexposed. Even though they did give a guide to what mode it should be set to depending on the lightings (like clear, cloudy blah blah), but sometimes this kind of things are really ambiguous.

Like for example: If you’re in a shady place (sheltered) with bright lights? Do you switch the mode to dark/cloudy/clear?! Requires really quite abit of trial and error to get it right. If it’s a digicam it’s fine, cos you have like infinity shots to test. But are you sure you want to waste a pack (or even more) of films just for testing? Gonna cost you a bomb really.

Another difference between the Mini 7s and the rest of the Minis is that you even have to manually pull out the lens to power on the camera. Unlike the rest where there is a proper “Power” button for you to press.

So yep here’s a pic I took of my Mini 7s.
Usually comes in pink/blue, with limited edition full white/choco pieces which usually cost much more (Like $30) depending on where you get it.

So yep. I hated the 7s so much that I put it on sale after the first time I’ve used it and got a Mini 55i straight after that. So I thought since I’ve experimented with both models before, I should do a comparison between the two to my best knowledge for others who are stuck in choosing a Mini Instax model!

Yeppp looks so much more pro than the toy-ish looking 7s right!
Don’t really fancy the design (too metallic for my liking) though but at least I’m impressed enough by the technology! So much like a digicam just that it’s an instant camera.

Comes with this close-up lens too! Attach it onto the camera for better focus when taking pictures from 30cm away. Good for self-shots! The Mini 7s doesn’t come with a close-up lens and it costs about $17 to get one!

Picture comparisons:

The Mini 55i has this “smart background” technology incorporated that produces pictures with brighter background that’s more true to the real thing whereas since the Mini 7s is perpetually in flash mode, the background would always be black. Boo. (Mini 25/50i should have this technology as well!)

Love the colours of the Mini 55i cos of the lighter background I think! (But if you take it in clear sunny places shouldn’t be of any difference, just the risk of getting overexposed shots for the Mini 7s!)

But however, don’t expect too much from a Mini 55i all the time, cos if the lighting condition of the place’s really too bad, the pictures from both cameras actually turn out roughly the same!

First time I got slightly overexposed shots from the Mini 55i. (Can adjust by choosing the “darkening” function I suppose)
Only difference with the Mini 7s picture is the lighter background that’s more true to the actual location!

Did up a summary of the comparison between the Mini 7s and Mini 25/50s/55i:

Hope I didn’t miss out anything.
I didn’t really research much on the difference between the Mini 25/50s/55i models but I think the 55i and 50i has got self-timers compared to the Mini 25.

Only downside of the Mini 25 and above models compared to the Mini 7s is the batteries used. The Mini 7s uses 4 AA batteries while the rest uses 2 CR2 batteries which are much more expensive. (Cheapest CR2 batteries I’ve found in stores cost $5/pc, so 2 would cost $10. *stabs) And according to the manual, 2 CR2 batteries can last about 30 shots (20 for 4 AA batts), it’s definitely going to be quite a heavy variable cost to you in future. The CR2 batteries that came with my camera is still lasting till now since I’ve bought it (Took about 20+ shots in total till date only, so doubt there’s much occasions for use, hence low cost of batts!) [EDIT (18 Dec 2011): The batteries are still working for me as of today.  Shot a total of about 40+ shots.)

As well as possible blurry shots (due to intelligent flash that lowers shutter speed hence more prone to shaky photos), so be careful to hold your camera steady when taking the pics when using a mini 25 and above models. (Or alternatively, turn on the flash to avoid blurry photos if you’ve really shaky hands. But the pics would turn out with dark bgs instead of those that are true to the surroundings, i.e. no intelligent flash)

So if you’re thinking of getting a Fujifilm Instax, I recommend to at least get a Mini 25 model (or above) if you’ve the $$ to spare! Actually if you include the closeup lenses cost and yada yada, it adds up to around the same value I guess. Not much of a diff!

And and, the other day when I took my 55i out to play, this girl beside me was so thrilled upon seeing my model (she owns a 7s herself) cos it looks so high tech with bling bling lights coming out when you power on the camera. Hah! I suppose the majority owns a Mini 7s, some have not even heard of 25/50s, much less 55i. So if you want to be unique, get something different!

Another pic to show! Chio colours!

Tadahs.
Proud owner of the Mini 55i. See my dangling closeup lens! They designed it in a way such that you can attach it to the strap so cute!
(Pic was taken quite some time. Pardon the very cui hair and face)

So since we’re on the topic of instant photos, I shall proceed to share on the importance of proper storing of your photos!!

I have this little book which came all the way back from my Primary school days, and there are little plastic covers for slotting of items. So that’s was where I (still) store my old Polaroids.

Hehe. Used to love this kind of books when I was young.

Very important to store your pictures (even for printed ones) behind a plastic wrapping to preserve it. Otherwise you’re going to end up with blurred photos few years down the road. How do I know it? By experimenting. Didn’t do any experiments on purpose but I happened to find some Polaroids which I just threw around (without storing them properly) and here’s what I get:

Can tell that the one without proper storing (left) is much blurer than the other one right!! Both is kept for approx 11 years, taken on the same day too!! (See location & clothes)

So yep. This should convince you to keep your photos properly!!! (I’ve 2 other Polaroids which weren’t stored properly too and all 2 were blurry. All those which were stored properly’s still good!!)

Bought a cute little album to store my pics from the Instax Mini!! Ermm. The album’s meant for storing Instax Mini pics in case you’re wondering (slots are designed to fit them nicely.) And yeppp I bought from this Shinzi-Katoh designer/brand again! Remember my post about my 2011 Scheduler? (Read them HERE) It’s the same designer/brand!

Little Red riding hood themed!! Aww so cute.

Can only store about 40+ pics if I recall correctly.

Something before I end this post:

Tribute to the company that began a revolution in photography by introducing instant cameras – Polaroid.

And yep, that’s my old Polaroid (Since 2001) which I’ve never got to use because films were out of production when I finally decided to use it!! ): ): Okay actually I bought the films (2 boxes), but I kept there for so long till it expired and I stupidly threw it away cos I thought they’ve expired. Only to find out after it’s out of production that that expired films can still be used (and creates some sort of nice effect!!) *Stabs. Still brand new in box look! Can’t believe I kept it for 10 years.

Anyway, a shopkeeper was telling me how the public always misuse the word “Polaroid camera” and use it as a generic term for instant cameras (including Fujifilm Instax). Well, I guess it’s because Polaroid was so successful with their instant cameras that over time everyone generalised instant cameras as “Polaroid cameras”! (Even I made that mistake) Just like how everyone generalise sticky tapes as “Scotch tapes” and just use it as a generic term, but it’s actually just a brand name by 3M company.

End of post!! Oh gosh. Been wanting to do a review on this for super long but kept delaying, but it’s finally done!

Hope that it’s informative for those who are deciding which model to get/wondering what’s the difference between the different Instax Minis! Above are just some of my thoughts on the 7s & 55i (since I own both at some point of time before), so please do not kill me if you think you should have gotten a 7s instead of 25/55i!!

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EDIT (27 Feb): Do you know that the Mini 50s actually costs like about $50-150 (depending on where you get it) more expensive than than the Mini 55i?! I’ve done a little research on the difference between those 2 and the only diff I can find is the casing colour, as well as the illumination lights on the 55i which is not found on the 50s. Mini 50s has this super chio piano  black, which I believe is a special edition piece (hence the markup of price??). The illumination lights on the 55i will be activated when you power on the camera or when taking a photo. Catches alot of attention if you ask me haha. And also about the closeup lens, my Mini 55i came along with it, but I’m not sure about the 50s. The Mini 25 should come along with it if I remembered correctly. Actually according to model numbers, the Mini 55 should be of higher range than the 50 (similar to most gadgets model naming), but I’ve done some research and the mini 50s is actually just a newer version of the mini 50. (Not the Mini 55i, the 55i is still the highest end – with extra bling bling illuminiation lights lol) Function and lens wise seems the same, just that it comes in piano black. (Just a toy camera!! How different do you expect the lens and quality of different models to be) So yep basically you pay the extra $$ just for the colour. (Like how you pay $100 more for Hello Kitty edition, lol)

So anyway, the highest I’ve seen a retail shop selling the Mini 50s is $378, which is a total rip-off price if you ask me. (But the Mini 7s is of relatively reasonable price in that shop) Considering the Mini 50s at that shop is like approx $200 more than what I paid for my 55i. With that $200, I can easily get a decent second hand camera. And if you ask me, piano black on a instant toy camera seems way too professional. But that’s just my two cents.

So basically, the difference between Mini 25 and 50s/55i is that it lacks the self-timer function (quality wise not too sure), so we’re paying more for the self-timer. And the difference between the Mini 50s and 55i is: 1) You pay more for Mini 50s for the special edition colour 2) No bling bling lights for the Mini 50s.

Yep that’s all I’ve to add. Basically covered all the differences between the Mini 7s, 25, 50s and 55i.

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8 Comment(s) to “Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s & 55i”

  • Jen Says:

    great post. does the 55 comes in other colours?

    • felicianeo Says:

      Thanks dear! Hmm I’m not really sure about that but I think there might be orange as well though I’ve never seen it in stores before so blue should be the most common! (:

  • Corinne Says:

    Hi pretty , where did you get your 55i ? I got a 7s and it sucks ttm . Regretted getting that :(

  • Corinne Says:

    And how much you got 55i for ? :)

  • gedeon Says:

    Hi

    Is the difference between 55i and 7s really that great? Is it because of the intelligent flash thing?
    Any idea whether a 25 would be as good as 55i?

    Thanks alot!

    • felicianeo Says:

      Yep I’ve sample pictures to show the picture quality of the 7s and 55i!
      Here: http://i1032.photobucket.com/albums/a407/felicianeo1/instax/collage3.jpg
      (But this pic shows the difference between indoors shooting with equally bright backgrounds, picture quality would turn out about the same in dark indoor backgrounds)

      And another thing about the 7s is that it kept giving me underexposed/overexposed shots cos it was difficult to grasp the exposure settings. (Very ambiguous and turns out different for different scenarios) And this is the main reason why I hated the 7s. Wasted alot of films on my side.

      I don’t own a mini 25, so I’m not really sure but I reckon it should be about the same since there’s auto exposure settings with intelligent flash as well, just that with no self-timer. (: