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Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 review: simple square-format fun

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 review: simple square-format fun

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Fujifilm Instax SQ1
$120 | Instaxus.com

With the launch of the SQ1, Fujifilm now has three models that use their square format Instax film. This is the most stripped-down of the three, in terms of operation.

The Fujifilm Instax SQ1 is a stylish and easy-to-operate instant camera that makes use of the brand's Instax Square format film. This new camera is a lot like shooting with a bulkier version of the Instax Mini 9/10/11, since it lacks many of the advanced features found on earlier Instax square cameras like the SQ6 or the SQ10. But it still manages to produce appealing Instax images, even if the shooter only has a very basic understanding of photography.

Key Specifications

  • Retractable lens (65.75mm, F12.6)
  • Full-automatic exposure control (flash always fires)
  • Variable shutter speeds from 1.6 to 1/400 sec including slow synchro for low light
  • Selfie mirror on front of lens
  • Selfie/close-up mode
  • Auto frame counter
  • Powered by two CR2 lithium batteries
  • Available in: Terracotta Orange, Glacier Blue and Chalk White

Operation

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 operates on two CR2 batteries that you load into the back of the camera near the door where you load a pack of Instax Square film. On the back of the camera you'll also find an automatic film counter showing you how many shots remain in your film pack and the camera’s viewfinder. Turn the camera on by rotating the lens to the 'on' position; if you are shooting a selfie or want a macro shot rotate the camera’s lens one more time to put it into 'selfie' mode (effective for subjects between 0.3 and 0.5m away).

Shooting with the Instax Square SQ1 is incredibly straightforward. Simply turn the camera on, look through the viewfinder and press the shutter on the front grip of the camera. If you're shooting a selfie, use the small mirror on the front of the lens to frame the shot.

Usability

The viewfinder on the SQ1 is a tad small.

The SQ1 is bulkier than its Instax Mini counterparts, but that's to be expected since it’s shooting on a much larger piece of film (Instax Square picture size is 62 x 62mm). The plastic build quality of the camera feels sturdy and the ribbed grip on the right hand side makes it comfortable to hold. Be mindful while handling the grip especially if the camera is turned on – the shutter is located on the grip and you might accidentally press it before you’ve framed the shot. Instax film isn’t exactly cheap and it can be frustrating to waste one of the 10 frames in a pack. That being said, some of my accidental shutter releases ended up creating pictures that I like quite a bit.

The shutter is located on the grip and you might accidentally press it before you’ve framed the shot

The SQ1 lacks some of the advanced features that you will find on the SQ6, like double exposures, landscape mode, lighten and darken modes, and a self-timer. It’s more similar to the entry-level Instax Mini cameras, with the big distinction being that it can shoot bigger pieces of square film.

Although the camera is larger than the varieties that shoot Instax Mini film, the SQ1 does feel more portable than 2018’s SQ6.

Image Quality

You'll get the best results from this camera when shooting outside in sunny conditions. But it does have a powerful-enough flash to work well once the sun sets. The auto-exposure occasionally did seem to struggle when shooting indoors with mixed lighting situations though. It’s the one time when I wished that the camera at least featured the lighter/darker setting found on some Instax models. Regardless of the lighting conditions, this camera's simple lens is satisfyingly sharp (enough).

Conclusion

Although the Instax SQ1 lacks some of the features found on the more advanced SQ6 (which has an MSRP of $10 more), it’s incredibly easy to operate, has a stylish look, and produces Instax prints with mostly accurate exposures and eye-popping colors. The shutter placement takes some getting used to, but it’s comfortable in hand and not so bulky that you’ll leave it at home – and it’s certainly more fun to shoot with than the hybrid digital/analog SQ10. The simplicity of operating the SQ1 makes this an Instax Square camera that photographers and non-photographers will enjoy shooting with.

What we like

  • Easy-to-operate
  • Accurate exposures outdoors
  • Comfortable to hold and operate
  • Stylish look
  • Square format film

What we don’t like

  • Placement of shutter button
  • CR2 batteries can be difficult to find
  • No creative modes like double exposure or lighten/darken

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