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Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review: the best easy-to-use Instax Mini model

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review: the best easy-to-use Instax Mini model

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
$60-70 | Instaxus.com

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a fresh entry-level instant camera from Fujifilm and a refinement of the Instax Mini 9 (there is no Mini 10). As the name suggests the camera makes use of the Instax Mini film format.

Improvements include a new 'Selfie Mode' and better auto exposure compared to its predecessor. But unlike its higher-end siblings, the Mini 25/26, Mini 70 and Mini 90, there are no additional creative exposure modes or special features to speak of. That said, the camera is simple to operate and capable of producing lovely images in a variety of lighting conditions.

Key specs:

  • Retractable 35mm equiv. F12.7 lens
  • Full-automatic exposure control (flash always fires)
  • Variable shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/250 sec and slow synchro flash for low light
  • Selfie mirror on front of lens
  • Selfie/close-up mode
  • Auto frame counter
  • Powered by two AA batteries (100 shots / 10 packs per fresh set of batteries)
  • Available in: Blush Pink, Ice White, Sky Blue, Lilac Purple, Charcoal Black

Operation

The Mini 11 comes with two accessory buttons you can affix to the shutter release via double sided tape (included). I attached the glow in the dark button (shown above).

The Instax Mini 11 is really straightforward to use, making it a great choice for kids. Simply press the button next to the lens to pop it out, switch the camera on and hit the shutter button by the viewfinder to take a photo; there are no other buttons to fumble with. When you're done, push the lens back into the body to turn it off.

The Instax Mini 11 is really straightforward to use, making it a great choice for kids

The camera does a have a selfie mode as well as a small selfie mirror on the front of the lens. To engage the mode, pull the very front of the lens outward until the words 'Selfie on' appear (see image below); it admittedly took some digging through the instructions to figure this out.

Usability

Selfie mode = engaged.

The camera is, by default, held in the vertical orientation, making it good for portraiture. The viewfinder is a bit small, but that's par for the course with these Instax Mini format cameras.

In use, I found the shutter button can be easy to bump accidentally, and given the high cost of film, that's a bummer. Fujifilm does include two accessory shutter releases that affix to the button via double-sided tape – one glows in the dark! Installation is tricky, but once attached, I did find my self less likely to pop off an unintended frame.

The shutter button can be easy to bump accidentally and given the high cost of film, that's a bummer

Another note about usability: the selfie mode mechanism is a bit hard to engage and feels like it could be a fail point of the camera. It takes a good bit of force to yank the lens forward into selfie mode and retracting the lens after selfie mode has been engaged is a fiddly affair.

The Instax Mini 11 is held in the vertical orientation.

Image quality

Selfie shot in the camera's standard mode. Focus is a little soft, but the exposure is on the money. Selfie shot using the selfie mode. The subjects are sharp but the exposure is hot.

Image quality from the Mini 11 is good through-and-through. The camera handles balancing ambient light with its flash output with ease, in most shooting scenarios. The addition of variable shutter speeds and slow synchro flash definitely seem to give it more versatility in tricky lighting than Mini 9, which has a fixed shutter speed of 1/60 sec.

When shooting in bright daylight, the inability to turn off the flash from firing can be annoying. There's also no infinity mode, so shots in which the subject is far away can look a tad soft (see examples in the gallery below).

Using the selfie mode can sometimes result in blown highlights

Like most Instax Mini cameras, the Mini 11 produces its best images in good and moderate lighting conditions with subjects at relatively close distances (within the maximum flash range of 2.7 m / 8.85 ft). Shots in very low light tend to come out darker than desired. This is where some sort of exposure compensation would be useful. The Mini 25/26 and Mini 70, for instance, both offer a 'High Key' mode that adds +2/3rds exposure compensation.

I'm tempted to say skip the selfie mode all together. From my testing, a selfie in normal mode seems to produce a better exposure, though focus may be a tad soft. Using the dedicated selfie mode can sometimes result in blown highlights. That being said, I did have some success using the selfie mode for close-up subjects, like the pup shot leading the gallery below (which was shot in a very dark room).

Conclusion

Ultimately, the Instax Mini 11 is for those seeking the easiest-to-use instant camera for the most popular instant film format. The addition of more reliable auto exposure is appreciated. And though I have hesitations about the selfie mode, my guess is most folks who didn't read the instructions will never even find it. And that's just fine.

The Instax Mini 11 is for those seeking the easiest-to-use instant camera for the most popular instant film format

For those desiring something with more creative control, we highly recommend spending a few more bucks and getting the Instax Mini 70, which is more feature-rich and our choice as the best Instax Mini camera, for the most people.

What we like:

  • Very easy-to-use
  • Powered by two AA batteries
  • Improved auto exposure over predecessor

What we don't like:

  • No creative modes or exposure compensation
  • Easy to accidentally hit shutter before installing accessory button
  • Mechanism to engage 'Selfie Mode' feels fragile
  • Flash always fires

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