Fujifilm’s latest Instax Mini camera dials up the cool factor
Pros Easy to useAttractive retro designCheap filmCons Always-on flashViewfinder inaccurate for close-upsExposures a touch inconsistent
Shaking off the bubbly colourful aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Fujifilm’s entry-level instant cameras, the new Instax Mini 40 oozes with retro style, with a streamlined silhouette and classic colourway.
On paper, the Mini 40 mirrors Fuji’s popular Instax Mini 11 camera, but it’s been repackaged in a new vintage-inspired form factor. With at least a couple of design cues taken from Fujifilm’s popular X Series of mirrorless cameras, the Mini 40 feels decidedly more grown up than other Instax releases of late.
With an attractive aesthetic paired with Fuji’s now well-refined Instax Mini design, the Mini 40 is cool, fun and affordable, and it’s likely to tick all the right boxes for a lot of people.
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Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review: What do you get for the money?
The Instax Mini 40 comes in at £90, and is bundled with a matching wrist strap along with a pair of AA batteries – simply add a pack of Instax Mini film and you’re all set. Price-wise it sits above the £70 entry-level Mini 11 and just below the £100 Mini 70 in Fuji’s current Instax Mini range.
The camera features a vintage-inspired black leather-effect finish with silver accents, which although entirely plastic look convincing enough from a distance. On the front of the camera, there’s a chromed shutter button, viewfinder window, flash and of course the lens.
In order to turn it on, you press a small tab on the side, which simultaneously pops out the lens and retracts the lens cover. A collar around the circumference of the lens barrel can be extended to engage the camera’s close-focus “selfie mode”, and a small mirror positioned to the left of the lens can be used to help you frame your self-portraits.
A pair of strap mounting points can be found on either side of the camera, with the AA battery compartment and an ejection slot for exposed images located on the top.
The film compartment opens from the rear, with Instax Mini Film cartridges simply needing to be dropped in. A frame counter can also be found nearby, as well as a comfortable thumb rest.
Perhaps the best thing, though, is that Instax Mini Film continues to be the cheapest instant format on the market, with a pack of 50 shots costing around £35.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review: What’s new?
The Mini 40 is essentially an Instax Mini 11 with a new retro-styled body. This means that it picks up Fuji’s latest Instax refinements but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.
In contrast to brightly coloured designs found across much of the Instax range, the Mini 40 is a far more serious, grown-up-looking camera that bears more than a passing resemblance to Fuji’s X Series line of interchangeable lens cameras.
Like the new Mini 11, the Mini 40 picks up a new close-focus “selfie” mode. By tugging on a collar around the lens, the minimum focus distance can be quickly reduced from 0.5m to a selfie-friendly 0.3m.
Unlike some older Instax cameras, the Mini 40 is also now fully automatic. It features a fixed f/12.7 aperture and has an electronic shutter that can vary between 1/2 and 1/250 sec depending on the available light. This means there are no exposure controls to fiddle with, simply point and shoot. Like the Mini 11 and the Mini 9 before it, though, the flash still fires automatically on every shot, no matter the lighting.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review: What do we like?
First and foremost, I’m a big fan of the Mini 40’s retro design. Don’t get me wrong, the brightly coloured, chunky Instax Mini cameras have their charm, but for me, this is the most stylish Mini since the 90 Neo Classic. While this more serious aesthetic may only run skin deep – it is still a point-and-shoot, after all – it feels more grown up than Fuji’s other entry-level Instax cameras.
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It’s not bristling with features, but the Mini 40 is still a lot of fun to use. Thanks to the automatic exposure, it’s incredibly user-friendly, so anyone can pick it up and start snapping right away. While it might not offer the level of fine-tuning available on more advanced cameras, since there’s an inherent unpredictability to instant photos at the best of times, this casual point-and-shoot operation really suits the medium.
The close-up selfie mode function is also nicely implemented. It’s far more practical than the supplementary lens adapter used by Instax Mini 9, and it’s quicker to engage than the electronic selfie mode on the Mini 70 and Mini 90. Pair this with the lens-adjacent mirror and your selfies and group shots with friends are a breeze to shoot.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Instax Mini film format continues to be a winner. While the credit card-sized prints aren’t the largest, the pictures are colourful and contrasty and great for sharing with friends, family or collecting in albums. At around 70p per shot, it undercuts Fujifilm’s larger Instax Square film and is significantly cheaper to shoot than Polaroid’s I-Type film. This lower per-shot cost allows you to be a little more carefree and concentrate on the photos rather than your wallet.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review: How could it be better?
While the Mini 40 is a decent little camera, at £90 it is starting to creep into the mid-range instant camera price bracket. For £10 more you can pick up the Instax Mini 70, which packs exposure compensation, an infinity-focus landscape mode, a self timer and a faster top shutter speed of 1/400. Alternatively, the similarly retro-styled Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic can be snatched up for £120, which in addition to the above also squeezes in a multiple exposure mode and uses a rechargeable battery.
Despite the automatic functionality, the Mini 40’s exposures are also still just a little unpredictable. Complex lighting situations can trick the camera’s internal meter and, since there’s no option to dial in exposure compensation, sometimes you just have to cross your fingers. With a maximum shutter speed of 1/250, shots in very bright conditions can also end up looking washed out.
Although I’m a fan of the close-focus mode, it’s best saved for selfies. While the front-facing mirror works well while in front of the camera, as there’s no parallax correction in the viewfinder, framing close-ups relies on guesswork and a lot of luck.
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As with the Mini 11 and the Mini 9 before that, the always-on flash also continues to annoy. While it’s certainly better to have a flash than be without one, there are certain situations where it’s unnecessary, inappropriate or simply a waste of battery life. Frustratingly, it can also feel a tad overpowering when used on close-up shots and selfies, resulting in some images looking blown out. It’s relatively easy to block the flash with your hand if needed, but that’s hardly the most elegant solution.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review: Should I buy it?
While the similarly retro-styled Mini 90 offers a more fully-featured experience for £30 more and the Mini 11 offers an identical set of features for £20 less, for many buyers the Instax Mini 40 is likely to sit on that fine line between affordability and high-end features.
Like all instant cameras it has its quirks, though. The automatic metering isn’t fool-proof and the always-on flash can be irksome. The stylised credit card-sized prints it produces, however, are charming, affordable and great for sticking on the fridge, collecting in albums and sharing with friends.
If you’re looking for a fun, easy-to-use instant camera that’s stylish to boot, then the Instax Mini 40 is an excellent choice.
£89.99 Buy now