Instax Mini Evo Review: Instant Movie Fun Meets Wrong Digital Camera

What makes instant film fun to use decades after its peak in popularity? I’d bet those were the same things that made things fun back then: not overthinking things and staying in the moment while creating unique prints that convey those fleeting moments so perfectly. The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo takes a different approach.

Build quality and design

Measuring 4.8 x 3.4 x 1.4 inches (122.9 x 87 x 36 millimeters) and weighing 10 ounces (285 grams), the form factor allows the Instax Mini Evo to be easily carried around. no matter where. The lens protrudes only about a quarter of an inch from the camera body, further enhancing portability and is thin enough to slip easily into a full-size bag or purse.

The exterior of the Instax Mini Evo is a mix of plastic and leather coverings on the handling areas. The silver and black version I’m looking at has a nice retro look, especially from the front and top. On the back, the three-inch LCD screen helps reveal its true age.

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo Instant Camera

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo Instant Camera

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo Instant CameraFujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo Instant Camera

Common sense will prevail when it comes to sustainability. It obviously won’t stand up to rough use or withstand a lot of weight or a foray into a rainstorm, and I think when you hold it in your hands it will be obvious.

The mirrorless camera has a total of 15 buttons and dials to use (including each direction of the D-pad), which increases the focus on how to use the camera. Six of those controls are tagged, but I found myself wishing even more or all of them were.

What can be confusing about the design is that it feels like Fujifilm first made it look like a retro camera and then assigned the functions later. For example, the thing that looks like a film advance lever is actually how to print a photo. The large dial on the top is not for shutter speed, it is for changing the digital filter. The protruding 28mm f / 2 lens can be rotated not to adjust focus or aperture, but to change the type of digital lens. None of this sounds particularly intuitive.

Holding the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo instant camera

Holding the Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo instant camera

In addition to the difficult adjustment period, the basic design mostly looks like a standard landscape-oriented camera – there’s even a cold shoe mount at the top – when in fact the labeled buttons and interface. LCDs are all in portrait orientation (place the cold shoe on the right side when held “correctly”). The vertical orientation of the camera correlates with the 2 × 3 inch prints coming out of the side (top?) Of the camera. Shooting in this manner produces a printed image 2.5 inches high and approximately 1.75 inches wide with thin borders on the sides, a medium border on the top, and a wide border on the sides. low. If you printed a photo in landscape orientation, it looks a bit funny with the uneven borders on the sides.

Image quality

Talking about the image files produced by the Instax Mini Evo involves going out and saying what everyone else is probably thinking. Yes, compared to modern smartphone cameras or even beginner DSLRs, I declare these photos to be of very poor quality. However, I have to admit that good image quality is not necessarily the goal of the device and if there are any quirks, they may even be a desire. Your appreciation of the Mini Evo will be directly related to the quality of your sale conceptually rather than its image quality compared to anything else.

Landscape photo taken with the Instax Mini Evo.
Digital photo file extracted from the microSD card I had in the Instax Mini Evo.
Dog photo taken with the Instax Mini Evo.
Digital photo file. Shot with the camera’s “Blue” filter turned on.
Digital photo file taken with Mini Evo.
Digital photo file taken with Mini Evo.
Instax prints taken and developed from the Mini Evo.
Instax prints taken and developed from the Mini Evo.

The Instax Mini Evo captures 4.9 megapixel (2560 x 1920 pixels) photos with its 1/5 inch CMOS sensor. The camera tries to compensate for the lack of dynamic range and fine detail by sharpening photos and improving contrast. These problems can be exacerbated with some of the filters on offer, such as Vivid and Retro. That said, anyone who’s ever printed photos knows that digital files on a computer that look over the top can actually look pretty good when put on paper, or in this case, on instant film. I think this is the case with the Mini Evo because the low print resolution doesn’t really allow anything to be “sharp” and high contrast only allows objects to be defined in such small prints.

The 10 digital filters and 10 lens effects can be combined for a total of 100 unique looks. Unfortunately, many effects are not very pleasant. Lens effects like Vignette, Soft Focus, and Blur are extremely powerful. The fisheye effect misses the lens of a real fisheye lens and actually zooms in on the photo more than normal to create a bad aspect of barrel distortion rather than having the semblance of an ultra-wide fisheye view . Apart from the ordinary lens, there is only one that I keep coming back to, and that is Half Frame. This lens effect setting allows two photos captured consecutively to go into a single print.

Instax print taken and developed from the Mini Evo.
Instax print taken and developed from the Mini Evo.

It’s more the same story with digital filters. Other than the normal setting, the ones I thought weren’t totally unwanted were Retro, the Blue, Red, and Yellow color filters, and maybe Monochrome. I have big doubts that the folks at Fujifilm who develop the incredible film sims for the X series cameras have anything to do with the Instax line, and that’s a shame because their input is desperately needed. .

A camera that prints or a printer that shoots?

Ultimately, what I love most about the Instax Mini Evo is the super-simple printing experience. The camera itself is nothing special except that it perhaps serves as a conversation starter. The good news is that even though I’m tired of carrying around a $ 200 camera that’s worse than any smartphone made in the past decade and that’s already with me always, there is an iOS and Android app out there that. connects to the Mini Evo. This way I can take photos with my phone and print them instantly through the camera at any time.

I get the benefits of decent filters and photo edits on my iPhone, as well as the sharing aspect of Instax impressions on the go. But if this is what the Mini Evo is destined to become for buyers, why not just get a small Instax printer in the first place?

Instax print developed from a photo taken with a Nikon D850 camera.
Photo taken with a Nikon D850, imported to an iPhone, then connected to the Mini Evo and printed on Instax instant film.

Are there any alternatives?

Fujifilm offers a variety of Instax-branded instant cameras that shoot the same film as the Mini Evo. The Instax Mini 11, for example, is a low-end option that’s much cheaper at $ 70 but is a purely analog experience with barebones functionality. For me, this is the right approach for a modern instant camera. Above, for $ 100 there is the Mini 40 which seems to share everything in common with the Mini 11 but with a more “adult” look. The Instax Mini 70 raises the price to $ 140 and adds focus ranges (macro, normal, landscape), a self-timer, faster shutter speed, tripod mount, and better battery life.

Then there’s the $ 160 Instax Hybrid Mini LiPlay which adds the part digital and part analog feature set that can also be found in the Mini Evo. It has an LCD screen on the back for composing photos and for setting options in the digital menu. It can be connected to a smartphone as a remote shutter release for the Instax camera or as a printer for photos on your phone. It appears to be missing all 10 filters and 10 lenses found in the Mini Evo’s camera.

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini Evo and prints.

Overall, the new Mini Evo has the most advanced capabilities of any previous model. This is problematic in my eyes because it seems like the extra it costs are going towards things that aren’t helping it improve significantly.

Should you buy it?

No. The digital camera look of the Instax Mini Evo isn’t interesting enough on any level, whether it’s the pure picture quality or just the really well-developed effects that give it a presumably analog look. Printing is fun, but then why not just get an Instax printer? Having said that, if your reaction to all of this is that I “just don’t get it,” then you are exactly the type of buyer Fujifilm is looking for.


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