Perfectly Imperfect #20

August #20

The image surface of the Instax Mini film is 46x62mm – which means that most of us using a desktop machine will be viewing the scan above at considerably more than the prints physical size.

The whole point of Instax Mini though is not photographic-perfection but that is that it is fun. It’s not a serious photographic tool, but meant to be something that captures the moment. Pixel peepers need not apply! This was the very first shot from a secondhand Instax Mini 70 camera and despite its flaws captures a spontaneous moment in a way that couldn’t or indeed wouldn’t be captured by the nearest camera at the time – my Fuji XT3 which has a 100-400 lens permanently fitted.

Horses for courses.

365-2019-232
iPhone XR capture

As this was the very first image we captured I was not aware of the light leak, something I associate with Lomography or Polaroid but until now not with Fuji Instax. I found that I could cure the problem by using the case which came with the camera (which is for a Mini 8 but that’s another story). I think I’ve isolated the point at which light is leaking in so it’s either some black gaffer tape or the neat brown, semi-fitted case.

Photography is fun, we all lose our mojo at times, what better way to regain it!

Instant Trials

To mark my resurgent interest in instant photography I have set myself an additional daily challenge for August. In addition to the ongoing 365 Challenge I am also making at least one instant photo a day using the instant cameras that I’ve been acquiring from a well-known online auction site. But, it seems that not every day is suitable for instant photography, at least not when you’re still only a tiny way along the learning curve; my SX-70 Sonar for example uses 100 ISO film and needs lots of light or a tripod.

August #16
Instax Wide 210 – slightly more forgiving with 800 ISO film

The Lomo’ Instant uses Instax Mini film which is rated at 800 ISO so I thought I would use it for my daily image on 16th. Now, I am already liking the aesthetic from the Lomo Instant – I am amazed at how differently it renders images than say the Instax when they are using the same film stock. One thing however that is becoming very clear is that setting the correct exposure first time is going to come from experience. My Fuji Instax cameras generally do very well in Automatic mode and do it consistently but results from the first pack of film in the Lomo Instant are certainly not consistent and I am already sensing a tendency to underexpose.

LOMO TEST STRIP
Three test shots – Lomo’ Instant and Fuji Instax Mini film

For my first shot I left the camera on the Automatic everything setting and the result was very under exposed so I then shot another at Automatic but with +2EV of compensation set with much better results. For good measure I also shot a third image at +1EV for comparison. The results are shown above. In the end I used the version from the Instax Wide 210 shown at the top of the page for my Daily Instant but I have to say that the Lomo has the potential for much more atmospheric images once I’ve mastered it’s foibles.

To be fair this was not an easy scene on a dull day when it was actually raining but it’s an exercise I can repeat on a brighter day to see what happens in different conditions. I will also put the camera on a tripod and play with an external light meter to see how well the camera settings relate to light meter readings.

Instant Photography

Stuck at home. Stuck shooting the same things for my 365 Project. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

Stuck in a rut!

No citation needed …

Now, in the past, with a decent salary coming in, I would simply buy some new kit. It works every time … or at least I convince myself it does. But, with just my pension now (yup – I’m getting old) the funds for such indulgences are simply not there. So, what about eBay? A secondhand (has to be, they haven’t been made since the 1980s) Polaroid Land Camera 1000 for under £30 was a temptation too far (why do I browse eBay when I’m low on funds?) and two weeks later I have a desk covered in Polaroids and Instax instant prints. Oh, yes, I found a brand-new Fuji Instax SQ6 half-price too 🙂

© Dave Whenham
First play … Fuji Instax Square SQ6

What a blast!

I am still stuck at home and still stuck with the same subjects BUT I am re-energised! Learning a new discipline, working out the quirks of each camera and film combination, re-learning the joys of shooting with a Polaroid Land Camera 1000. Every day is a school day at present. I had forgotten the pure fun that this type of photography provides. The picture literally develops before your eyes. Now I know that digital is the ultimate in instant photography, on my iPhone a big, clear image is ready to view instantly, but I cannot produce a physical print that I can hold and pass around. The grandchildren’s faces as the print whirrs its way out of the camera is a delight to see. Indeed, Harry, who usually hides his head when you point your phone at him, smiles and says “cheese” whenever I pick up an instant camera.

© Dave Whenham

Zac, Harry and I spent an hour shooting with the Instax on its first outing – priceless!

So, I did succumb to GAS and bought some kit. But, film aside, it was in my defence relatively cheap kit and used at that. The cost of film means that I will need to limit my instant shooting BUT that is part of the joy too. Press the shutter of the Instax and my subconscious thinks “80p” whereas pressing the shutter of the Polaroid it registers nearer £2. Cost never enters my head whenever I press the shutter of my Fuji X-H1 – yet the camera and lenses cost a considerable amount of real, hard cash. When I’ve some time I will work out the relative costs per shutter press – but I’m too busy having fun at the moment!