Home Tech The Fujifilm Mini 99 is an instant camera that photographers will love

The Fujifilm Mini 99 is an instant camera that photographers will love

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Overhead view of the front of a manual camera sitting on a pile of scattered film photographs

The new Instax from Fujifilm Mini 99 is an Instax camera for lovers of manual controls and creative effects. It’s not the sharpest Instax I’ve tested (it’s still the Mini Evo), but it might be the most analog and the most capable.

The $200 price tag is well above entry-level Instax cameras, but here you get exposure and shutter control, a sampler of color effects, and even the ability to simulate light leaks, like you get with those. thrift store cameras gathering dust on your shelf.

manual power

With the exception of the bright, colorful entry-level cameras, Fujifilm’s Instax design generally tends toward a retro camera vibe, which holds true for the Mini 99. The 99 is all black instead of the silver and black found on the Mini. 90, but otherwise bears more than a passing resemblance to the previous model. Fujifilm hasn’t officially said that the 99 replaces the 90, but they feel close enough to each other that I’ll be surprised if the Mini 90 continues for long.

Photography: Scott Gilbertson

The lens on the Mini 99 is the same as the Mini 90. It is a 60mm lens made of plastic. It works with about the same field of view as a 35mm lens in the 35mm format (or if you prefer, between 1x and 2x on your iPhone). The shutter is fixed at f/12.7, meaning you’ll rely on the flash for all but bright and sunny outdoor shots. That said, unlike many other Instax models, with the Mini 99 you can turn off the flash for those well-lit shots.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Mini 99, and something new for the Instax line, are the manual focus options. The Mini 99 does not have true manual focus where you turn a dial on the lens to get precise focus. Instead, there are three focus zones: close-up (0.3 to 0.6 meters), mid-range (0.6 to 3 meters), and infinity (3 meters to infinity). For those who don’t know metrics, that equals 1 to 2 feet, 2 to 10 feet, and 10 feet to infinity. While it’s not as precise as a true manual focus camera, it offers more control than you typically get with Instax.

I find manual focusing a bit inconsistent; or rather, the results were less dramatic than I expected. Note that the aperture is f/12.7, which means the plane of focus will be quite wide, even with the focus area controls. The Mini 99 is capable of applying bokeh (the name for the out-of-focus regions in a photo), but only in very specific situations like a portrait, and even then you have to use the closest focus, which means the subject’s face is blurred. you’ll mostly see it fill the frame anyway. That said, being able to play with focus is a step up from most Instax cameras, where focus is fixed and the Mini 99’s 1-foot close focusing distance is nice for macro-style shots. Unlike some Instax cameras, there is parallax correction in the viewfinder so what you see in the frame is very close to what you get.

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