Fujifilm makes a number of instant cameras that use its popular Instax Mini film format. But none are as attractive as the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic ($179.95), which includes features like a rechargeable battery and fully automatic exposure, neither of which you’ll find in the entry-level Instax Mini 9. The Mini 90 costs more, but if you care as much about how your camera looks as you do about the images that come out of it, the Mini 90 could be worth the premium.
The Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is the best-looking Instax camera out there. The two-tone finish, with silver accents and your choice of black or brown leatherette, goes a long way to reinforce this. We received the Mini 90 for review in the brown finish, and it’s an absolute stunner in the looks department.
The size is similar to other cameras that use the Instax Mini film format. It measures 3.6 by 4.5 by 2.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 10.4 ounces.
The lens is the same 60mm f/12.7 design used in other Instax Mini cameras from Fujifilm. Its angle of view matches a 35mm full-frame lens, with an optical viewfinder for framing up images. If you’re used to shooting with a smartphone, you’ll find the angle of view to be a little bit tighter than your phone’s main camera. If you want a wider angle, think about the Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass, which features a brighter, wider-angle f/4.5 glass optic with a 21mm (full-frame equivalent) angle of view.
The Mini 90 handles like a point-and-shoot camera, a big plus for party shots, where guests making snapshots may not be expert photographers. When you turn it on it’s ready to make images, just point and press the shutter down. The flash fires automatically—you’ll absolutely need to use it when making images indoors or in the shade—though you can disable it with a rear button.
The other rear buttons allow you to snap macro shots, turn on the self-timer, brighten or darken automatic exposure, or switch the camera’s mode. There are exposure settings for portraits, landscape, fast action, long exposures, and multiple exposures on the same film frame. The active mode is shown on a monochrome rear display, and you can cycle through your options by repeatedly pressing the Mode button or twisting the control ring around the lens. A second LCD window shows the number of shots left in the film pack.
Ergonomics are a step up from the Mini 9. Dual shutter releases are a big reason. One is on the front, placed at the center of the On/Off switch, positioned for making images in portrait orientation. A second shutter, on the top plate, makes the Mini 90 comfortable to use when holding the camera in landscape mode, which can’t be said of the Mini 9.
There’s a tripod socket on the right side. It’s useful for times when you want to set the camera up for a group shot—there is a self-timer included—or for a long exposure. The Bulb exposure mode will keep the shutter open for as long as you hold it down, so you can capture light painting or other scenes that require longer exposure times.
The rechargeable battery is a rarity for instant cameras—typically they are powered by disposable AA or CR2 cells. The slim NP-45S battery loads in a rear compartment—the plastic battery cover is one of the few things about the Mini 90 that looks a little cheap. It’s rated for 100 shots—10 packs of film. An external battery charger is included—there’s no USB or power input on the Mini 90 for in-camera charging.
Instax Mini Film
The Instax Mini film format is the smallest you can get for a modern instant camera, capturing an image 1.8 by 2.4 inches in size—not that far off from the size of a 645 medium format film frame. It is available in color or monochrome, typically with a plain white border, but there are times where you can get special editions with more colorful borders. Prices vary, but expect to spend about $0.60 for each color photo and about a dollar for each monochrome shot.
The image quality delivered by the Mini 90 isn’t any better than you’ll get with other Fujifilm cameras that use the same lens—the Mini 9 and Mini 70. But the Mini 90 does give you more creative control than other models. You can choose to turn the flash
But remember there are other instant film formats out there. We have a guide that covers all of your options. But for quick reference, Fujifilm makes
The Wide film format is twice the size as the Mini, 3.6 by 2.4 inches. With
The other option is Polaroid Originals film, which can be bought for classic and modern Polaroid cameras. It has a couple of I-Type models, the OneStep 2 and OneStep+, both of which use a 3.1-inch square format, noticeably larger than the 2.4-inch Instax Square format.
The Stylish Instax
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic earns its moniker, as it is easily the prettiest Instax camera sold today. Its design is retro, without being tacky, and should remain in style for years to come. As for imaging, you get more control over your photos than with other Fujifilm models, which is a big plus for serious photographers.
But those same shutterbugs who love the Mini 90’s look and the ability to suppress the flash and lock in exposure compensation may be turned off by the rather small film format. It’s one of the reasons we recommend the Lomo’Instant Wide, which uses the larger Instax Wide format,
If you don’t mind spending a bit of extra money, the Mini 90 is certainly a more capable camera than the entry-level Mini 9. It’s just that, even with the street price dropping to well below the $179.95 list, you’ll still spend about twice as much on the 90 as on the 9. Price is a big reason why the Mini 9 is the instant camera we recommend for most casual snapshooters.
Don’t count the Mini 90 out if you want to take control over your images and you are happy with the Mini film format, as it’s a solid option. We also like the Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass, which sells for a bit more but includes a brighter, wide-angle glass lens for sharper photos.