Lomography Lomo’Instant Square Camera Review
May 8, 2018
Instant photography is riding high enough that there aren’t only new instant cameras hitting the street, but new instant film as well. Fujifilm’s new Instax Square film features an aspect ratio of 1:1, in contrast to the Instax Mini’s more rectangular dimensions. The first camera announced for the format was Fujifilm’s own SQ10, which combined a digital sensor alongside support for Instax Square film.
Lomography’s Lomo’Instant Square is the second camera (though the first all-analogue model) to support the new square film. We put on our Huey Lewis sunglasses to discover whether it’s truly hip to shoot square.
The Lomo’Instant Square features an auto exposure mode plus the ability to take an unlimited number of multiple exposures on a single frame and a 30-second shutter for long exposures, light painting, etc.
In auto mode, the Square’s shutter speed can range between 8 and 1/250 sec. There’s a self-timer and remote shutter release, plus a tiny glass mirror on the front to frame a selfie.
The 95mm glass lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 45mm and two aperture settings: f/10 and f/22.
You can adjust exposure compensation up or down a stop if you need to lighten/darken your composition. The Square also offers a built-in flash, though it’s not all that powerful.
While it accepts the new Instax Square instant film, you can buy an accessory back that lets you shoot with the Instax Mini format instead, if you so desire.
Select Lomo’Instant Square packages include additional lenses, flash gel filters plus paper frames, magnet stickers and glue dots for displaying your instant prints—great extras.
The Square has a fairly unconventional design. You turn it on by pulling the lens bellows forward, making the camera look like a miniature version of those vintage folding cameras. The pullout design does help keep the camera more compact when not in use, though even with the bellows collapsed, the Square is still a fairly big block of a camera. Its plastic build ensures that the camera isn’t very heavy, but it is a little unwieldy.
The bigger issue we had with the pull-out lens is that the focus lever would invariably shift from infinity (where we typically wanted it) to the middle setting of 1-2.5m whenever we opened the camera. We had to force ourselves to remember to reset it, but not before burning through a few out-of-focus exposures.
As big as the Square is, the buttons on the back are fairly small and fall roughly where your hand is placed. There is an LED film counter, but it’s on the side of the camera, not the back, so you have to turn the camera to see it.
Image Quality & Performance
Personally, we love the square format Instax vs. the Mini. The square aspect ratio feels more natural when composing and also viewing the images. You’ll see the first outline of your image after about 25 seconds, with the full exposure coming into view in about a minute or so.
The print quality is contrasty and soft, just as you’d expect. Instax Square is an ISO 800 film with a fine grain and will do well when there’s plenty of light. Even in broad daylight however, the flash isn’t powerful enough to pull out details from shadows—even shadows that are just three feet away. Colors, particularly blues, looked beautiful and skin tones were quite pleasing.
Framing and composing through the tiny viewfinder will take some getting used to, however. The viewfinder isn’t through-the-lens and it’s off center, so it took us a few tries (and a few wasted snapshots) before getting a feel for it. The design imposes a slightly harder-than-necessary learning curve on the whole shooting experience.
If you’re excited about Fujifilm’s new square film format and aren’t necessarily sold on the SQ10’s hybrid digital/analog approach, the Lomo’Instant Square is really the only game in town, at least for now. We liked the Instant Square’s feature set and price and are big fans of the Instax Square film. We’re less sold on the overall design of the camera—if it were possible to fit the Instax Square film into a body shape (if not size) similar to Lomography’s Instant Automat, it would be a grand slam.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Square
PROS: Polaroid-style Instax Square film; unlimited multiple exposures; adaptable for Instax Mini film; ships with magnets/glue dots to display prints.
CONS: Weak flash; cumbersome design; can be tricky to compose through viewfinder.
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