While many thought the instant camera trend would be long gone by now, steadily growing sales of instant cameras and photo paper suggest this trend is here to stay, for now. Back in 2015, Fujifilm sold over 5 million units of the Instax instant camera, and its mark continues to grow well as the Instagram generation calls for new and improved instant cameras with high-tech features. At the forefront of the instant camera market, Fujifilm continues to offer photography lovers new ways to share their snaps and the latest edition to the range is no doubt their best effort yet. Combining the most loved features of earlier Instax Mini instant cameras with the super popular Instax Share smartphone printer, the new Instax Mini LiPlay is an instant camera hybrid that can’t be ignored.
Combining the features of an analogue instant film camera with digital camera convenience in the smallest package possible, the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay offers hours of entertainment for snap-happy amateur photographers. While many instant cameras require you to shoot and print every time you press the shutter release, resulting in a massive waste of expensive photo paper, the LiPlay puts the power back in your hands with its digital camera capabilities.
The device features a small LCD on the back to enable you to not only frame your shots but also to edit them before deciding to print. Images are stored using internal memory or an optional microSD card so you can snap away and later browse through your photographs to customise them using one of the camera’s six colour filters or 30 frame options before you print. The camera spits out adorable mini 2.1 x 3.4-inch Polaroid-style snaps which are ideal for scrapbooking, decorating your fridge, or displaying on a pinboard on your desk.
If you’re looking for a litter more shooting power than the LiPlay’s on-board 1/5-inch digital image sensor then you can switch to shooting on your smartphone before connecting to the LiPlay via Bluetooth to print your smartphone photographs. The LiPlay connects to your smartphone using the LiPlay mobile app, which gives users, even more, features to explore. Use the app to remotely control the camera, (making selfies and group shots a bit easier) or to print directly from your smartphone.
While I loved the ‘candid’ effect of shooting and printing with the LiPlay I did find I preferred to shoot with my smartphone as it resulted in higher quality photographs, especially when snapping portrait-style shots. If you’re considering investing in a smartphone printer I would highly recommend adding a little extra to your budget to spring for the LiPlay as it gives you a lot more features than a simple smartphone printer would.
Perhaps the best thing about the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay is it helped to solve one of my biggest gripes with instant cameras — the inevitable bun fight of who gets to keep the good photo. I used the LiPlay at a friend’s bachelorette party and loved that it was easy to print off multiple copies of the same photo to share with the bride and friends at the party. That’s not something you can do with a typical instant camera.
Taking its digital features a step further, Fujifilm has also added a mic button to the front of the camera. Press it to record up to 10 seconds of audio that gets converted to a QR code and printed in the corner of the picture. Scan it with your phone and you’ll hear the clip. This feature didn’t really appeal to me and isn’t something I would use on a regular basis but I can see how it would be a big hit with teens who love a good ‘gimmick’.
For the average person on the cusp of deciding whether an instant camera is for them, the LiPlay is probably the instant camera that will encourage them to finally make the purchase. While it’s on the pricier side of the instant camera market, with all its features the device makes the most financial sense when buying an instant camera or smartphone printer.
Available in 3 colours (black with rose gold accents, silver, and rose gold) the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay is available online from Superbalist at R2,699.