You can purchase the Fuji Instax Mini 11 on Amazon.
At long, long last, Fuji has managed to create an entry-level camera that matches classic Polaroid in simplicity. Over the years, Fuji has experimented with all kinds of exotic, strange, and counter-intuitive control schemes, but no more. The Fuji Instax Mini 11 is ultra-simple and gives great results. It’s a massive improvement over the Mini 8 and 9 (confusingly, there’s no 10) in all the ways that matter.
If you’re looking for a painless entry-level camera for instant film photography, you can’t do better than the Instax Mini 11. It’s also perfect for events like weddings and parties – it’s easy enough many guests will be able to figure out how to use it just by picking it up.
The Instax Mini 11 is easy to use. Depress the button next to the lens and it’ll push the lens open along with it. Point the camera at the subject. Press the shutter button and the picture comes out. That’s it. Push it closed to turn it off.
The only other choice you can make is whether or not to use the selfie mode, activated by pulling the front of the lens forward. There’s no other controls. Everything is taken care of for you, which is exactly how a camera like this is supposed to work. This seems like a no-brainer, but it has taken Fuji years to get to this point. The Fuji 8 and 9 both required more hand holding and know-how to get great results.
There’s no way to turn the flash off, but you’ll want to keep it on even outdoors. The Mini 11 is missing some of the weird modes from the 8 and 9 like ‘high key’ but they are not missed. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and those modes never brought much to the table.
The viewfinder is teeny-tiny, but it’s acceptable. It’s about on par with the absolute cheapest Polaroid cameras. There are no readouts or indicators beyond a frame counter and an orange LED on the front. There is also no tripod mount screw in the bottom of the camera, so if that’s important you’ll need a more advanced camera like the Mini 90. It makes sense why there’s not one – the camera has no timer mode or remote trigger that would utilize a tripod properly.
Overall, I’ve been pleased with the exposure quality of this camera. The flash is definitely necessary, and expect even well lit backgrounds to appear much darker than the subject.
I’ll get it into more below, but the ‘selfie’ mode really works. It’s really a macro close-focus mode, but most people will be using it for arm-length selfies, which look great.
As always, the biggest limitation with any Fuji Instax Mini camera is the size of the frame. Instax Minis are ‘wallet sized’ and too small to get great scans from. However, Fuji Instax film holds up great and turns in decent, if sometimes cool (blueish) and bland, results. It’s more than fine for something to stick on your fridge.
The previous Instax Mini 9 had a clunky attachment that you had to stick on the front of the camera to focus close enough for an arm’s-length selfie shot. The problem with the attachment was that it was easy to lose and didn’t work amazingly well. One of the biggest upgrades in the Mini 11 is that the macro/selfie focus mode is built right into the camera. Simply pull on the front of the lens barrel and it pops out, engaging selfie mode.
It really works, and the selfie shots I’ve taken all look much sharper and clearer than what I’ve gotten in the past. However, ‘selfie mode’ isn’t just useful for selfies, it’s good for all macro situations where you need to focus on something within a few feet. I have a small dog, and to fill the whole frame with her I have to get pretty close. Using the selfie mode, I was able to get some great results.
Turning selfie mode off is easy – just push the lens barrel back in.
The Instax Mini 11 is a lumpy wad of plastic that feels sort of cheap and scratches relatively easy. All the important bits feel tough enough and well protected, so I wouldn’t hesitate to throw it into a bag. Honestly, it feels more like a well-made toy than a piece of professional camera gear, but that’s totally fine. Fuji Instax Mini is best for more fun applications rather than serious photographic work – that’s what the larger formats are for.
I do really like how there are no hard edges in this design. It’s sort of fun, and it looks even better with the fun color options. The lens is covered when off. The only thing you might want to watch out for is the film latch getting caught and opening the back.
Battery and Power
Mercifully, thankfully, the Instax Mini 11 is powered by AA batteries instead of proprietary lithium packs or harder-to-find CR2s like nearly every other Fuji Instax camera out there. The great thing about AAs is that you can find them quickly, you can use rechargeable lithium AAs if you’re planning on using the camera often. AA batteries are just the most flexible and best way to power a camera like this.
Also, battery acid is a big issue with long term storage. Since AAs are easy to find, you can store the camera without any batteries, confident you’ll be able to find them when you need them. I often leave lithium packs and CR2s in cameras because there is no way I’m going to be able to locate them easily when I dig the camera out of a drawer or closet.
If you’re looking for a low-cost, entry-level instant film camera, this is the one to get. If you’re buying cameras for an event for your guests to use, this is the best low-cost Fuji Instax camera you can buy. The Instax SQ1 is also a great event camera as well and produces slightly larger images in the square format, but it is also way more expensive. If price is no concern, the SQ1 is the way to go, but unless you really want the square format, save your money and get the Mini 11.
Technically, the Mini 11 isn’t a massive upgrade over the 8 and 9 in terms of image quality. It does, however, have far superior ergonomics. The 8 and 9 both require you to pay attention to a little light indicator to select exposure, while the 11 just takes care of it. Also, the 9 only does macro/selfies using an easily lost attachment, while that option is built into the 11. Even if I saw the 8 or 9 on sale, I’d still pay more for the 11. If you already have the 8 or 9 and are happy with it, I don’t think you need to worry about upgrading. If anything, the more advanced Mini 90 would be a better upgrade path (or better yet, stepping up to Instax Square, Instax Wide, or Polaroid formats).
For artists and more serious photographers, I still recommend a larger format, as the tiny Instax frame isn’t great for scanning. Personally, I love Polaroid, which uses a much larger frame than all Instax formats except Instax Wide and makes for more detailed images. However, the Fuji Instax Mini 11 has the market on entry-level fun-to-use instant film cameras totally cornered. It makes the perfect gift and is a great camera for events and parties.
You can purchase the Fuji Instax Mini 11 on Amazon. Using these affiliate links helps me keep the site online without annoying ads. Thanks and happy shooting!
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