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The Fuji Instax Mini 70 currently serves as the ‘midrange’ camera in the world of Fuji Instax Mini, slotted right in between the Instax Mini 8/9 and the the premium Mini 90 Neo. It has the same lens as the 90, but the more limited controls of the Mini 8 or 9.
The price and availability of the Fuji Instax Mini 70 varies considerably, but typically falls right between the 9 and 90. I picked up mine as part of a combo pack at Costco at a significant discount over the prices I’ve seen for it at other retailers.
I was crossing my fingers that this camera would bring the best of the top and low-range Fuji Instax cameras into a perfect package, but unfortunately the lack of exposure compensation controls ends up dooming the effort. The Fuji 70 is a capable camera, but I’m not really sure who its for.
Controls and Usability
With the Instax 70, Fuji continues the tradition of not standardizing their controls across anything. Even though this camera has nearly the same proportions as the Fuji Instax 90, it has its own control setup.
Unlike the 90, there is only one shutter, but this isn’t a big issue. What’s more of an issue is a lack of any exposure compensation controls. There’s a closeup dial, and ‘hi-key’ mode which makes everything brighter, but no easy way to make everything slightly brighter or darker as needed.
One innovation that I’m seeing for the first time on this camera is replacing the classic ‘macro’ icon of a flower with a ‘selfie mode’ button. Just like the macro button on the Fuji 90, the macro/selfie mode simply allows the camera to focus between .3-.6 meters.
While I think this button is usually used for selfies, it may confuse people who simply want to do a normal macro shot. Either way, if you want to take a picture of something close to the lens, regardless of it is your face or not, use this button.
Overall, if you turn on the camera it’ll take care of the rest. It’s easier to use than the Fuji 8 or 9, which often requires manually switching exposure modes. However, if you need to adjust the settings, the camera doesn’t make it terribly easy or even possible in some cases.
The lens is the biggest upgrade in this camera over the Fuji Instax 8 or 9. For most purposes it’s the same, but the 70 adds the ability to switch to macro mode with a button press.
To do the same, the Fuji 8 or 9 require the use of a snap-on lens adapter that is easily lost. The Fuji 70 is much more elegant in this regard, and if selfies or other close-up shots are going to be your primary subject, it’s worth upgrading to the 70.
Just like the Instax 9, Fuji added a tiny mirror on the front of the camera to help facilitate selfies. It works as advertised, although it’s honestly not terribly hard to just use your reflection in the lens itself. Also, keep in mind that Fuji Instax Mini images are so small that it can be hard to get more than one person in frame.
As I mentioned earlier, the Fuji Instax Mini 70 has no exposure compensation, which is a huge disadvantage. I wasn’t surprised that the cheaper Mini 8 or 9 lacks this option, but I was really hoping for this in the 70.
During shooting, I got frustrated enough with my subject’s face being blown out that I had to change cameras to stop wasting film. Fuji Instax film is prone to high contrast images that can easily over or under-expose, so exposure compensation is a lifesaver. Fuji’s monochrome format only exacerbates this further with even higher contrast and no room for error.
Like all Fuji Instax cameras, the Fuji Instax Mini 70 has a built-in flash that will almost always fire. It’s best to let it do its thing, especially indoors, as there is rarely enough light to properly exposure. Be prepared for a quick falloff, however, and dark backgrounds.
For some bizarre reason, this camera uses completely non-standard batteries. Unlike any other Fuji Instax camera I’ve ever used (and I’ve used many), the 70 uses two CR2 batteries.
This is utterly insane. AA or even AAA would be infinitely better. CR2 batteries mean one will have to custom order batteries just for this thing, as I doubt anybody has a few spare CR2s lying around. That means that once the batteries that come with the camera die, many people are just not going to use the camera anymore since they don’t have the replacement batteries easily on hand.
This is by far the most baffling choice made with this camera. I know I complained about the rechargable battery in the Instax Mini 90, but that is still a far better option than non-standard disposable batteries.
The Instax 70 has a very similar body and shape as the Instax 90, but it is nowhere as sleek or attractive. The design itself is sort of ugly, and many of the colors are sort of strange.
The camera feels sort of cheap, but it’s smaller than the Instax 8 or 9, so that’s a plus.
I keep harping on Fuji for not having any sort of design coherence across their line, but Polaroid made a mess of its thousands of camera variants over the years too. Maybe that’s just part of the instant film experience.
The Fuji 70 is a decent camera marred by some strange design choices. It works just fine in most cases, and is a decent upgrade from the Fuji 8 or 9, but I’m not sure it earns its price tag. It’s also not the smooth, pleasant experience of the excellent Neo 90.
So the Fuji Instax Mini Neo 90 is still by far my top choice. The nicer handling, extra shutter button, and (I never thought I’d say this) rechargeable battery are all far superior than the 70.
If selfies are your primary thing, the 70 is definitely better than the Instax 9. However, if you’re not worried about selfies, the Instax 8 or 9 is a far better value for the money. If money is not a concern, just the ability to adjust exposure gives the Mini 90 makes it a far superior camera.
With a few adjustments, the Fuji Instax 70 could be a great camera, but we’re going to have to wait for the next generation for a low-cost holy grail of the Instax Mini format.
Looking to pick up your first Instax camera? Check out my guide to the world of Fuji Instax film.
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