By Anuj Bhatia
I have a problem with social media because of the constant pressure to share photos. I do take pictures but I do not want to share them with the world and rather prefer keeping them to myself. When I started using Fujifilm’s new Instax Square SQ1, it made me explore the idea of capturing fun moments on film—without the constant pressure to please someone on social media.
The Instax Square SQ1 looks like a toy camera. The camera is made from plastic with a soft matte-like texture, edges are rounded off and the wrist strap makes it easy to hold. The camera is a bit bulky, and that’s because of a full pack of film that needs to be loaded on the back. Films are loaded via a door in the rear. The process of loading a pack of film is simple. The camera uses two CR2 batteries that you have to load on the back of the camera. They seem long-lasting, though the batteries don’t come cheap. Since this is a real camera, there is an optical viewfinder that lets you look through the frame and focus your shot before taking a picture.
There is no steep learning curve to operate the SQ1; even a 70-year-old person can comfortably take pictures using this instant film camera without referring to a manual. Simply spin a ring on the retractable lens to turn “on” the camera or spin it further to take a selfie. Yes, there is a dedicated selfie mode. There’s even a small mirror next to the lens to help frame your shot. The selfie mode can also be used to take close-ups. Turn the camera on, look through the viewfinder and press the shutter button located on the front grip of the camera.
The camera uses the same Instax Square film as the Instax Square SQ6 introduced in 2018. A pack of Instax Square film (2.4 by 2.4 inches) includes ten frames, though they are smaller than the classic Polaroid film. For Rs 699, you get a pack of Instax Square film, which isn’t cheap by any means. Mind you, the SQ1 is not the camera you would want to use every day. My iPhone 12 is still my primary camera and the SQ1 isn’t going to replace it.
See, instant cameras are different from digital cameras or modern-day smartphones. The photos aren’t as sharp as regular prints, nor do they get similar highlights and shadows. But each print tells a story. Nostalgia is what drives
people to pick up an instant film camera in the first place. That said, instant film cameras aren’t technically powerful. The SQ1, for instance, lacks a lot of features like zoom, self-timer, double exposures, and even a display. I think the SQ1 is made to be used outdoors and not indoors. It does have a built-in flash, but I feel it’s too harsh for photos taken indoors. The problem is there is no way to turn off the flash, which is really annoying.
What’s not good?
I have had a problem gripping the camera. That’s because the shutter is located on the grip and not on the top, there’s always a chance of you accidentally pressing the button. Due to this odd placement of the shutter button, I ended up wasting a lot of prints unnecessarily.
Should you buy it?
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 is easy to use and produces likable instant photographs in seconds.
Estimated street price: Rs 9,999