The Instax Mini 8 is a highly popular compact instant film camera from Fujifilm. A great choice for both beginner and enthusiast photographer, the Instax Mini 8 is an easy to use instant film camera that shoots great quality pictures in a small, durable package.
- Fun design and range of color options
- Easy to use for any age
- Affordable price
- Mixed exposure results
- Limited shooting range
- Kids photography
Key Features of the Instax Mini 8
- Built-in Lens Cover
- Auto Flash/Focus Free
- Brightness Adjustment Dial
- Automatic power off after 5 minutes
The Instax Mini 8 is quirky little instant film camera that can fit comfortably into a backpack or large coat pocket.
The design of the camera is certainly a conversation starter, featuring a futuristic body design and available in a selection of lively colors – it will look great whilst taking equally great shots.
On the front is a button to turn on the camera and extend the collapsible lens. Surrounding the lens is the exposure adjustment dial that you twist to choose the appropriate exposure level based on your shot.
Perfectly placed on the top of the hand grip is the shutter button, right below the viewfinder and the high-performance flash.
The back of the camera is kept very simple with compartments for the film packs and the batteries, viewfinder at the top, and a small exposure counter so you can see how many frames you have left.
The layout is really easy to get the hang of and suits any level of photographer.
Previous users of the Instax range of cameras will feel right at home.
The only odd choice by Fujifilm is the decision to place the viewfinder on the top right corner of the camera, which is the exact opposite most other cameras on the market. This is a small caveat, but one that takes a little getting used to if you are like me and have muscle memory that leads you to place your eye on the left side of the camera. It makes sense when you rotate the camera 90 degrees counterclockwise into landscape mode – the viewfinder moves into the normal location.
In my experience however, more often than not you will shoot portraits with this camera, as using it in landscape mode can get awkward with the shutter placement and potential for covering the flash and viewfinder depending on your grip.
If flashy colors are your thing the Instax Mini 8 comes in a variety of great hues.
The matte plastic finish, chunky lens and big buttons do have a toy-like look.
If you are worried about this then we recommend going with the black or white versions. The black particularly looks quite professional and understated. Some other users have commented that their colors have faded when left exposed to the sun for extended periods. This is probably standard for an all plastic affair, and easily avoidable if you take care.
The matte plastic construction otherwise feels very solid and durable. I have accidentally dropped this camera several times on hard surfaces, and whilst the film compartment popped open, nothing broke off and the only damage was some minor marks – the camera still looked great and functioned perfectly.
The Instax Mini 8 has a 60mm standard portrait lens with a fixed focus range of 0.6m to infinity.
The Fujinon lens is quite sharp as usual and produces great shots, it won’t however do close ups with a minimum focus distance of 0.6m. Luckily there are some great macro lens add-ons that allow for this which we go into later.
The focal length of the lens is close to a standard 50mm portrait focal length. It’s just wide enough to easily frame a group of people in a tight space without any distortion.
There’s five different exposure levels to choose from, and the camera will automatically highlight the best one for your shot.
However for those of you who want to get more creative control over your photos, each one has a corresponding f-stop. They are: Indoors & Night (F12.7), Cloudy & Shade (F16), Sunny & Slightly cloudy (F22), Sunny & Bright (F32). There’s also a new High Key mode that deliberately overexposes your shot, which results in a softer atmosphere.
The camera’s built-in metering system shows you it’s suggested setting via the LED light on the lens dial.
By turning the lens dial to the appropriate icon, you can set the aperture to the recommended setting, or choose your own if you are aiming for a particular look.
Because of the wide maximum aperture, there is no autofocus as everything within the focus range will be sharp to some degree. One thing to be aware of is the maximum flash range of 0.6m to 2.7m, so you need to get up close to most of your subjects in low-light. The flash has a recycle time of 0.2-6 seconds and there is a fixed shutter speed of 1/60 seconds. The flash fires on every mode and shot so it’s important to be aware of the recharge time – you won’t be firing off 10 frames per second with this camera!
Here at Instant Photo Pro, we have had great success creating a mini softbox for our Instax Mini 8 flash by taping over it with slightly opaque white tape. You will need to experiment with types of tape and exactly how much you use. Our best results have come from using thin masking tape which diffuses the light and even adds a bit of extra warmth to the photos. You may need to pick the next brightest exposure setting to compensate if you try this yourself. We think it’s worth a shot though as it has produced prints with a lot less glaring contrast – almost the opposite of the high key mode.
Ease of Use
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8’s operation is one of the easiest out there, it’s certainly a major contributor to the popularity of the camera.
To use the camera, simply press the switch next to the lens, which will extend the lens and turn the camera on. Once the lens is out, begin to frame your shot and the camera will suggest an exposure setting. You can then adjust the exposure dial around the lens as desired and take the photo.
To turn the camera off again, just push the lens back into the camera body. Super easy!
Whilst mostly a great feature allowing creative flexibility, the exposure selection dial can be a negative at times. It’s not a hard feature to get used to, but it does adds an extra unnecessary step in what could be a fully automatic affair.
A camera like the Instax Mini 8 should be immediately usable for anybody picking it up for the first time. Adding the selection dial might confuse wedding or party guests with no photography knowledge who just want to get a quick snap off. I think an option for full auto mode is really missed here.
Close and mid-range shots are optimal for this camera due to it’s reliance on the flash. Long-distance and landscape shots can really only be taken during perfect weather conditions. During cloudy weather the pictures will turn out too dark where the flash can’t reach and during bright sunlight, the picture will be overexposed. With practice, you can get it right, but it’s not exactly designed for landscapes.
Luckily it excels at portrait, street, event and party photography which is where these instant film cameras really get most of their use.
The lack of autofocus can take a bit of practice for those of us who are so used to the little green box on your digital point-and-shoot. However when you get it right, the images are impressively detailed and produce the soft colour effect people love from instant film cameras.
Fujifilm have created the perfect mix of features, simplicity and value in the Instax Mini 8.
This camera will rightfully claim its place as one of the best entry-level instant film cameras available. If you’ve thought about giving instant film a go, for it’s bargain price the Mini 8 gives you no excuses to go and find out for yourself.
It has its some small limitations, but nothing that can’t be worked around.
It runs on disposable AA batteries and the film packs can add up if you are a beginner and need to factor in how many photos you are likely to mess up whilst learning. But in the long run, if you can accept the ongoing cost of getting started with instant film cameras, the rewards are more than worth it.
The idea of having actually captured a unique moment never to be replicated. A moment that is not all about taking 10 different angles and uploading them all Facebook, the Instax Mini 8 camera is a cool, fun, retro-styled camera that you will love. It can also make a fun, simple way to introduce kids to photography.
Fujfilm have just released a new version of this camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 with a built-in selfie mirror and included close-up lens. This is now recommended over the Mini 8 and you can read more in our Instax Mini 9 review.
If you buy the film off of Amazon in bulk packs you’ll get a great deal for those of you worried about the cost of running the camera. The film packs last longer than you think so buying extra’s isn’t a problem. Trust me, once you get addicted to shooting with the Instax range, you will need those extra packs lying around anyway.
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera
- 2 Aa Batteries
- Wrist Strap
- Limited 1-Year Warranty
- Fujinon 60mm f/12.7 Lens
- Optical 0.37x Real Image Viewfinder
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 5 x 3 inches (116mm x 118.3mm x 68.2mm)
- Two AA-size 1.5V alkaline batteries
- Weight 10.8oz (307g) without batteries, strap and film pack
Macro close up lens.
The close up lens is a lens attachment that allows you to take pictures at closer distances. It is easily my most used Instax Mini 8 accessory. The lens simply snaps in place on top of the actual lens barrel, and snaps off when you’re done. Make sure you hear it click in so you know it’s properly attached. You can now take amazing macro shots with our camera. This attachment is also known as the selfie lens as it comes with a small selfie mirror, and takes pictures from a much more comfortable selfie distance.
There are several manufacturers/brands of macro close up lens (aka selfie mirrors) for the mini 8, I was wondering if you have tested any of them out and have a personal preference or recommendation for which one is the best one to use?
Thanks for the wonderful review!
Simon Gray says
Hi Jeremy, I bought a generic “selfie mirror” off eBay and it worked great. They all look to be of similar design and quality so just pick one that suits you best and give it a go!