Fujifilm's instax instant cameras are great, but you would have only the instax prints as memories.
Many wish to store these candid moments digitally as well. Fujifilm has heard you and launched the new Instax Square SQ10.
The SQ10, which looks like just another instax camera with its square appearance, is actually a digital camera with a built-in instax printer.
You can save your photos in the camera's internal memory (up to 50 photos) or on a microSD card. You can also choose to print a photo immediately or print later.
The SQ10 uses the new instax Square format (1:1) prints. Flip open the rear compartment to load a pack of 10 instax Square prints ($16.90 per pack). At the rear, you will also find a 3-inch LCD screen that works as a viewfinder.
Below the LCD screen, there is a circle of six control buttons that encircle a command dial and a main Menu/OK button. The top three control buttons let you change filters, exposure and vignetting. The bottom three buttons are for playback, print and back functions.
The command dial not only allows you to change settings easily, but it also provides an intuitive way for you to edit and process the photos.
In front, a large metallic circular dial encircles the centrally positioned lens. Turning this dial clockwise powers up the camera.
Above this dial, there are two buttons where your index fingers will rest when you hold the SQ10. By default, both buttons function as the shutter release.
IMAGE SENSOR: 1/4-inch CMOS
LENS: 28.5mm f/2.4
DISPLAY: 3-inch LCD with 460,000 dots
SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 1,600
WEIGHT: 450g (including film pack and battery)
BATTERY LIFE: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
But you can customise one of the buttons for toggling through the three shooting modes, namely Standard, Bulb and Double Exposure.
Standard is the auto mode. The Bulb mode lets you capture long exposure shots of up to 10sec, while the Double Exposure mode allows you to overlay one frame over another in a single photo.
On the left is a switch that lets you toggle between Manual and Auto. If the Auto mode is turned on, the SQ10 will immediately print out the photo you have taken. But, on Manual mode, the photo you have taken will not be printed immediately.
I would recommend putting the SQ10 in Manual mode permanently, as it gives you much more flexibility. You can apply filters and change the amount of vignetting before you print out the photo.
Operation-wise, this is not a fast camera. It takes 2.6sec to power up, and 1.6sec to shut down. Autofocusing can take up to 2sec even in bright sunlight. The camera's metering system tends to overexpose by as much as one stop.
The images captured have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,920 pixels. Thus, you do not get much detailand photos can be quite grainy in low-light conditions.
But image quality is generally good for social media, like Instagram, and for instax prints.
After you select a photo and press OK to print, the picture will "move" up from the LCD as its instax print slowly emerges from the top of the camera. It takes 13.2sec for the printing process to finish after you press print. A fully charged battery is good for 160 prints, provided no pictures are taken. During the review, I shot around 360 images mixed with nine prints before the battery went flat.
The instax print quality is typical of such instant photos. While it is better than Zinke prints, the colours of the instax prints look slightly off from how they look on the LCD screen.
In addition, there is no way to transfer the photos to your smartphone via Bluetooth or vice versa.
But you can transfer photos taken by the SQ10 to your computer using the microSD card. You can also transfer photos taken with other cameras into the SQ10 via a microSD card, to print them as instax Square prints. It is a bit of a hassle, but it can be done.
•Verdict: For parties and travelling, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 is a great ice-breaker and fun camera to take along.