Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wonder, over, under / Fuji Instax 210

Fuji Instax 210 with relic 35mm Fuji, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Today I write about the remarkable Fuji Instax 210 and the Hipstamatic Dali app addition. This entry has been edited (1.11.2013) to feature the Instax 210 content at the beginning.

Instax 210 review

The cosmos smiled today much like the last time I got new gear. It was gorgeous and a Fuji Instax 210 arrived this afternoon. I’d heard of the Fuji and Unique Photo on the Film Photography Podcast. It was love at first snap. The 210 is a ridiculously oversized modern classic. It is only slightly smaller than my 320, but fashioned like the ‘black jelly bean’ point-and-shoot 35mm cameras from the 1990’s that your grandma still uses. I absolutely love it.

It was $65. Every shot turned out. It’s light, but not too light, and feels great in your hand. The shutter feels plasticky (it is) and there’s somewhat of a delay. It’s kind of a soft push and is reminiscent of the Hipstamatic iphone application in that ‘letting go’ is the shutter actuation. But not exactly. The lens appears to be plastic, but the images are much better than my Polaroid 320. This is noteworthy, because that camera shoots with modern Fuji film (FP-100c), so I think this demonstrates the difference is the camera. The film has a great aspect ratio and no-peel ’wait for it’ developing. Over half of my peel film shots failed mechanically in the 320.

2010: Instax 210, 1977: Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 2, 1969: Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 320.
2010: Instax 210, 1977: Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1Model 2, 1969: Polaroid Land Camera 320., Andrew D. Barron ©1/20/11
I have a legendary Polaroid SX-70, but I haven’t been interested in the Impossible Project’s film yet. The IP’s film is $22+shipping for 8 shots that may turn out. That’s about $3 a shot. I’m new to instant film so I looked elsewhere for experimenting. I’m on a budget (~$0) and taking pictures that don’t turn out isn’t that fun.
Wasted FP-3000B and FP100C in a Polaroid 320, Andrew D. Barron ©1/20/11
There is about ONE modern choice for larger sized instant film. The Fuji Instax 210.
Fuji Instax 210 above Devil’s Backbone, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Fuji Instax 210 above Devil’s Backbone, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
There may be photoshoots more fun in the future, but today was the best I can remember. I had previsualized a few shot locations, some of which I tried with the 320, but mechanical trouble made things unsatisfying. I had four cameras at the ready and lots of different ideas.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

Forty five minutes of shooting produced a number of impressive opportunities in the incredible light. The Fuji was great. The Nikon, Sony and Hipstamatic were also spot on. Here’s an idea: to shoot a digital of an instant shot to record time and date; also provides a nice placeholder image until I scan:
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
One must use the few buttons on the Instax 210. On power down, it defaults to 0.9-3m focus. I shoot mostly past this range and forgot to reset focus twice. The viewfinder is off a good deal. So far, I’ve only confirmed the bottom margin; I cut about 10% off the a shot that I was using that lower 10% for the story. I got a different picture:
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
I just read about Ansel Adams’ “The Black Sun” image, and was pleased that the Instax shares an ‘overexposed to black’ thing when shooting at the sun. It was unexpected.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
The effect is great. It is called a solarization, and in Examples, Mr. Adams indicates that thick emulsion-films capable of it were a dying breed. (p.126). This blog discusses The Black Sun.

The three settings for exposure are as helpful as 3 settings can be. In my limited trials with instant film, darker exposures appear to have more detail and finer grain. The film colors themselves are nice and lean towards green. Is this a fuji film bias? I remember something like that in the 35mm days.

There is no doubt that instant film is expensive. There is little doubt how much fun it is, too. People shoot shoot shoot (me too) with digital cameras and I wonder what do they have? A mess of disorganized computer files? The Instax 210 is great for having pictures about. The film comes in twin packs containing 20 shots total, a nice move on Fuji’s part. The per shot cost is about 82¢ if you include shipping. I had to stop myself today, because I blew through 19 shots in 45 minutes. $15, ka-ching! This camera will raise some eyebrows and start conversations. I look forward to those! This is unsponsored, spontaneous review of a camera I was a dubious about. I’ve heard this thing is kind of fragile, so I better careful. And order more film!

By the way, there are folks who succeed at placing Instax Wide film into an SX-70. See polapix’s instructions here. Another user followed up here.

End of Instax 210 review

What was originally kind of a day-in-the-life blog was simply too broken up for most readers who are interested in only the Fujifilm Instax 210. Below, I splice into the beginning of the day and finish out with sunset.

Synthetic corp closed out an unusual Hipstamatic lens/film pack inspired by Salvador Dali. It was one I could live without until xolager noted it would not be available. It’s fun and weird; here’s the lens at work.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Proceeds from the 99¢ app addition (goodpak/hipstapak/goofy trendy name) go directly to the Dali Museum in Florida. I often think of David Byrne’s one liner from True Stories, "Things that never had names before are now easily described... makes conversation easy." If I understand Mr. Byrne’s sense of humor, I think he meant the opposite. Great movie.

The app is slow. Shooting with instant film is slow. Chimping is a term people are using to describe the act of dinking around with digital cameras while shooting. I once described it before I knew the term. It is hard to chimp with the hipstamatic on the 3G. If you set up for a shot by choosing lens and film and stick around to be sure you got the shot, you’re in it for about 3 minutes. To reiterate, these are simulated films and lenses. Anyway the time is equivalent to shooting with instant film (1,2). There’s nothing wrong with reviewing your shot, especially if you’re trying new things. Heck, as long as you’re shooting, everything’s perfect.
Greggs Creek, Curry County, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
I seem to like messy compositions. Making sense of geologic puzzles helps with seeing chaos as simple or unknowable. The geologist is often asked to say something confident and convincing. My notion is that though there may be answers for anything, the answers are founded in today’s knowledge. Tomorrow’s knowledge will be different. So it’s important to me to refine my curiosity towards wonder and admiration rather than classification and description.
Mr. Spruce, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
I’m sure I will grow weary of poverty before I grow weary of this beach.Ophir beach, Curry County, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
But what a silly sentiment; who enjoys poverty or grows weary of a beach?
Ophir beach, Curry County, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
After pouring rain most of yesterday, today is beautiful. With coffee and some sun, this blog will grow from here. 12:35pm.

Later. Holly.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
I live in a unique place and it is very beautiful.
Upstream, Euchre Creek, Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
The remoteness and near total lack of economy has kept it this way since Americans first arrived, and probably before. There are relics of early settlement. I find these places to be magical.
The Old, Old House, Euchre Creek, Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Life is tough nowadays? Though things have changed in all kinds of ways, the rain and the biota do their work quickly on the remnants of man’s industry.
The Old, Old House, Euchre Creek, Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

Euchre Creek, swollen, races to the sea. I was soon to follow.
Euchre Creek, swollen, races to the sea. Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

Here’s a Hipstamatic shot with ‘Alfred infared film’. In PS, I noticed the red band was shifted way to the right. I spread out the range and the result offers an interesting twist on this rarely used film.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

d5000 shoots the sunset, central Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
Sunset, central Curry County, OR, Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11

I’ll close with a weird one thanks to the Dali pak and the hipstamatic.
Andrew D. Barron ©1/19/11
I should not have looked at the Flickr posted images of the much better iphone 4 Hipstamatic images.


  1. i just got my instax a week ago! i played with it for the first time today! i didnt even think to use the "dark" setting since i took all the pics outside in the snow. I used "light" mode. Do you prefer the "dark" mode over the other mode? Are all of your pictures taken with "dark" mode? I love how they turned out!

    i also got 3 pics with the black sun ... and was trying so hard to figure what the heck that was (i thought my film or lens went bad). Thank you for your post!

  2. By tomorrow, I'll have the shots up from decent scans. I mostly had things at normal exposure. When shooting the whitewashed buildings, the "darker" was better; so that may be the same for snow. I know, it's hard to experiment at $1 per shot! Another option would be to affix a polarizing filter somehow. Care is necessary as the Fuji retracts completely.
    (untried filter pack, but cool from Polaroid; I've used and like Hoya 52mm filters)

    There are folks trying to attach controllable shutters and good lenses to the instax. See this blog

    Thanks for the comment and stimulating some thought about helping control exposure with physical additions. Post some images on Flickr?

  3. Thanks for your reply.
    I read your latest post and left a comment on it. Those pictures were awesome.
    I am going to try the darker exposure the next time I take my instax out.
    I am new at this. So I appreciate reading your blog and I find it very helpful. Thanks again! I will post pics on flickr when I can find some time to scan them!

  4. Realy cool. Thanks for the artistic article :)

  5. I read your review on and decided to check out your blog.
    Thank you so much!

  6. I was looking for info on instant picture cameras. Looks like the Fujifilm model is the one to go for. I'm impressed with the quality of your pictures.

  7. hi there! can i ask what mode you're shooting your instax in? the colours are pretty neat for the daylight shots. did you go with light or normal?

  8. I almost never use the 'Lighten' setting, and in brighter scenes I usually use 'Darken'. I find the 'Darken' setting to appear sharper than the same shot with 'Normal'. The underexposure (or darker) image can sometimes be worth it for what I see as added sharpness. Fuji instax manual :

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