I was excited to get my hands on the Fujifilm Instax SQ20. While we review many cameras on this website (mostly mobile shooters), I’ve never had the chance to really use any of the Instax variants. I’ve always wanted to know what the deal is and why people still buy despite the amazing pictures we can take using our mobile phones. Is it worth it? Here are my thoughts.
Look and Feel
When I opened the box and held the camera for the first time, I immediately loved the retro vibe of the Instax SQ20. It sits well in the hand with rounded corners for a better grip. The shutter buttons are perfectly placed and easy to get to even for those with dainty digits. While it is made out of plastic, it does have enough heft to it so it doesn’t feel flimsy. Ours came in beige but it is also available in black.
Just like most people, I didn’t read the thick manual that came with the camera (don’t judge me, I bet you don’t read them too). The Instax SQ20 is incredibly intuitive. It’s simple and straightforward that even non-techies would be able to use it without a hitch.
Most of the controls are at the back of the device. Some buttons are accessible like the ones for adding vignette, adjusting the exposure and putting a filter. It’s great that we have the option of tweaking the photos before we actually print them. One of the advantages of having a hybrid camera is that we can take multiple shots and print only those that we like so we don’t waste film.
Speaking of film, there’s a designated switch at the back of the camera that allows you to refill easily. There’s a yellow marker for the film slot, just close the cover and you’re all set. There are dots on the right side of the screen signifying how many films there are left.
It’s so much fun taking pictures using the SQ20 and it encourages you to get creative with your shots! Press on the menu button and you will find several shooting modes aside from the standard one. Bulb Mode is best used under low light conditions, Double Exposure combines 2 images into 1, Split allows multiple images to be captured in 1 photo, Collage allows an image to be divided into several segments and Timeshift allows for 4 images to be taken with a time difference. Because there are 2 shutter buttons, you can customize it and assign your favorite shooting modes for easy access.
Other things that you can set using the menu button are the flash, timer, and the framing grid, among others.
As for taking selfies, there is a small mirror in front to help frame the shot. It took me several attempts to get one right and it’s a good thing that the camera has a built-in memory and a micro-SD card slot to store the photos.
Motion Mode and Digital Zoom
One feature I really enjoyed is the Motion Mode. Action shots look great but they’re pretty hard to time. With Motion Mode, you can simply record a video and extract that single frame that perfectly captures the moment.
The Instax SQ20 also has a digital zoom that you can adjust using the lens ring. This allows you to go 4x closer without taking a single step.
While the screen of the Instax SQ20 isn’t the best, it is enough for the photographer to properly frame the shot. The printing process is a lot of fun as well. While not unique to this particular model, I always enjoy watching the transition of a photo from digital to an actual print out.
In all honesty, the jpegs are not all that great. I recommend using another camera for pictures that you would like to keep digitally. The main purpose of the shots, at least for the time that I used the Instax, is to see the ones that I would like to print out.
The printed photos, however, are another story. They came out pretty nice with decent colors and enough detail considering its small size. Just like many cameras, the Instax SQ20 takes pretty good shots when there is enough light. It does have a flash for low light situations but it doesn’t always come out that great. I also noticed that the prints tend to be darker than what you see on screen so do be mindful of that.
Charging the Instax SQ20 takes 2 to 3 hours via micro-USB. Unlike the SQ10, the battery can’t be removed from the camera so you can’t carry a spare. This isn’t a big deal though because the battery of the SQ20 lasts forever on a single charge (okay, not forever but you know what I mean). I used it heavily for 2 days and didn’t run out of juice.
Digital photography and sharing photos on social media are great, but there is something incredibly personal and thoughtful about printed pictures. Will the Instax replace mobile photography? Certainly not and that’s not the goal either. I think it’s about having fun while shooting, creating memories with loved ones and bringing heart to photography by making it more personal. Wouldn’t you love receiving a picture from your friend with a handwritten message at the back? I certainly would.
The Fujifilm Instax SQ20 is priced at Php 12,999.