Instax Mini 9 Polaroid Camera Review

Friday, 9 February 2018

Payday was last week (hands up if you've felt personally victimised by the December - January payroll) and I decided to tick off one of my new year's resolutions as soon as possible - own a Polaroid camera. I have one previous experience with polaroids, in which, to my horror, my best friend wanted a quick selfie. Unfortunately, I'm a member of the unphotogenic gang, I always look startled/wonky/flat in photos, however, this one photo came out relatively well. Was it the flash?The filter polaroid cameras seem to print? The slight out of focus softening of all my harsher features? 

instax mini 9 camera with photos

Thanks to Urban Outfitter's promotion of Instax Mini cameras, I was already aware of these nifty little polaroids, and ended up venturing online to order myself the FUJI Instax Mini 9 Camera in Smokey White. Along with the 10 sheets included with the camera, and a pack of 20 shots, it came to £85.

instax mini 9 lens

The package comes with two AA batteries, and after following Lauren's tutorial on how to load the cartridges and take a photo I started up my camera for the first time. To start the camera you press the thumb-sized button at the base of the lens. Unlike my DSLR this lens springs to life the second you press the button, complete with a very satisfying click.

instax mini 9 features

The camera suggests which setting to set your camera's ISO light sensitivity to. I was photographing inside with soft but bright lighting and the camera was suggesting the sun icon. 

Sometimes I felt like relying on the camera's recommendation meant my photos weren't always lit correctly, so now I only use the house icon in very low lighting, and the brightest sun outdoors in direct sunlight. Indoor photos with fairly natural lighting seem to be fine on the cloudy setting!

instax mini 9 front facing mirror

It features a very small but useful mirror by the lens to help you frame any selfies or help direct a friend trying to get you that all-important holiday snap.

One thing I got wrong the first way round was which way to hold the camera! The side where the Polaroid will come out needs to be pointing up if you want the white space under the photo at the bottom of the shot. It's also easy to see the light setting from here, even if the viewfinder is on the wrong side for a lefty like me!

instax mini 9 viewfinder

There's a handy little icon half way down that lets you know how many shots you have left. Always make sure your film is empty before opening up the camera, once those sheets are exposed to light they'll be useless! When looking through the viewfinder, just be aware that it's not showing you what your lens is seeing like a digital camera would, it's essentially just a little window to give you a rough idea of what the frame will be like.

first attempt at polaroid photo

My first attempt (featuring Cosmo) came out with very high contrast. The room was actually fairly well lit so I was surprised by the darkness around the photo. It had recommended the house setting, however, I think maybe this meant the flash was too harsh, and so I tried again with the cloud setting with a much better result (below).

One thing I noticed very early on is that landscapes, intricate objects with lots of detail or anything macro were out of the question - this was going to be my portrait camera.

polaroid photo mistakes

I experimented with doing shots up close (about 15cm away) and found that the flash either drowned out the image or couldn't capture the depth I would get with my normal digital camera. Back to arm length selfies!

polaroid photos of friends

polaroid photo of two friends


  • You have to wait about 30 seconds for the flash to warm up so don't try and take a photo in a hurry without turning your camera on first
  • The batteries are said to last for a minimum of 100 shots
  • What you're seeing in the viewfinder isn't what your lens is seeing, be mindful that the lens is slightly lower down!
  • Personally, I found the lighting guide on the side a bit misleading. In my house it recommended the house setting which is for the lowest levels of lighting, however, the room was well lit with natural light so the photo came out a little overexposed. Now I just chose the setting depending on how light I think my subject is out of 4. 
Overall I love this camera. There's something very special about having a physical copy of a photo in your pocket from a day well spent, even when they are a little out of focus! It takes a few attempts to get use to, and it can be quite an expensive hobby (these shots average at about £1/shot, however since then I've found this site which sells shots at roughly half that price and has a subscription service to make thing a little easier, woo woo.) I know I still have a long way to go in terms of getting the lighting right, but either way as an amateur photographer I'm very happy with my purchase. 

What do you think of these cameras? Something special or just another expensive fad? Have you taken any great polaroid photos? Please post them below I'm so intrigued by the results!

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  1. I've been wanting one of these cameras for the longest time, they look so cool! you've taken some lovely photos!x

    1. They're the best, I highly recommend them. It doesn't quite overtake my DSLR but its such a nice novelty! Thanks for your comment xx

  2. Such helpful tips on this camera! I've been eyeing one for a while, but I'm also tempted by a hp sprocket, I can't decide which!
    Helpless Whilst Drying

    1. Yeah I was deciding between the two aswell! Nothing wrong with getting both eh...

  3. How much the megapixels? Im wondering if the the photo will be good as DSLR

  4. Its not digital so it doesn't work in megapixels I'm afraid!

  5. My boyfriend bought me one for Christmas after me constantly complaining that the photos I take on my phone I never get printed out haha, I've used it a handful of times but after reading this I'm definitely going to get it out and use it more! x

  6. i just bought one and i'm taking the first pictures, but they come out black. i tried the camera first and everything seemed to work just fine. budget 4k video

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  8. Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!.. professional camera lens


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