Lomo'Instant

$119 (as tested $139)
lomography.com

These are just some of the accessories that come in the Lomo'Instant 3-lens kit

Lomography offers its Lomo’Instant camera for both mini and wide Instax film. The Lomo’Instant can be purchased on its own or with a trio of accessory lenses, expanding the capabilities of its built-in 27mm equiv. F8 lens to include fisheye, portrait and close-up options. Our handsome, navy blue ‘Reykjavik’ kit also comes with something called the 'Spitzer' that partially covers the lens for creative multiple exposures that cover only a selected part of the frame.

The Lomo’Instant puts a fair amount of exposure options in the hands of its owner. As mentioned, you can create as many exposures as you want before you commit to spitting out an instant print. You can also add ±2 stops of exposure compensation, by way of selecting a larger or smaller aperture (it’s F16 by default). Standard (1/125 sec) or bulb shutter speeds are available, and the camera functions in three overall shooting modes:

  • Auto Mode: Flash is on and shutter is restricted to standard
  • Creative Mode (Flash On): Flash is on but either standard or bulb shutter may be used
  • Creative Mode (Flash Off): No flash, either standard or bulb shutter may be used

These modes and recommended aperture/shutter settings for each of them are helpfully inscribed on the bottom of the camera. The whole thing is powered by four AAA batteries that required a little patience and finesse to fit into their compartment.

A lever along the side of the camera moves the front of the camera forward and backward slightly to adjust focus between two zones: 1m-infinity and 0.4 - 0.9m. Small colored gel strips are also included for use with the flash, and slide neatly in to a slot on the edge of the light.

When holding the camera in portrait orientation, your right thumb falls naturally on the shutter. Additionally, there's a cable release thread for long exposures.

The position of the shutter release encourages portrait orientation shooting, but even though using the shutter feels less intuitive from a landscape orientation I found myself shooting that way mostly. The viewfinder is just your average plastic tunnel, with its parallax problems, but I found it easier to look through than the Fujifilm mini 90’s.

Lomography’s image quality signature move is a noticeable vignette effect. If you’re not into that, this isn’t the instant camera for you. But if you like it, or at least aren't put off by it, the Lomo’Instant packs a lot of creative potential into its chic-looking plastic shell. The full three-lens kit is a nice-to-have, especially for someone with a big creative appetite, but is by no means necessary if you’re just looking to experiment with instant.

The camera lends itself to thoughtful street and candid shooting, though the learning curve is a little bit steep if you’re more inclined to just point and shoot.