Leica Sofort

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Let's get down to brass tacks; the Leica Sofort is a rebadged Fujifilm Instax mini 90. Ever heard of the Cadillac Cimarron? It's that sort of thing. They even rebadged the same rechargeable battery.

So what does the extra $200 buy you? Yes, there is that red dot which goes great with the AUTOMATIK-HEKTOR written on the lens. The name gives anyone who inevitably has already picked you out as a hipster sucker something else to jab about, probably with some joke about IKEA furniture.

Okay, let's stop shaming Leica. They're a small company who did, in this writer's opinion, a nice job restyling the slightly tacky mini 90. We can't necessarily say they can't say fixed the problems of the Fujifilm, but they have improved the ergonomics a bit. There's no longer a shutter button or power switch up front; there's only the one shutter release in the natural spot and the power switch is on the back. The much more angular design of the Sofort is easier to grip than the rounded, slippery mini 90.

It uses a similar sort of controls as the mini 90. A mode button cycles through the modes, although they're a bit different. There's self-portrait, party, sports, macro and multiple exposure.

They made another change from the mini 90. The front ring now toggles between the two focus settings instead of shooting modes like it did on the 90, allowing a degree of control that wasn't in any of the Fujifilm cameras - it only changed based on shooting mode, which also altered the behavior of the flash. It's a nice little difference, and being able to also completely override the flash makes the Sofort more controllable than any of the Fujifilm offerings, while also being able to let the camera takeover when it isn't worth wasting film.

At the end of it, we're a bit sad that the Leica costs more than twice as much as the mini 90, because there are much better Instax mini cameras for $300. If it cost just a fraction more than the mini 90, rather than a multiple of the cost, it wouldn't be such a hard sell for the better design and better controls. Instead, it will become another low-hanging punchline, which this writer now feels a bit ashamed for taking advantage of.