Buying Guide: The best instant cameras
Published Jul 9, 2018 | Dan Bracaglia
Lomography Lomo'Instant Square
Instax Square format | 45mm equiv. F10 lens | Auto exposure control with exposure compensation
What we like:
- Unique design
- Fairly easy to operate
- Positive and negative exp. comp. modes
- Creative modes like double exposure
- Ships with lots of cool accessories
- Tripod socket
What we don't:
- Manually driven focus
- Build quality
- Sharp edges
- CR2 batteries can be hard to find
The quirky, folding Lomo'Instant Square is something of an oddity, in that it shoots square images on Fujifilm Instax Square film. Features are limited but the important bases are covered and if nothing else, it’s bizarre enough to be a talking point in social situations.
The Instant Square’s folding bellows design is unique. Presumably meant to recall the classic medium-format folding cameras of old, the actual effect is of a plasticky, flimsy-feeling collection of sharp edges with a lens on the front. Mechanically, we’re not sure how well the mechanism will hold up to regular use, either. A frighteningly sharp snapping sound accompanies the lens unlocking action, which is repeated when you close the camera up again. We've tried a couple of cameras and both made the same alarming sound, so it's not just our sample. The camera is powered by 2 CR2 batteries which easily provided us with juice for 60 frames (that's about six film packs).
Considering its fairly high price, we can't help feel that the Lomo Instant Square is under-built
The Instant Square comes with a simple remote control, which is stowed in the camera body when not in use. Other features include a multiple exposure mode and a 10 second self timer. The camera ships with a variety of accessories including colored flash gels, a glass portrait attachment lens and a ‘Splitzer’ attachment for split multi-exposure images. There's no info LCD but remaining shots are shown via lit LEDs on the side of the body.
Unlike some of the options in this market segment, the Instant Square features a a relatively long focal length of 95mm (45mm equiv). Exposure control is pretty much fully automatic in ‘Mode A’, but brightness can be biased somewhat with a simple +/- toggle. Bulb exposure (‘Mode B’) is also an option. Flash is on by default but can be turned off if required, and focus is manual, using a 3-position switch. Minimum focus is 0.8m / 2 ft, there’s an intermediate setting of 1 - 2.5 m (3.2 - 8.2 ft) - which the camera resets to whenever it is closed and re-opened for use - and for landscapes there’s an infinity setting.
Considering its fairly high price, we can't help feel that the Lomo Instant Square is rather under-built. Even the viewfinder is small, imprecise and confusingly masked, making accurate compositions a lottery in the 0.8 - 2 m (2 - 6.6 ft) focus range. The lens is pretty good, and it’s capable of churning out pleasant enough images, but the Instant Square’s general operational awkwardness - plus concerns about the durability of the folding mechanism - mean we’d encourage you to look elsewhere.
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