Buying Guide: The best instant cameras
Published Jul 9, 2018 | Dan Bracaglia
Instax Mini format | 35mm equiv. F12.7 lens | Auto exposure control with exposure compensation
What we like:
- Positive and negative exp. comp. modes
- Very stylish
- Small and reasonably light
- Cool creative modes
- Ability to completely disable flash
- Tripod socket
What we don't:
- Somewhat complicated to use
- Difficult to frame close-ups
Leica's only instant camera offering, the Sofort, occupies the upper end of the Instax Mini market, offering a built-in rechargeable battery, some limited manual controls and lots of creative modes, all in a sleek package with a fabulous red dot.
Essentially Leica's version of the Fujifilm Mini 90, the Sofort is fairly lightweight and compact for its class, making it painless to carry around. It's built of high-quality plastic and feels like it could stand up to some abuse. A leather strip wrapped around its edges gives it a very classy look and we're big fans of the Mint and Orange color options. The shutter button is located on top, which we prefer to the front-facing shutter releases on many of its competitors. The Sofort is powered by a BP-DC17 rechargeable battery which should provide 100 shots per charge (good for ~10 film packs).
There are other high-end Instax Mini cameras that offer the same experience for a lot less money
There are lots of creative modes offered on the Sofort, including Macro, Bulb, Self timer, Double Exposure and Selfie mode. There's also a Party and People mode - for balancing flash with ambient light - as well as a Sports and Action mode which biases toward a faster shutter. An info LCD on the back indicates which modes are selected.
You can disable the flash on the Sofort, which is a nice feature and an exposure compensation option allows you to either brighten or darken by 2/3rd EV. The camera uses an electronic variable-speed shutter (1.8-1/400 sec) and a flash with a 2.7 m / 8.9 ft max range. Three motor-driven focus positions give a good deal of versatility - there's one for normal shooting, one for Macro mode and one for Landscape mode. Overall, you can get great image quality out of the Sofort, but the number of options can feel a bit overwhelming.
The Leica Sofort is among the prettiest instant cameras on the market, but from a features/controls point of view, there are other high-end Instax Mini cameras that offer exactly the same experience for a lot less money.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
View Comments (58)
Camera buying guides