Instant film cameras aren’t the best cameras for quality pictures. In fact, you’d be better off with your smartphone. So the question is… why would anyone still want to purchase a RM468 BTS Butter version of the Instax mini 11 …in this day and age?
Instax’s special BTS edition of the Instax mini 11 looks like a masterpiece. It comes in a bright yellow, as well as pretty flowery shapes around the lens barrel. The lens barrel even has the BTS logo—so you can show everyone who you stan.
Additionally, the box comes with a well-designed strap with a different style on each side. it also comes with two little accessories to decorate the shutter button, even though they don’t stick too well and pop off with a slight nudge, even with the stickers that came with them.
Snapping a pic with the Instax mini is actually extremely easy, even for me—someone who never really has the patience to fiddle with different settings when taking a picture. It’s just two button pushes. One to press the power button for the lens barrel to pop up, and one to press the shutter button to take the actual picture.
To take a picture, you can use the viewfinder to sort of help you take the picture you want. Granted, whatever you see in the viewfinder will not really be what you will see in the picture as the viewfinder is placed a lot more to the right side. Once you take the picture, the photo pops up almost immediately—but it would not be fully developed yet.
While you might want to literally shake the photo like a Polaroid picture, you shouldn’t. According to Polaroid, shaking the photo too vigorously could distort the image. Instead, lay it on a flat surface and shield it from the wind.
The Instax mini 11 thrives in dark places. Its automatic flash can light up the darkest rooms you’re in, and it will still make the pictures you take look good. However, the mini 11 will not let you opt out of flash, so taking the camera to places that won’t accept flash photography would be extremely difficult.
To take a selfie, you can pull out the lens barrel a little more to reveal Selfie mode. Instax describes this mode as a way to “take close-ups more effectively”. I, however, felt a little weird taking selfies like this. It feels a little too MySpace-y. The tiny mirror it comes with doesn’t really help either. It doesn’t match the full screen of a phone camera, so I can’t see smaller details like—is my hair out of place? Do I have a blemish? How are my angles?
Taking the mini 11 around, I’ve noticed a stark difference between how I took Instax pictures and how other “Instagrammers” took photos. If you use a camera phone or any other digital camera, you basically get unlimited opportunities to take as many photos as you want until you get the perfect shot. But for the Instax, you better hope you got it in one. The camera can only carry one film pack of ten photos at a time—and they aren’t cheap, either. A set of two film packs costs RM57, and a pack of the Butter ones costs RM41… each.
I also took the mini 11 around at night, seeing as the camera does really well in dark locations. But I failed to realise how badly it does with landmark photography before it was too late. It super isn’t for capturing things far away, especially in the dark.
During the day, we also tried taking Instax mini photos using Rory’s own mini 8—along with the new mini 11. The photos taken with the mini 11 have the yellow Butter border, and the mini 8 photos have the regular white border.
The flash manages to capture the subject (ie: me) pretty well, even if the whole picture does look like a VSCO cam filter. It doesn’t really capture all the colours in the background. In fact, I think that the photo taken with the mini 8 provided just a little bit more colour. Still, the mini 11 provided a clearer result with a little bit more contrast.
Selfie-mode allowed my face—the one closest to the camera—to be the main subject. It focuses on my face, and in doing so, it blurs out the background a little bit. Using the mini 8, which does not have selfie-mode, everything seems to be equally focused, which could mean a blurrier picture.
Do NOT use the Instax mini 11 to commemorate food or landmarks. Use them for people, or even animals if you really want. But if the mini 11 failed greatly at something, it’s food photography. Oh, man did it mess up. I could blame myself but all I really had to do was to press a button to take a picture. So what went wrong?
The flash was way too intense, and it ended up being too overexposed. Meanwhile, with the mini 8, its manual settings (which the Instax mini 11 doesn’t have) probably helped control the issue.
I touched on this earlier. Do not take pictures of buildings or faraway places (especially in the dark) with the Instax mini. It’s a waste of film.
So, would you still want an Instax mini 11?
Technology has come a long way. So, there really is no need for something like the Instax mini 11. But here’s the thing… there’s something so nice about having one for special occasions.
You might go on a trip, or maybe you’re gathering with friends for a birthday. They’re great, easy, and instant souvenirs for you and the people you love at the end of the day.
The Instax mini 11 is pretty expensive, at RM335 for a regular non-BTS one, or RM488 for the BTS one. And seeing how expensive the film packs are as well, it really is only appealing if you really really want a simple but good instant film camera.
However, if you’re into a more vintage, stereotypical look to your instant camera photos, you can consider saving a little bit of money getting the older versions of the camera like the mini 8. The photos the mini 11 produced look as clear as what you would get with digital photos—which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But do you need it? Is it a must-have? Would you suffer without it? No.
It’s just nice to see the memories we’ve made without me looking at a screen or anything. Like, I’m not looking to detox from screens anytime soon. But it kind of makes me want to get more photos printed and saved in albums like we did in the old days. The Instax mini 11 just makes it a tad bit easier.