Instant Film is Dead. Long Live Instant Film! (Lomo'instant Glass Camera Review) / by Simeon Smith

My usually pretty crap scanner is on it's last legs, so some of the images below have lines through them. Just imagine how brilliant they look without the lines through them. Squint a little and you can hardly tell. Anyway, I wanted to publish this blog because I wrote it a few days ago and it's just sat here and I'm going to stop waffling on now. 

This morning I was thinking about the discontinued film stock I’m going to miss the most.

Because that's the kind of sad geek I am.

There are some strong contenders for most dreadful loss, I loved shooting with Kodak BW400CN (super catchy name), but I suppose Ilford XP2 will do as a replacement. I still enjoy AGFA Portrait 160, but expired stock is drying up.

But the film I’ll miss the most will be FP100c.

Local Indie legends, My Name Is Ian, Shot to FP100c Pack Film. 

Local Indie legends, My Name Is Ian, Shot to FP100c Pack Film. 

I’ve never been a massive fan of instant photography. Sure, it’s fun and all, but it’s not the most versatile medium. The colours are never quite what I want from an image. It’s just personal choice.

But FP100c – that’s a different kettle of fish. The peel apart film provides amazing tones, great resolution, and a beautiful vintage look. What’s more the land cameras it was made for are still just amazing. Beautiful rangefinders, great lenses, amazing auto-exposure.

So I never thought I’d love another instant format again.

Until last week.

Last week I received a belated prize from Lomography. As a winner of their Ten and One Awards for "At The Table" I was sent a special edition of their Lomo’Instant Automat Glass. It’s beautiful and it is the perfect companion for Instax Mini film, a relatively recent film format from Fuji, the monsters that created, then killed, my beloved FP100c.

Special edition camera for a special edition person. 

Special edition camera for a special edition person. 

This is the third instalment of their Instax Mini line, and has done away with soft plastic f8 lenses from previous editions in favour of a REALLY WIDE f4.5 glass lens.

Despite the tiny instax mini format, it’s hard not to fall in love with the results from this instant marvel. 

It's sharp, sharp enough to make up for the fact that the prints that come out of the camera are small. The lens was also a great choice, as you don't have to focus if your subject's further than a meter away. The controls are simple and well thought-out, and the design is stunning. I especially like the ten tiny LEDs on the side of the camera that count down as you use the film. 

As it's a super-wide lens, it's all too easy to get the typical "halo" of lens flare - this lens could either do with some coating, or a hood. Luckily Lomography have though of that and the lens is actually threaded and will take accessories; a crazy feature for an instax mini shooter. The over and under exposure buttons are also a little too heavy-handed for my liking - probably great for shooting indoors in dreary conditions or in bright sun on the beach, but for just tapping the exposure a little up or down, they're too much. 

Overall though, this is the best instant camera I've used since the old Polaroid Land Cameras. A real step forward that sees instant cameras evolve, not just stay alive. 


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