Have your cake and eat it too with Fujifilm’s Instax SQ10
By Chong Jinn Xiung July 8, 2017
- Brings back the charm of printing and keeping photographs
- Offers the ability to apply filters and print multiple photos after capture
The ergonomic shape of the Fujifilm Square SQ10 makes it great to hold whether you are a right or left hander.
WHEN was the last time you held a photograph in your hand? Chances are it has been a long while thanks to the fact that most photos that we take are stored in our phone’s memory or up in the cloud.
Fujifilm has an almost 20-year history with its Instax line of films and cameras, first with their Instax Mini and Wide formats. This time they have gone the extra mile with their latest endeavour, the Instax Square SQ10, a camera that combines the best of digital and analogue in one package.
This oddly shaped camera mixes things up as it is a hybrid that not only shoots and prints square format prints but also captures them digitally.
The SQ10 is a camera of many firsts that changes the way one snaps Instax photos. In short, it is a game changer.
The SQ10 is rather large and chunky for an Instax camera. This is in large part due to the camera’s need to conform with the square format film that it carries which is larger than the Instax Minis that we are used to.
The camera's square shape and form feels comfortable to hold with a rubberised circular ridge around the lens that acts as a natural grip for the camera.
On the front, the SQ10’s lens is surrounded by a thick silver circle that acts as a twistable on/off switch. Annoyingly, the switch is a bit loose and can easily be turned on by accident even when carrying it in a bag.
Flanking the camera are two buttons: one the shutter button and the other a customisable button that you can set to switch between different modes like ‘Double Exposure’ or ‘Bulb Mode’.
The positioning of the button is ideal if you want to take impromptu selfies but the lack of a front-facing mirror makes it challenging to frame a selfie.
Turning the camera around, you will find an Auto and Manual switch on the left side and a little slide out cover housing the microSD card slot and micro USB charging port.
Now, the naming of the mode is misleading, manual mode is not a full on manual override that affords you control over shutter speed, aperture or ISO settings.
It instead allows you to capture digital images (saved into a microSD card) and later select which images you want to print. Auto, on the other hand, makes the SQ10 function very much like your traditional Instax camera forcing you to make every shot count, as every photo you snap is printed right after you press the shutter button.
The biggest and most unique feature of the SQ10 is the inclusion of a 3-inch LCD screen on the back and a 3.6-Megapixel CMOS sensor on the inside to snap digital images.
Continuing the circular design language on the front is a round circular control pad beneath the screen that appears daunting to use at first but is actually very intuitive and easy to use. The six buttons surrounding the control pad act as shortcuts to different functions like printing, playback and filters.
The LCD screen comes in really handy. For one, it is much bigger than the tiny eye piece that you may be used to seeing in the Instax Mini cameras. With a bigger viewfinder, it is much easier to frame your shots.
The SQ10 has the ability to add one of 10 Instagram-like filters to your photos that you can customise and adjust to your heart’s content.
We also liked the smaller touches to the SQ10’s interface. When shooting, there are 10 dots on the right side of the interface that denotes how many shots you have left in the cartridge. This in itself is a massive improvement as you will always know how much film there is on the camera at all times.
Using the SQ10 out and about, the camera is by far the best Instax camera around as it allows you to do what no other Instax camera can -- save and print photos at will.
This is a completely new experience that makes the SQ10 as the ideal party camera as you can easily print multiple copies of the same photo without having to snap three photos to distribute to three people.
Nailing that perfect shot has never been easier as you can take multiple photos and pick the best one to print. That’s not all, the images that you select to print can still be adjusted with the Instagram-like filters.
So really, you have lots of flexibility to play around with your images without fear of running out of film.
This isn't your father's Instax camera. The SQ10 has a 3-inch LCD screen that can be used to frame shots and select photos to print.
As a camera in its own right, the SQ10’s autofocus isn’t particularly fast so snapping moving subjects is quite a challenge. The camera also has a hard time getting the right exposure at times, delivering varying degrees of over or underexposed images depending on the lighting conditions.
At the very least the camera’s always-on flash will help you capture shots in low light and doesn’t overpower scenes in daylight.
The SQ10 records square images at a 1,920 x 1,920 resolution that plays to its 1:1 aspect ratio. These are definitely not the best photos you can expect out of a digital camera, lacking the higher resolution of modern cameras, but the resulting images are good enough for posting on Instagram.
It is a shame that a camera designed for the Instagram generation lacks the ability to wirelessly transmit captured photos to your smart device.
Granted, this may bump the cost of the camera up further but it is strange and inconvenient that you need to take out the microSD card to transfer to a computer or phone before you can finally share your photos.
It is a surprise that it took this long for Fujifilm to create a hybrid camera like the SQ10 but here we are.
The SQ10 isn’t going to win any awards for its digital camera capabilities. Safe to say, even your smartphone takes better digital stills than the SQ10.
But the magic of the SQ10 lies in its Instax heritage, the ability to print photos on the spot is something delights people in ways no simple digital camera can.
All things considered, the SQ10 is a fun camera that you shouldn’t take too seriously. It could really use a wireless-sharing function to help transmit digital photos directly to your smartphone for easy sharing.
The US$308 (RM1,328) asking price is honestly a bit steep for a camera that doesn’t shoot great digital stills. If anything, it is more for the novelty of the SQ10’s ability to print memories wherever and whenever.