In December 2018, I didn’t know what to ask for as a Christmas present. I’m pretty lucky in that I had been able to buy myself everything that I wanted or needed throughout the year and there wasn’t much that was lacking in my life. So, I had no idea that my husband was going to buy me an Instax Mini 9 camera. I never had a Polaroid camera in my younger years, although I always wanted one. I was delighted to finally be able to have instant photos. That’s why I thought I would write a review of this camera. There may be others wanting to buy it who haven’t yet. Disclaimer: this review is not paid for. It’s all my own thoughts and feelings and I have no affiliation with Instax, although if you click on the links in this article, you’ll be taken to Amazon where I’ll get a small amount of affiliate commission if you do make a purchase. Now that the legal bit is out of the way, let’s get talking about the camera itself.
Pictured above is the set that I have, the ice blue Instax Mini 9 plus a case for the camera. That’s probably the first thing I wanted to say about this. Not all of the cameras on sale come with a case. If you want one, and believe me, you will, you have to source a deal with a case included. The camera is quite bulky but despite the size of it, it’s made of quite easily scratched materials. It’s going to get damaged quickly in your bag and is too big to fit in a pocket. Please, if you’re buying it for yourself or for a loved one, make sure there’s a case.
Next thing is, the battery life. It’s excellent. I’ve been using it for over a year now and haven’t had to change the batteries yet. This is really good, considering that my little digital camera needs charged at least once a week and the battery doesn’t hold a charge.
There’s also a strap that comes with the Instax Mini 9. It seems pretty pointless to me. I’ve never used it and I found it a bit annoying if I’m honest. It’s not like with the size and weight of it, you’re going to walk around with this attached to your wrist.
There is one cool little feature on the Instax Mini 9 and that’s a selfie mirror. So you can still take your selfies using one of these. It’s a tiny little square of reflective material next to the lens that is curved so it makes you look like you’re in a house of mirrors at a fairground, but it gives you a good idea of where you need to be to take that selfie.
The quality of the pictures is average. It’s obviously going to be nowhere near as good as digital camera photo quality and if I’m honest it’s not even as good as the old 35mm camera pictures. It’s exactly what you would expect from a Polaroid type photo. If picture quality is of high importance to you, I wouldn’t invest in this camera. It’s more for people who want an instant memory and want to be able to have wallet sized photos to carry around or share with friends.
The big issue with the Instax Mini 9 for me is that it’s expensive to buy the refills for the printed photos. You can find them cheap on sites and apps like Wish, but the time you’ll wait for the deliveries is ridiculous. Plus, even at their cheapest online price, the refills are still expensive. Unless you have a lot of disposable income to invest, you’ll find this problematic.
I had this great idea that I was going to buy a photo album and fill it with the pictures I took with my Instax Mini 9. So, I bought a couple of packs of the film (paper?) to get me started, along with a photo album with 365 spaces in it. But I quickly found that I was struggling to find interesting things to take pictures of, and more importantly, I was struggling to afford the refills. It was going to be more time and money than it was worth. I’m sure there will be plenty of people out there who have a similar idea and if you manage it, good for you. It’s not easy though.
I really liked the Instax Mini 9. It’s cute and quirky and I love taking pictures. But is it a camera I could recommend? Not really. Not unless you have the money to spend and not unless you are fine with the low picture quality. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy using it myself and I have some really sweet photos to add to my wallet, but it’s been a lot of expense and it hasn’t really paid off yet.
There’s also the sheer size of this camera. It’s easily four times as big as my digital camera. It’s difficult to transport and I admit that all the photos I’ve taken so far with the Instax Mini 9 were taken at home. When you have a phone with you at all times, that can take high quality pics, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth carrying around all the bulk. This could be a really good time to mention that there are devices available that can print out photos using the same paper that the Instax Mini 9 uses, such as the Kiipix. I haven’t tried it so can’t review it or recommend it, but it’s good to know that these devices are available.
Overall, I’d say that I love it and I’m glad I have it, but I’m not sure I would recommend the Instax Mini 9. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 simply for being what it is. Real world usage and the expense involved is not reflected in that score. Then it would be lower because I’m broke and can’t afford to keep using it as often as I would like.