It feels like just the other day, but it’s been nearly three years since the Instax Mini 11 was launched in 2020. The brand has released updates across various ranges over this period and has been consistent with its release schedule not to force fans to upgrade too frequently. Earlier this year, Fujifilm launched the new Instax Mini 12 with a few new features for the fans.
Without a comparative side-by-side view, you’d assume the Instax Mini 11 and 12 had the same designs. However, an up-close view of the two shows that the latter has a more streamlined design approach than the previous iteration.
As a result, it looks more uniform in its rounded rectangle shape. It’s a toss-up between the function of the previous model aimed to fit your hand better versus the overall look of the new model. I prefer the more elegant look of the Instax Mini 12.
Not only does the new design look better, but it also makes it easier to design cases and accessories for the device. It was already a bit tough to squeeze the lens through a few cases on my Mini 11, which made it a little more challenging due to the curved right-hand side. While you’ll still have a small task sliding in the lens, it’s much easier overall with the new lineup of cases.
However, the new twist lens is one of the most significant design changes between the two models. On the Mini 11, you’d press the button next to the lens to open it up to enable the zoom function. On the Mini 12, however, this has been integrated directly into the lens with its twist support. Users can now simply twist the lens to zoom and twist in the opposite direction to retract it again. This nifty new feature prevents accidentally toggling the zoom when it’s unnecessary.
It may not seem like much, but the changes are helpful and appreciated.
As already mentioned, there are a few changes to the Instax Mini 12 over the previous generation. Also mentioned was the first switch from a toggle to a twist approach to the lens for zooming in. There are a few more to note as further to this.
It may not be as intuitive, but Fujifilm has added auto-flash to the Mini range. It was an always-on approach in previous iterations, which has changed slightly with the Mini 12. This means it can detect light sensitivity with a new sensor on the front, allowing it to adjust the flash intensity when a low-light setting is detected.
The two sensors in the front have also been moved to a more central location. This may seem trivial, but with many complaints about your fingers often hovering over the sensors, it makes for a less intrusive design.
One of the first notable changes to the performance of the Instax Mini 12 is the improved viewfinder. There were previous issues with the Mini 11 in that it wasn’t always accurate regarding what was visible in the frame and the final shot. This has been corrected with the addition of parallax correction, much to the delight of fans.
I’ve mentioned it twice, but the lens’s new twist feature to zoom in and out while taking photos is a nice touch. It’s much more practical, like standard full-body cameras with zooming in and out. It isn’t as smooth as full-body cameras, but it works well. The first twist turns the device on, and the second twist performs the zoom function.
The adjustment of the zoom mode makes it better to take selfies. The little front-facing mirror is still on the front of the Mini 11. It works reasonably well enough to be quite useful. This, along with the improved viewfinder, will save on many prints that don’t print as desired.
The camera has a shutter speed of between 0.5 sec and 1/250 sec, depending on the light sensor. This is combined with the ISO 800 sensitivity rating of Instax Mini film. As a result, the camera doesn’t function best in bright sunlight, which tends to have slight overexposure. This, however, is a trait with all previous models, so if you’re not new to the game, it won’t phase you too much. The best results are on those slightly cloudy days for the perfect balance of brightness and colours.
It may not be exclusive to the Instax Mini 12, but Fujifilm has also released a new app to coincide with the unit’s release. The Instax Up now allows users to store their images taken on their Instax devices, which are then imported to their smartphone and allowed to share to the cloud or their social media apps. I can see this being a pretty useful app for many, as you can tag locations and various other filters to streamline at a later date. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to print these images or any other cloud-stored images on the Mini 12 as you would on the Mini Evo or Link devices.
If there is one aspect that could be improved is its use of AA batteries. With several other Instax devices already offering built-in rechargeable batteries, the brand has the know-how and technology to integrate into the Mini range. Yes, it may come at a small cost to consumers, but it beats regularly replacing batteries, which can also be a bit of an economic waste.
The Instax Mini 12 has improved several features while adding a few more for good measure. Although it lacks some features of more premium models, it was designed to be a portable and on-the-fly instant camera. It continues to do this job well and is a significant enough improvement over the Mini 11 to warrant an upgrade.
Another significant aspect of the launch of the new Instax Mini 12 is its price. Fujifilm manages to keep its price down to R1,499, a roughly R200 increase over its predecessor. Despite the Rand/Dollar exchange rate, pricing remains competitive and affordable for many fans of the Instax Mini range. The Instax range has always been a great value for money and continues in that vein with the latest release.
Instax Mini 12
There are quite a number of small tweaks on the Instax Mini 12 to make fans of previous models want the upgrade. Fans of the unit can still purchase the camera at a great price, despite the difference in exchange rate since the previous model’s launch.