Fuji’s New square format instant film has been accompanied by the launch of the first Instax SQ10 hybrid camera which has been followed by the commercialization of the totally analogue version SQ6 and, as always so far, the complaint towards Fuji is always About the lack of manual controls and adjustments in these cameras. Also in this case Lomography has entered the business by launching, with a virtually immediate successful Kickstarter campaign, its own version of camera that offers some well accepted additional functionalities, the Lomo ‘Instant Square which is widely available from January 2018.
HOW IT WORKS
This Lomo ‘ nstant Square has a very special look because it appears more like an old analogue camera than a modern product, with the coating of fake black leather and chrome plating around the lens, which is closed and protected by a double retractable curtain. Once you understand how to unlock it, operation to be done by acting directly on the front (where the lens is located), you face with an extensible design with bellows that brings the camera to a more easily identifiable shape; simultaneously to the opening of the bellows, the protective curtain is withdrawn showing the lens and the internal circuitry of the camera is activated and remains active for a few minutes in case of non-use.
Most of the controls are on the back of the camera, which is dominated by the film compartment door: the control buttons, in fact, are all colonnades on the right side of the back; It is to be recognized the good shape of the whole command deck, with descriptive serigraphs, symbols and signalling LEDs in addition to the buttons, which seem well stable in their seat.
In The order we find:
- Flash on/off Command
- Multiple exposure Control
- Over-underexposure Adjustment
- Selection method of exposure (Automatic or BULB)
- Shutter Delay (10 seconds)
These commands allow a discreet creative control over the operation of the camera and allow to exploit in a more complete way the qualities of the Fujifilm Instax films.
The other commands of the Lomo ‘Instant Square consist of the shutter release button on the front of the camera (the Silvered Lomo logo, which initially could mislead) and the focus zone selection lever, located on the lens plate.
The package is completed by the residual pose detector that in this case consists of a strip of ten LED points placed on the upper casing of the camera: each lighting LED corresponds to a residual pose, while when the cartridge is exhausted, all ten elements blink simultaneously.
It is a signaling method that we find more immediate and appealing than the rotating markers present on the Fujifilm Instax and the other instant cameras by Lomography.
Using the Lomo ‘Instant Square is very intuitive and fun: remember to deactivate, if not needed, the flash once turned on the camera and make sure to focus correctly; the camera will allow you immediately to get good photos with excellent sharpness and the typical colors of Instax films. The 95mm lens is slightly wide-angle, corresponding roughly to a 45mm in the 135 format and has a minimum focusing distance of 0.8 m; the diaphragm, as traditionally in this kind of cameras, is rather closed and starts from a maximum aperture of f/10 (and minimum of f/22) however necessary to have reasonable depth of field.
Once you are familiar with all the commands described above, you can also launch yourself into some creative experiment thanks to the controls on the exposure that the camera allows. The multiple exposure function, in particular, is very effective and denotes the correct functioning of the light meter, which has proved decidedly reliable even in single image and with differences in brightness even rather marked in the scene. In Bulb mode, which is activated by pressing the Mode B button, the meter will obviously be deactivated and any evaluation on the correct exposure will be left to the user. Bulb mode is still limited to 30 sec, while in auto exposure mode, the minimum shutter speed is 8 seconds. See below some pictures taken to try the Lomo ‘Instant Square on the field.
A warning: it may happen that by opening the Lomo ‘Instant Square the lens cover is not actioned and therefore remains in position: make sure with a look and in case just close and reopen the camera to avoid wasting a pose. Additionally, it is worth mentioning a certain impression of low solidity of the open bellows : this is due also to the overall lightness of the apparatus, but the Lomo Instant Square, although it is certainly not a tank does not seem even so little resistant. Be confident to shoot with it without risk of breakage.
Finally, we want to mention an interesting plus with which Lomography has equipped this camera, as it had already done with the ‘Instant Wide: the infrared remote control. This is placed in a special pocket in the bottom of the camera and, when stored, completes the grip profile. The remote control has only two keys, which operate the shutter for a normal or prolonged exposure and is particularly useful if you want to perform long exposures or multiple exposures on a tripod.
Another peculiarity that jumps to the eye observing in the viewfinder is the presence of a darker part that creates a rectangular frame in a portion of the viewfinder itself (which is square): this frame serves as a guide if you use one of the accessories of the Lomo ‘ nstant Square, the Instax Mini film back. This is nothing but a back that replaces the original (acting on the hinges) and that allows to use the smaller Fujifilm Instax Mini film. The cons of this solution is the increase in viewfinder imprecision, which leads easily to erroneous results in terms of framing.
Finally there are further accessories available, initially all included in the package dedicated to the supporters of the Kickstarter campaign, such as the Splitzer to be applied on the lens and the Orange filter (which gave us hope in a future Black and White Square film).
-Lightness and compactness
-Easy to use
-Remote Control for remote use
-Use of the Instax Square film
-Precision of metering system
-Viewfinder Accuracy, especially with Instax Mini film
-Possible fragility of the lens cap
-Cost of the camera and the accessories (at its launch)
Model: Compact instant camera, fixed lens
Format: Instax Square or Instax Mini film
Shutter: Electronic, Central, speed from 8 sec to 1/250 sec, B mode (max 30 sec)
Lens: 95mm f/10, minimum aperture f/22
Exposure Modes: Automatic, Bulb
Focus: manual from 0.8 m to infinity, on three zones
Viewfinder: Galilean with an approximate frame size
Self-timer: Yes, delay 10 sec
Flash: Built-in, manual activation/exclusion
Multiple Exposures: Yes, unlimited
Exposure Compensation: -1EV to + 1EV, steps of 1 EV
Power supply: N. 2 type CR2 (6V) batteries; No. 1 CR2025 (3V) for remote control
AVAILABILITY AND PRICES
The Lomo ‘Instant Square is available on the Lomography website or in photographic shops, priced between around 110 and 160 EUR; since the introduction, several versions of the camera have been added, as always coloured, and also a model with glass optics (and at higher price); the various accessories are also widely available at the same addresses. Instax Square and Instax Mini films can be easily found in every online shop or store ins ingle (10 shots) or multiple packs. As it happens for the most interesting Lomography cameras, there is the dedicated microsite on the manufacturer web platform.