Let’s accept the reality: In this age of digital cameras and smartphones with getting-better-by-the-day lens quality, who needs a camera that prints photos? Roll-film cameras—popular until the 1990s—died a quick death with the advent of the digital camera. The reason was obvious—you could click a limited number of photos on roll-film cameras and then wait for these to develop, while the possibilities were endless with digital cameras. Along with roll-film cameras, what also died, albeit slowly, was the culture of photo albums. Today photo albums only record special occasions, such as wedding memories.
However, cameras that print photos on the spot—also sometimes called Polaroid cameras—have been able to withstand this digital onslaught, to a limited extent though. The reasons could be that such cameras are a welcome change for photographers, kids love them, and once in a while you might want to ‘hold’ the photo you click. One of the best in business, and surprisingly so, is Fujifilm Instax Wide 300.
The Instax Wide 300 is a big camera—it measures 167.8 mm x 94.7 mm x 120.9 mm (not including protrusions) and weighs a good 612 gm (without battery, strap, film pack and close up lens). The instrumentation is basic—it features an optical viewfinder, a prime lens and a big handgrip with the shutter release at its top—so even a person having no prior experience in photography can easily use it. It is powered by four AA batteries and uses the Instax Wide film format.
Operating the camera is simple: Insert the film pack (it contains 10 films), switch on the camera, look into the viewfinder, take aim and press the shutter. Immediately the film pops out from the top and in about 5 minutes the picture gradually appears. No, you don’t have to ‘shake’ the film for the photograph to start showing! The film size is a decent 86 mm x 108 mm. The picture quality is such that it captures everybody’s expressions clearly—so the camera is perfect for parties, weddings and other such events. In fact, the physical prints that finally develop are fine quality. You also get a close-up lens for shots up to 40 cm from the subject. Then there is the automatic flash for low-light shooting and exposure compensation (lighten-darken control) which enables you to get just the right frame.
However, people used to the world of digital photography may have to exercise restraint operating the Instax Wide 300. One film pack contains 10 films and there is a cost attached to it, so if you are shooting just for fun, the Instax Wide 300 is not the right choice. Ten quick clicks for fun and the film pack is finished, as simple as that.
The film is only offered in colour, so for people who appreciate the option of clicking in black and white, this can be an issue.
Because it is big and because it has to print, the camera uses four AA batteries—this means if you are using the camera on a regular basis, you might have to keep extra batteries handy.
The Instax Wide 300 provides the same satisfaction that comes from using a digital camera, and you don’t need to take the film to a lab or a darkroom for developing it. For Rs 9,500, the Instax Wide 300 is good value too. Buy it only if you want to print photos once in a while.