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I still remember the first time I saw one of the modern instant cameras. I was on a Caribbean cruise with my friend Marissa, and spotted one in the on-ship gift shop. Through the whole cruise, I deliberate – duty-free! – before deciding to wait a few weeks and ask for one for my birthday. Once cash gifts had arrived, I bought that same camera I had admired: the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 in black. I immediately took it on another trip, aboard Uncruise in Alaska.
Fast forward several years, and Mr. V and I are on the first day of our road trip honeymoon this past summer. Standing in Target, I decided to splurge. I had forgotten my Fujifilm at home, so I grabbed the alternative: the Polaroid Now. Following our trip, I wrote a review of the Polaroid Now that has since become popular in helping people decide whether or not to invest in the camera.
In that review, I also mentioned I planned to do a photo shoot-off comparing my two instant cameras: the Polaroid Now vs the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90. In the months since, I’ve taken both cameras on a few short trips and done some comparison shots. Adding that to my previous experiences with both cameras, I’m ready to write a post that compares them.
If you’re trying to decide between the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 and the Polaroid Now, read on. By the end, you’ll know which one I recommend, and the strengths of each.
Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 vs Polaroid Now Comparison
I’ll dive into each of the criteria for this review in greater detail in the rest of this comparison post. But if you want a snapshot of my review and which camera I think wins the different criteria, take a look at this table.
|Criteria||Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90||Polaroid Now||Winner (Brand)|
|Dimensions||4.5 x 3.6 x 2.3″||3.7 x 4.42 x 5.91″||Draw|
|Ease of Use||Cumbersome settings buttons and smaller size||Unintuitive design that can cause missed shots||Draw|
|Film Price||$0.67 per shot||$2.00 per shot||Fujifilm|
|Photo Size||62mm x 46mm||79mm x 77mm||Polaroid|
|Film Quality||Clear and color-true||Inconsistent||Fujifilm|
There are obviously other important criteria for choosing a camera that you may care about, but these were the most important ones to me and ones I think make the biggest impact on your experience of shooting and being happy with your instant photos in the end.
Camera Body & Style
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for classic cameras. Likely you are too, if you’re trying to choose between the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 and the Polaroid Now. Both have a throwback style – though the Polaroid Now is actually the most modern design of their four modern instant cameras. Compared to the other Fujifilm InstaX models, the Mini 90 looks like a Studebaker compared to the Mini 11 or LiPlay’s Tesla-esque designs. They did call it the “Neo Classic” for a reason.
That said, there are significant differences between the two cameras, as you can see above. The Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 is more of a flat rectangle at roughly 4.5 x 3.6 x 2.3″. Compare that to the 3.7 x 4.42 x 5.91″ more cubed shape of the Polaroid Now.
I personally find the Polaroid Now easier to hold in my hands than the smaller Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90. But as you’ll read below, I find the Polaroid much more cumbersome to physically shoot with.
Winner: Draw – This one will come down to personal preference.
Ease of Camera Use
In trying to choose which camera I recommend in terms of ease of use, it’s again a draw.
As I mentioned, I find the Polaroid Now much easier to hold and manipulate, but I have a chronic issue finding the viewfinder with my eye and the shutter button. Seriously, I can’t tell you how often I’ve tried to take a photo by pressing the flash.
I don’t have the same issues with the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90, the other hand. Basic shooting with the camera feels intuitive. What’s not intuitive are all the settings; even after years of owning the camera, I still have to google the camera manual if I think I might need a setting to improve my shot (or I take a bad shot and want to try again using a different setting).
At the end of the day, instant cameras are mostly a matter of “point-and-shoot” style photography. If you remove my constant confusion with Fuji’s buttons and symbols, I personally prefer it for shooting.
Winner: Draw – Your mileage may vary, but they both have strengths and drawbacks.
In comparing prices for Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 vs Polaroid Now, there are two prices to consider: the body and the film. This is another old school thing some people really appreciate – remember when all cameras required film?! And you had to pay to get it developed too, if you weren’t shooting with an instant camera.
The Polaroid Now and Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 are comparable in price; the Polaroid Now has a $10 advantage at the time of writing this post. You can currently find them for:
- Polaroid Now: $99.99 on Polaroid and Amazon
- Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90: Varies by seller but in the ballpark of $109.95 on Amazon (price may differ at your time of purchase)
If the price of the body is your primary consideration, the Polaroid Now is the winner – but these instant cameras are nothing without their film, so consider that cost too! (More on that below)
Winner: Polaroid Now – By about $10.
Breaking down film cost is an important part of any instant camera; it won’t do any good to save on the body but be unable to afford film!
Here, the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 has a clear advantage. Fujifilm sells twin packs of 10 shots per pack for roughly $13-$14. Each shot therefore prices in around $0.67 per shot, though there are small discounts if you purchase more than one twin-pack of film at a time.
Polaroid Now film, on the other hand, costs an arm and leg in comparison. A single pack of i-Type film, which contains 8 shots, costs $15.99 on the Polaroid site (and elsewhere). That’s roughly $2.00 per shot, a substantial difference. Let’s just say that the photos aren’t 2x bigger or better (as you’ll soon read), so I’m definitely not a fan of the Polaroid Now film cost.
Tying into the section above about body cost, you are more than going to save the $10 difference between the Polaroid Now body and Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 body over the lifetime of your camera. Instead, choose the one you prefer based on criteria other than the camera body cost.
Winner: Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 – By about 300% (savings per shot!).
If having bigger photos is important to you, then comparing these two cameras on photo size is a critical issue.
The Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 has small photos, at just 62mm x 46mm (not including the white frame). They definitely feel small when you hold them for the first time!
Polaroid Now photos, or the other hand, are the same dimensions as classic Polaroid photos were at roughly 79mm x 77mm (not including the white frame). They are definitely hefty and offer a big enough field of view to capture your attention.
Winner: Polaroid Now – There are other Fujifilm models that offer bigger/square photos if that’s your main criteria for choosing between the two.
I’ve already mentioned in my Polaroid Now review that I was deeply disappointed with the inconsistency in photo quality for photos I shot on that camera. While some photos came out really nicely, there were random issues that plagued many of the others – from light leaks to what appears to be film damage to poor color. (Read my full review with tons of examples here.)
Some people might find those issues endearing or “vintage,” I personally don’t want to pay as much per frame for the roulette of not knowing if my photo will turn out well.
In comparison, the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 has great quality and consistency, as you can see from the photos in this section. Photos are crisp, blacks are true, and the only times my photos haven’t turned out are when I get the settings wrong or don’t shoot at the appropriate distance for the focus.
Winner: Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 – By miles.
If you can’t tell by this point, my personal preference is for the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90. By my table above and counting each camera’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s technically a draw – which is probably why so many people wonder which one to choose.
In the end, the number one criteria for me is not film size, price, or ease of use; it’s that the photos I take turn out the way I expect unless I make a mistake. I don’t need a camera that takes creative liberties with my shots due to inconsistent film issues, like the Polaroid Now does.
If you’re ready to decide, here are links that will allow you to purchase each one. You know which one I would vote for you to choose!
Have any other questions about the Fujifilm InstaX Mini 90 vs the Polaroid Now? Let me know in the comments!