Makes square instant photos. 3.6MP digital image sensor. Bright f/2.4 lens. 28.5mm wide-angle field of view. In-camera filters and editing tools. Doubles as a photo printer.
Phone-sized image sensor may limit image quality. More expensive than purely analog instant cameras.
- Bottom Line
The Instax Square SQ10 is a new type of instant camera, blending digital capture with true analog film output—all in a classic, square image format.
By Jim Fisher
Fujifilm teased its new square Instax film format last year at Photokina, and now it's providing details about the new film and the first camera to support it, the Instax Square SQ10 ($279.95). In a departure from other Instax models, the SQ10 captures images digitally, allowing you to edit photos and apply filters before making a print. We've seen similar tech in cameras like the Polaroid Snap Touch, but the SQ10 is the first to do so with a true chemical film process. We're intrigued to see how it performs in the real world when it comes out in May. The big question mark is image quality, as the SQ10 features a relatively tiny image sensor, one that's smaller than you'll find in a flagship smartphone.
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The SQ10 is a squarish camera, finished in black with silver accents. We don't have dimensions or weight at this time, but it looks like it's too big to fit into a pocket, but can be easily held in the hand. The power switch surrounds the lens, and there's a recessed circle running along the face that acts as a thumb rest.
There are two shutter buttons, so you can use the camera comfortably whether you're right- or left-handed, and comfortably hold it with either arm when shooting selfies. Also on the front is an integrated flash and ambient light sensor. An Auto/Manual switch sits on the side.
Controls are on the rear are arranged in a circle and include exposure adjustment, play, and a print button. There's also a Menu/OK option at the center of the ring of buttons, with a combination four-way control and control wheel in between. The bottom features a standard tripod mount.
The 3-inch, 460k-dot LCD sits above the rear controls. It's the only way to frame shots—there's no optical viewfinder, like you get with other Instax cameras. This helps keep the size down, but takes away some of the old-school charm, like you get with the Instax Mini 70.
The camera uses Instax Square film ($16.99 per 10-pack), which has an image area that's about 2.4 inches (62mm) on each side, surrounded by a white border. With the border, photos are 3.4 by 2.8 inches (HW). There are a number of in-camera filters available, so even though Instax Square is a color film format, you can print in black-and-white. There are also in-camera filters to adjust color, add a vignette, or create a collage to put multiple images on one print. In-camera double exposure is also supported.
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The SQ10 is powered by a removable rechargeable battery. It's good for about 160 shots per charge, and can be recharged in-camera via its micro USB port.
We haven't yet shot with the SQ10, but we do know a bit about its image sensor. It's 0.25-inch, roughly half the surface area you'll find in the sensor in an iPhone 7. It's also fairly low resolution, capturing square 3.6MP (1,920 by 1,920) photos in JPG format.
The camera sports a modest amount of internal memory, enough to store about 50 shots. It also has a microSD slot, so you can shoot more images before offloading them to a computer.
The tiny lens covers a field of view roughly equivalent to a 28.5mm full-frame optic, about the same field of view as you get with an iPhone, with an f/2.4 aperture. It does offer some advantages over Fujifilm's Instax Mini line, which typically use f/8 lenses with a slightly tighter field of view. One is close focus—the SQ10 focuses as close as 3.9 inches (10cm). The other is the aperture—its f/2.4 design is about eight times brighter than an f/8 lens. You can thank the small sensor for both of these aspects—pure film Instax cameras have to cover a large negative, which limits close focus and requires a lot more light, so they're noticeably bigger.
The SQ10 doubles as a photo printer—you can shoot images with your SLR, load JPGs onto a microSD card, load it into the SQ10, and make them into a classic, square-format instant image. In that way it mirrors the feature set of the Instax Share SP-2, minus the wireless capabilities, but with a finished print that's almost twice as big.
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 is a new type of camera for Fujfilm, blurring the lines between its popular instant film series with digital capture. The big question mark is how much image quality we can expect from a tiny image sensor and lens, even in a modest 2.4-inch square print.
That concern is somewhat ameliorated by the camera's ability to print any JPG image from microSD—you can capture a stunning photo with your SLR, copy it over to a memory card, and turn it into a classic square instant print. Check back for test results and final thoughts after we've had a chance to shoot with the SQ10 when it comes out in May.
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By Jim Fisher Senior Analyst, Digital Cameras
Senior digital camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H Photo, where he wrote thousands upon thousands of product descriptions, blog posts, and reviews. Since then he's shot with hundreds of camera models, ranging from pocket point-and-shoots to medium format… More »
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