Review of Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

which combines all the bells and whistles of a classic digital camera with the novelty of an instant camera.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo priced at R2600 combines classic instant photography and modern digital tech into one package, relying on a digital sensor to snap photos but letting you print images onto Instax Mini film. The camera marries the charm of modern analogs like the Instax Mini 11 with the trappings of digital imaging, with filter effects and color looks, plus the ability to print only the photos you choose. It’s a fantastic idea, and one that can make point-and-shoots a little more relevant in the era of smartphones.

Design and Screen

  • Retro design looks great
  • 3-inch rear display looks fine, but struggles in bright conditions
  • Plenty of manual dials and buttons to explore

The newer mini EVO is made to look just like an old-fashioned film camera, with a silver and black design that includes a lot of faux leather. The textured plastic doesn’t feel tacky and it’s still lightweight enough for you to chuck in your bag for the day without weighing you down. It’s also discreet, so it doesn’t scream “instant camera” when you whip it out in public.

There are a lot of similarities between this and the Instax Mini LiPlay when it comes to the menus and interface, which is a bit simpler but also blends digital and instant photography. The Mini Evo repurposes familiar controls to make things all the more intuitive to use.

If you have used a film camera before, you will recognize the position of the film advance lever on the back right of the body. Here, the Mini Evo uses that same lever as a way to print the picture in preview on the screen. Around the back of the Mini Evo is a 3-inch LCD screen for viewing photos before they’re printed, alongside a directional pad for navigation and three buttons. On the top, you’ll find another shutter button, a dial that lets you easily flip through filter presets without faffing about with menus, and – one of my personal favorite additions to this camera – a physical lever you pull to print out a snap. The latter is such a brilliant touch that adds some tactility to the printing process.

Since this is an instant camera, the EVO INSTAX mini cartridges sit beneath the screen and it tucks away neatly. The cartridges contain ten prints, each containing the chemicals required to develop the picture. Fujifilm normally sells mini cartridges in twin packs for around  R150, working out at about R15 per print. Unlike an analog INSTAX, the EVO lets you choose which photos will be printed.

INSTAX Mini prints are roughly the size of a credit card, with the actual picture measuring 2.4×1.8in or 62x48mm, leaving a border around the edges that’s a little thicker on one side for writing a note or caption. Fujifilm sells cartridges with different border effects, with the latest being stone grey.


  • Connect Smartphone via Bluetooth
  • Charging via Micro-USB
  • Filter and Lens Options

When taking a picture there are multiple filter and lens options, with a quick twist of the focus ring you can toggle between ten “lens effects” such as fisheye, soft focus, and double exposure. The rear control dial allows you to change between ten “film effects” like sepia, monochrome, or “retro”. As with any kind of filter, the results are very much down to personal taste. Once a photo is taken, you then have the opportunity to preview to ensure it is up to standard before printing it out. You can also print shots you’ve already taken at a later time if you run out of paper during the process.

The printing process itself is quick and straightforward. Take a shot, check the quality, and then pull the lever to set off printing. A nice little animation appears on-screen and about 20 seconds later, the picture pops out and starts to develop.

The Mini Evo charges via micro-USB, which is a bit of shame when USB-C has become common across nearly all tech. A full charge took just over 2 hours – which will allow the camera to capture approximately 100 shots. Of course, start printing them out and you’ll drain the cell much quicker.

The alternative way Mini Evo provides to access certain images or to use the camera as a wireless printer is to connect it to your phone over Bluetooth using the INSTAX mini EVO app for iOS or Android.

The app has three main sections.

  • The first, Direct Print, allows you to choose any image on your phone, perform some basic edits if desired, then wirelessly send it to the camera for printing. Like other INSTAX printers, this means you can enjoy instant prints taken with any camera so long as they’re accessible on your phone. Long exposures, night landscapes, super-telephotos – all possible.
  • The second option is Remote Shooting which can send a live image from the camera to your phone’s screen where you can view it and trigger the exposure remotely. Since this is happening over modest Bluetooth links, there will be some lag and the maximum distance will only be a few meters, but it really works and allows more accurate – not to mention distant – selfies or group shots than using the mirror on the front of the camera. Handy!
  • The third option is Transferred Images, which lets you copy images from the camera into your phone for sharing or storage. There is however a catch: the app will only let you copy images that have already been printed. These are selected using the Printed Image Transfer option in the camera’s playback menus. Unfortunately, you can’t freely access the SD card or internal memory via the app to copy any image you like, and there’s no cabled access with the camera’s USB port either. This is obviously to encourage printing, but it’s an annoying limitation. If you simply want to share or store your unprinted digital images, you’ll need to remove the SD card and pop it into a USB card reader instead, and again if you’ve been using the internal memory, you’ll need to copy the images onto an SD card using the playback menus first.

Image Quality

  • Images display good saturation and a pleasing, retro look
  • Low-light performance isn’t great
  • Uses Instax Mini film

There is an element of fun to the Instax Mini Evo but it’s not without a couple of drawbacks. It’s great that you can throw in a microSD card and keep any image files you’ve shot, but don’t expect these to all be keepers. You’ll get somewhat low-resolution 2,560 x 1,920 files that aren’t going to impress compared to what’s coming out of any of the latest mobile phones.

Something that looks good printed on tiny 5.4 x 8.6cm Instax Mini film may not look as good in full resolution on your laptop, but they’re decent enough to post on your Instagram feed. If Fujifilm had put a better sensor in this little body, we can only dream of how good it could be…

Once you get past the hybrid nature of the Mini Evo, the actual images it produces are fairly standard instant-fare, on a par with other Instax Mini cameras.

Images are decent, with punchy colors and sufficient detail considering their small size. Importantly, the photos are charming and fun. This camera is never going to rival the images captured on one of the best camera phones –heck, I doubt you’ll be able to buy an Android phone that takes worse photos – but that really is beside the point.

Particularly dark and bright points don’t tend to come out too well, but learning what looks good (and what doesn’t) is all part of the experience when using such a camera.

In conclusion

The mini EVO is a digital instant camera is not Fujifilm’s first instant camera to employ a digital sensor and screen to preview and adjust shots before then choosing if they’re worth printing, but it is their most fun to date. The key is the user interface with up to 100 filter and effect combinations that are adjusted with tactile dials before a twist of a lever satisfyingly prepare it for output. It also works as a wireless printer for your phone.

On the downside, the actual digital images won’t match a modern smartphone and there’s a restriction that only lets you wirelessly copy images to your phone which have already been printed, but you can at least access them directly from the SD card if desired. If you want the cheapest instant camera, stick with an analog mini 11. If you want instant prints of the best quality photos, the sensible choice is to buy a wireless printer for your phone instead, and models like Fujifilm’s own mini LINK are cheaper than the EVO too. But instant cameras have rarely been about making the sensible choice. I was initially skeptical over the EVO’s digital predictability but was quickly won over by the effects and physical controls.






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