OK, let's get the gushing out of the way early, I suspect this may be the best instant camera currently on the market. To back this ridiculous statement up, I should note I have shot with a number of instant cameras, including Polaroids, the Impossible I-1, a Fuji Instax Neo Classic, and an LC-A with an instant back. Right then...why? Well, number one it is sharp - despite the shitty scans I've never shot with a sharper Instax camera. This seems to finally be the answer to the question - is the film crap or is it the lens. Compare these shots to those from my Instax Neo Classic (Mini 90) in both colour and black & white and you'll see a definite improvement in image quality.
It vignettes, sometimes a little sometimes a little bit more - either way this is really a good thing, particularly when combined with the lovely slightly sharper lens. Oh, I guess I should mention the lens is nice and wide (21mm equivalent in 35mm according to Lomography) - this is also a good thing.
This focal length does ensure that you can set the camera to 1m and everything from there onwards will be in focus. Again, this shot looks significantly better in the flesh than scanned but I guess we'll just have to live with that.
Of course, when you focus close you get some kind of delicious out of focus stuff...well it seems OK to me at least. The shot on the left was made using the supplied close-up lens, the one on the right wasn't. I prefer the one on the right.
The lens also flares a little, and sometimes a lot. The character of the flare varies from little spots all the way through to a full on ring of bright water (well bright flare) across the image. This character works equally well with black & white and colour film.
The flash also seems to work pretty well, and doesn't seem to overexpose (although I should confess I have taped over the flash to cut it down a little). The above shot was taken at 30cm and doesn't seem to show any sign of overexposure.
The general impression I have is that the metering is really good...
...although like all Instax cameras, there comes a point when the film will always overexpose. I have also found myself occasionally putting my big fat thumbs over the metering window on the camera when shooting horizontally - this is definitely something to watch for.
Its also worth noting that the framing isn't very precise, you need to pay attention to where the lens is pointing or you'll end up with framing that is not quite right. This is actually more apparent when shooting horizontally, but somehow more difficult to spot in the resulting image.
Finally, the camera can even help you make a pretty decent image at night. All you need is the remote lens cap...and perhaps set the exposure compensation to the darker side of things.
All in all, I am actually completely smitten with this camera, the build quality is a significant step up from the Lomo Instant Wide, and the results are awesome. Anyone want to buy a Fuji Instax Mini Neo Classic or an Impossible I-1?