Are Polaroids a thing of the past in our world of fancy full frame digital sensors? They are to most but to a select few shooting analog film is the only medium that will let them fully express their creativity. Instant photography has made a radical come back in the digital age with new lomography cameras, pin hole holga / diana kits and the ever refreshing revival of the 600 type polaroid film from "The impossible project". They sought out to reproduce an iconic film type that would be able to feed the film hungry enthusiasts out there still shooting their vintage instant photography cameras. Among the various camera bodies that will accept instant film; Fujifilm came out with the Instax line which was meant to convey a simplistic and pure shooting experience to its customers.
Enter the Instax 90 Neo Classic. Styled in a two tone fashion with leather center wrap; the 90 neo classic gave the consumer all the manual controls you could ever need for an instant film camera. The neo classic feels right at home even next to a Leica M rangefinder with simple controls, classic design and intuitive functionality. We asked polaroid shooter Jessica Retuerto what it was like to shoot her Fujifilm Instax 90 Neo Classic:
How did you find out about the fujifilm Instax mini 90 neo Classic? I actually found out about it from my cousin Alex. He came to visit us for the holidays last year and decided to bring his cameras to document his bonding time with us. He's an avid photographer out in the west coast so he has his main camera and then there is the 90 neo Classic which is his fun camera. The second I saw it, I was like "Whoa! What is that? Come here! Take a picture of me!"
Why do you prefer the 90 neo Classic instead of all the Polaroid cameras out there? Okay so I did a bit of research on what kind of Polaroid camera I wanted. If I had the money I would have gotten the Mamiya rb67 polaroid back - but that meant dropping a lot of cash. So what was in my price range and would be fun and a learning experience for a beginner like me was the 90 Neo Classic. I looked at other Fujifilm instax cameras but they were too child oriented. It didn't look like it was easy to hold or handle. The shapes were too bubbly, and they didn't have as many capabilities like the 90 Neo Classic did.... plus I liked the sleek, clean and polished proportions of the very functional 90 Neo Classic.
What tips can you give on shooting with the proper exposure? The more sun/natural light there is, the better.
What are your favorite aspects of the camera? My favorite part of the camera is that you can actually tweak how the pictures come out with the mode and exposure controls. There are a variety of shooting modes like landscape, macro, and kids mode. Kids mode helps a lot when I'm taking a picture of my very active nieces and nephews. Landscape mode helps when I travel and want to take a picture of panoramic views. I'm also enjoying how to learn the sensitivity of shutter speed to bulb exposure, and the distortion of double exposure. Also if it's too dark or too light, the camera lets me compensate for that.
One word to describe instant photography? Magic. It's great how I can take a picture of you right then and there, and to have it develop in my hand without having to use a darkroom, or chemicals, also I don't have to wait an hour to see it in all it's amazing-ness. It's like voila - magic!
How do people tend to react when they find out you're shooting a Polaroid? People get really surprised when I whip out my camera. They start to "ooh" and "whoa" because the last time they saw a polaroid was when they were kids. The most common phrase I hear is, "I didn't know they still make these!" followed by "Take a pictures of me!" Some people have never seen these types of cameras at all. I tried explaining my camera to TSA security guards in other countries and I realized they had no idea what I was talking about until I took a picture of them.
What's the greatest joy you get from your camera?
My greatest joy is giving the polaroid away. During my trip to Machu Picchu this past May, I brought my 90 Neo Classic along. After we were done with the tour I decided to take pictures of the rangers and then give them their polaroid. I thought about it - well, why not? These people have one of the best jobs in the world by working at the National Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu. Why not give them something that captures the moment right then and there? Machu Picchu is a masterpiece of architecture and it's a great photo op, so yeah why not. More often than not they chose to pose right where you see Machu Picchu with Huaynapicchu lurking in the background. They were amazed by how quickly it developed and then hung the polaroid next to their badge with pride. I felt happy giving them this instant photos. I also took pictures of families and couples. A lot of them asked "how much?" and when I said it was for free they were very surprised. It was very joyful for me because I was able to capture this moment for them without making them wait too long. Also made a great conversation starter and I met a lot of great people who shared their memories with me.
Would you recommend this to beginners or people who want to start shooting Polaroid?
Yes! I would. It's such a great camera to use and it is one of the best in my opinion. It is a learning experience in the beginning and you will waste a couple of sheets of film trying to get used to taking pictures without having the convenience of a display screen to double check if it's exposed correctly. It does have a great viewfinder which is a plus and it's sturdy when you hold it but that doesn't mean you can throw around! It's easy to change modes on the camera because the buttons aren't too small that you're fumbling around with it. Also the images come out detailed and the color is very accurate as well.
Instax film has become more expensive recently, do you think it's worth the investment to still shoot film in this day and age? Yes, I do actually. If you have the financial means of course. Photography is one of the most expensive hobbies to have. You're either upgrading various components of your camera or - depending if you use a film camera - you are spending a lot of money on film and developing it - UNLESS you have your very own dark room (my dream). What I tend to do is I buy the instax film in bulk. I usually have around 8 or so cartridges (each one has 10 sheets) stored in the appropriate temperature and away from sunlight. Whenever I see a store having a promotion on the film I buy it again in bulk. It's my hobby. It makes me happy and it makes other people happy as well so yes I do see it as an investment.
Now let's see the camera in action! but first we're gonna need more film...
And there it is! Simple and straight forward just wait for the film cover to slide out and you're ready to shoot!
Some of Jessica's photos taken on the 90 Neo Classic:
Follow Jessica in all of her 90 neo classic adventures through her instagram
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