Instant film has long been beloved by photographers and average Joes for a reason, you get instant results and can share them with others within minutes of taking a shot. And that is why you need a Lomo’Instant Automat, it’s just too much fun to pass up! Read on to find out why from Lomographer alienmeatsack.
When Fujifilm first released their Instax series of cameras, the Mini format and limited set of features/ functionality in the cameras was a hindrance but people loved it just the same. At this time, Lomography had not entered into the Instax game with their own full camera, just backs for other cameras. Somehow, I knew that Lomography was going to get in on this new world of instant photography, I just had to wait. Patiently, we waited.
Then as time passed, FujiFilm upped their game with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. It was sexy, fun to use, offered way more power than the simple cameras that had preceded it. But, Lomography had something to say about that, and released their first in a series of their own Instax cameras, the Lomo'Instant. It was of course an instant hit with the Lomography crowd. Being their first foray into a full instant camera world, they put their heart and soul into it. But Lomography was not content with just setting the bar, they upped it when they released the Lomo'Instant Automat, a follow-up to their highly successful Lomo'Instant Wide. The Automat used the fun and affordable Instax Mini film, just like the previous Lomo’Instant did, only this time, the camera did so much more.
I joined in the Kickstarter campaign when it was announced and awaited my Automat's arrival with baited breath. When mine arrived, I was not sure what to expect. I had been using the Neo 90 for a while, loved it, but didn't truly deeply love it. Then I opened the box, took it out and started using my Lomo'Instant Automat. And that was when I knew Lomography had just laid down their cards and put out one heck of an Instax Mini camera. I was in love, and have been ever since.
So, after having run some packs of film, 6-8 to be exact, through it in light, dark, sunny and otherwise lit scenery, I offer up a few tips and hints to get the best experience out of your Automat.
1. Remember that Instax Mini film is ISO 800. So, you are working with a faster film in sunny environments. Keep this in mind as the sunnier shots will end up blown out if you don't watch where you aim the camera. I suggest keeping the sun directly out of the shots unless you intend on blowing out the shot a little (or a lot). The Automat has two apertures, f/8 and f/22. Which means in bright sun, the shutter speed should technically be 1/800th of a second for proper exposure at f/16, but its shutter only goes to 1/250th. Remember this and control your shots while the sunny f/16 rule floats in your head. And do yourself a favor and pick up a 43mm threaded ND filter that's 1-2x stops of filtering. It will come in handy on a sunny day, trust me on this.
2. Use that remote-control lens cap! It's brilliant, easy to use, and its right there on the camera, so using it is just like putting on gloves. You do it because it’s what you do when you have a remote to control your camera. The lens cap offers standard shooting as well as bulb mode shooting, so you can put your camera on a tripod and do longer exposures without moving the camera, or snap a selfie further away. The camera even fits into most selfie-sticks so you can take photos further away using the lens cap remote control!
3. Turn off the flash if it's sunny outside. Unless you need a fill light when shooting in the sun, the flash does little for you and uses battery. Keeping it off means more shots and less flash glare. If you want fill light carry a small reflector with you, they are cheap and can fold up and fit into a camera bag or even your pocket. You don't need much, a silver or gold reflector and aim its light. Even a piece of white paper will do the trick in a pinch.
4. Learn the viewfinder. Note that little extra line in the viewfinder to the left and keep in mind it is for framing images shot at the closest focus zone. Remember that when shooting up close and ignore it when shooting groups or infinity. And when shooting anything else, remember that the VF IS your shot and to try to lineup your shots using it fully.
5. Focus isn't everything. Between the varied apertures and the nature of Lomography cameras, sometimes being a little out of focus is just what you want in a shot. The 3 zones offered are just a guide, let your shots be the definition of what zone works best for you. Don't be afraid to set it to the closest setting and get right into the subject be it a tree or someone's face. You will be rewarded for your experimentation. And if you aren't happy with the results, make a change and try again. You'll get to see the results in a few minutes and can correct easily from there. Same goes with the infinity focus setting, don't be afraid to use it or use the group setting for an infinity distance shot if the subject is partly in the zone.
6. In darker shots or shots with more dark then light, use the exposure control and add a stop of light to your shots. The flash just blows out closer images, but by adding a stop of light, you get a little brighter image. And since the cameras sensor is going to average the dark vs the light, you may end up with a dark shot when you meant for a light one.
7. Keep your eye on the super handy LED film counter on the side. It will remind you how many shots are left so you don't end up taking a brilliant photo onto nothing. The inclusion of this simple and yet useful feature is one of the many reasons that the Lomo'Instant Automat should be part of your collection.
8. Stock up on Instax Mini color and Monochrome film, you are going to use a lot of it with this camera. And you will do so willingly because every shot that comes out is a piece of art. The camera guarantees that you will get a good shot with its sensor and ease of use.
9. Keep your fingers clear of the sensors on the front when pressing the shutter button. Even slightly shading them can cause the camera to misjudge the light around it and under or over expose a shot. It's easy to put your hand there when aiming the camera, so be mindful of this.
10. Don't follow any of my rules because Lomography is all about tossing the rules out the window. And the Automat does the work for you, so let go and shoot and look at what you get afterwards.
And finally, use that MX Switch. When pressed, you can snap away until you've either blown out your shots or created a masterpiece and to finish, just hit the MX switch again and out pops your magical works.
Everyone has their own style; this camera offers just the right amount of convenience and functionality to let your style shine through. So, let it. Don't fight it, it wants to help you take the best photos you can. And the simplicity it brings affords you the experience of thinking less and shooting more.
I am quite impressed with the Automat, it's beautiful, very designed, has features that rival competitor’s cameras, and it has that signature Lomographic feel to every shot. And that is why this is an Instax camera you should have in your collection. It makes taking instant photos fun, and makes it so simple that anyone could do it. And the pros, well, they will love it too because it lets them get more technical and play around. If this were baseball, I'd call the Lomo'Instant Automat a home run where the ball hits the lights and they explode in a glorious display. And the shots you take will reflect that as well.
But don't take my word for it, pick one up for yourself and see why everyone is loving the Automat. It's the new standard for Instax cameras and puts most of the others to shame.