Fujifilm shows instant film cameras are hardly dead

The only major company still making them is expanding its lineup and expects a boom for old-school snapshots.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 23, 2013 12:22PM

Fujifilm's Instax mini 90 Neo Classic camera (© Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)Nostalgia for authenticity is leading to an unusual boom in the photography market: the return of the Polaroid-like instant camera. 

Fujifilm (FUJIY), the only major company still making the devices, is rolling out a high-end model amid growing demand for its devices, notes The Wall Street Journal.

The Mini 90 Neoclassic camera will include more advanced features than Fujifilm's more basic models, including 10-second exposures and faster shutter speeds. It will go on sale on Sept. 20 and sell for about $210, The Journal said. 

Fujifilm is projecting sales of instant cameras will rise by 25% in the 12-month period ending in March and by 20% in the year after that. 

"People crave something real, a physical object that is unique and that you can hold in your hand," Fujifilm executive Masato Yamamoto told the publication. "Film yields an authenticity that is often missing in a digital world."

It's a startling turnaround for a small corner of film-based photography, which has been decimated by the growing popularity of digital cameras and smartphones. 

Polaroid, whose founder Edwin Land invented the product, filed for bankruptcy in 2001, while Eastman Kodak (EKDKQ) is expecting to exit bankruptcy on Sept. 3. Both companies once dominated the film-based photography market, but they lost market share and customers with the advent of digital technology. 

Kodak is getting out of the consumer business and will instead focus on commercial printing. But Polaroid has reemerged with new products, such as an instant mobile printer for digital cameras and instant cameras that resemble the popular clunky devices of the 1970s and 1980s. 

And it's not only Gen Xers and baby boomers who are snapping up instant cameras. Urban Outfitters (URBN), which targets teens and college-age students, sells Fuji's Instax Camera. 

"I love Polaroids and the effect and sort of retro feel of them," one reviewer wrote on Urban Outfitter's site. She added a tip familiar to anyone who grew up with one of the devices: "Do not put your fingers on the Polaroid while it's drying!"

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Aug 23, 2013 2:32PM
Recently, my wife and I went to Africa. We took along an old Polaroid, and used it to snap pictures of the locals, and gave them the prints. Many of them had never seen a picture of themselves.
Aug 23, 2013 1:16PM
Aug 23, 2013 1:16PM
Glad to see these are still being made!
Aug 23, 2013 1:37PM
Where do you find affordable film though?
Aug 23, 2013 2:19PM

Yes, just like my Brownie Camera that still works and that I still use as writing letters (Cursive) and licking stamps and taking them to my favorite Post Office and yes I can't forget my 6-party land line phone.   l also love my new Ford Fusion with a three speed manuel on the Colume I order special.


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh , the good old days.  Never  wanted all this high tech and NSA .

Aug 23, 2013 2:03PM
Until just Now I was un aware they even made them Hell when I came home from Iraq I had rolls of undeveloped film and finding a place that does not look at you like you are crazy and from another planet to develop them was no easy task what happen to Wal-Mart and Walgreens developing film. That all said this is cool to hear I hope they will do more advertising and tell people where to get the film for the camera as well.
Aug 23, 2013 3:46PM
The real reason people liked Polaroids is because they liked waving the picture about in the air as it developed.
Aug 23, 2013 3:04PM

I have a Polaroid 660 series camera, but I cannot get any film for it.  My great grandchildren are fascinated when they take a picture and watch it develop before their eyes.  It takes a much better picture than my digital one.  Where can I get film? 

Aug 23, 2013 2:54PM

I still have several old polaroid cameras including one of the very very old ones. Do they make film that works in them?


Aug 23, 2013 5:43PM

Over the weekend my six year old daughter attended a birthday party that had a magician. The magician got the kids together and told them they would take a magical picture. The magic would only work if the kids really concentrated on how they look. The magician then took a Polaroid camera and took a picture of the kids. While it was developing, he told the kids to close their eyes and think again about what they looked like. When the kids opened their eyes and saw the picture, they were completely amazed. It was hilarious! The kids were entranced because they had never seen a

 " magical camera" like it before. You've got to love instant cameras!

Aug 23, 2013 5:28PM
Good to hear!...I use only Nikon film SLR's...have my own darkroom in the basement..develop and print my own TriX.  I can still find film, paper and chemicals at the local photo store and online.  I hope film comes back. It  is far superior to digital imho.
Aug 23, 2013 2:17PM
I mean, hipsters need a camera, right?
Aug 23, 2013 2:52PM
The bedroom camera is back!  CAN'T TWEET THAT!  Remember the scene in The Man Who Fell to Earth with the instant camera color photos on the film reel itself?  I still want one of those!
Aug 23, 2013 4:49PM
The Impossible Project,a firm in the Netherlands bouhgt Polaroids mfg.equiment and is currently producing film for 600 series cameras. I'm excitied about using their 8x10 film in my old Deardorff.
Aug 23, 2013 3:05PM
I love instant cameras. The government can't invade your instant camera and get a gander of your pics.You can always order a CD of the whole roll. I keep one in the glove box.
Aug 23, 2013 9:51PM

I recently finished converting (scanning) over 3000 35mm slides my father took, from about 1940 to 1990, to digital.  I have a semi-pro slide scanner.  Now, I have to view and color-correct a lot of color fading (mostly blue tones). 


My father was good about writing the dates (or at least the year) and the subject on the slide mounts.  When done color-correcting them, I will burn them to a DVD disk, indexed with a menu by years. 


I had to laugh, while scanning, I came across a slide of me at 4 years old, with a chicken sitting on my head? 


I'm just trying to preserve history in my family, but anyone can do this?  Color slides tend to fade, and the colors are distorted.  Most simple editor programs can correct color, to an acceptable result. 

Aug 26, 2013 3:55PM

Film is not Dead! You can get film for your Polaroid cameras! Including Pack (peel apart film) Companies like Fuji and The Impossible Project are proof that people are still in love with this amazing format of film. It is like nothing else. there are some amazingly talented artists pushing the medium to incredible places.


If you want a good book to read about Polaroid and the fascination we have with instant film, check out Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos.


It is cool that there are people and companies still making instant film. I just wish Fuji still made their fp-100 black and white pack film and 4x5 packfilm.

Aug 23, 2013 9:18PM
I don't see film being the way of the future. Yeah it's fun to develop film, crop it, print photos with various effects, etc.  But it's become too cumbersone for my tastes.

I used to love my Nikon manual-focus 35 mm camera with three difference lenses.  But carrying it and a camcorder into the Pyramids of Egypt, along the Great Wall of China, alongside the geysers of Yellowstone etc. got to be too much when digital cameras reached an acceptable level.

The thin cell-phone sized cameras are not quite good enough for excellent video and still pictures because the spherical aberration (distortion) of very short focal length lenses is too much and the color and pixel ability of very small sensor chips still needs further technical improvement.

But the 2"x2"x4" dual camcorder/still camera units are coming into their own.  They used to have 6cm x 6cm (1/4") sensors and some very cheap ones still do.  But today many inexpensive ones ($300-$500), beginning with the Sanyo VPC FH1a, stepped up to 10 mm sensors.  They take excellent HD (1/4 HD is awesome enough for me!) as well a 8-12 MP stills at the quality of low-priced but decent digital still cameras.

I have that Sanyo camera/camcorder model I mentioned and it fits in my shirt pocket,  It's a little bulky -I also have a belt case for it- but it sure beats the heck out of carrying around a camcorder plus a camera.  Since I bought it in late 2010, other brands may have surpassed it, but it was the cream of the crop at its size then and I'm satisfied with low-light photos/video, color vibrancy, clarity, and special effects (back-lit scenes, etc.)

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