What is the Sharper Image Instant Camera?
After the demise of the Polaroid company in the 2000s, few people could predict the resurgence instant camera market would see just a few years later. Instant photography seems to be all the rage these days, with film and camera availability at an all time high.
The same have dominated instant photography market for as long as it’s been around. Polaroid has come back in yet another incarnation, and Fuji has never left the market. However, a slew of new companies have entered and diversified the field. From heavyweights like Kodak and Canon to niche players like Lomo, everybody wants a slice of the instant cake.
This is where the Sharper Image Instant Camera comes in. Not a revolutionary product by any means, it is essentially a rebranded version of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. It uses the same Fujifilm Instax Mini Film and offers pretty much the same user experience. At about half the price of the Instax (often reduced at Walmart), the Sharper Image Instant Camera comes in three colours – black, baby blue and pink. It’s a cheap and cheerful way into the instant photography hype.
Here’s some specs:
- Film Format: Fujifilm Instax Mini Film
- Uses Hi-Speed ISO 800 instant film
- Image Size: 62 x 46mm / 2.44” x 1.81”
- 60mm camera lens with 1/60 second shutter speed
- Shooting/focal range: 0.6m – infinity
- Real image type viewfinder
- Automatic flash
- 5-minute auto power-off function
- Also includes camera strap and two AA batteries
The Sharper Image Instant Camera is simple enough to be operated by anyone. However, it does come with some advanced features not commonly found on other instant cameras. It’s therefore best to familiarize yourself with it’s functions and settings to achieve the best possible results.
How to use the Sharper Image Instant Camera?
As the camera comes with no instructions or a manual, it can be a bit daunting at first. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
First, you need to load the camera with film and batteries. Unlike older instant film cartridges, the Instax Mini film packs do not have built-in batteries. Therefore, the Sharper Image Instant Camera uses 2 AA batteries that are included in the package. Pay attention to the direction the batteries go in, as it’s not immediately obvious. First battery goes in positive terminal up, the second one goes in positive terminal down. Make sure you keep the little fabric pull tab under the batteries as you slide them in. It will help you remove them when it’s time for new ones.
To put the film casette in, you need to open the back door by depressing the latch on the left hand side. Unpack the film casette from the foil envelope it comes in, and slide it into the camera. The thinner side of the casette goes in first into the hinge side of the camera. There is a yellow marker onto the back of the camera and a corresponding yellow marker onto the casette. These should line up. Once the casette is in place, the camera cover should close without any pressure or compression.
The camera does not have an on/off button, so don’t go looking for one. Instead, there is a lens pop-out button on the front. Once the lens is extended, the camera is automatically switched on. To turn it off, simply push the lens back into the body until it latches in. The 60mm lens has an automatic lens cover so there is no lens cap to keep track of. If the lens is left in the extended position, and the camera is on for 5 minutes without shooting, it powers off to save energy. It can be reactivated by pressing the lens pop-out button again.
Not the most basic instant camera out there, the Sharper Image does have an exposure setting for you to play with. There are five different brightness levels for you to use in different lighting levels both outdoors and indoor. Pay attention to those, as they do affect the exposure significantly.
The Sharper Image Instant Camera has a built-in exposure meter. An LED exposure indicator lights up next to the setting most apropriate for the metered scene. You need to select the setting manually from the function select dial around the lens. When the lens is closed, the camera defaults to Indoor mode. Make sure you change it if you are shooting outside or you will end up with severely overexposed images.
Sharper Image Instant Camera Film Options
There seems to be a bit of a confusion as to what kind of film the Sharper Image Instant Camera uses. This is due to the unclear specs listed on some of the packaging. They add to the mystery of the little camera, but may also be responsible for it’s poor sales.
The Sharper Image Instant Camera is designed to use Fujifilm Instax Mini Film refills. It is a credit card size, 800 ISO color film with each sheet measuring 5. 4 x 8. 6 cm. The images within those sheets measure 6.2 x 4.6 cm or 2.44” x 1.81” and there are 10 sheets per pack. The film is daylight (5500K) balanced and the resulting print has a durable glossy surface. For best value, get the 5 pack 50 sheet bundle or the 100 shot mega pack.
You can also use any of the various specialty frame films like the Instax Mini Stripe Film, the Candy Pop Film, the Sky Blue or the stylish Black verison. All of them use the exact same 800 ISO emulsion and produce the exact same pictures, just framed differently. If you are feeling artsy you can also try the cool black and white film Fuji offers. You can opt for one of many variety packs on offer that allow you to try a bunch of fun frames.
Although not officially supported, the Sharper Image camera also works with Polaroid PIF300 film. There is no reason why it shouldn’t, the film is designed for use and compatible with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera & the full mini line of the Fujifilm Instax Cameras. Despite the 300 in the name the film has the same 800ISO sensitivity as the Fujifilm Instax Mini, therefore no setting adjustment is necessary. Like the Instax, the PIF film usually comes in double packs of ten sheets each, but it’s better value to go for multiples.
What do you think about the Sharper Image Instant Camera? If you have any questions, do not hesitate to post in the comments below!