For those taking full advantage of the instant camera revival, the Lomo'Instant Automat will be a strong contender. With extra lenses for versatility, a compact design and simple shooting modes, it's a stylish camera that's reminiscent of classical film offerings. Available in a range of different styles, we're looking at the 'Playa Jardin' all black edition.
Lomo'Instant Automat Features
The Lomo'Instant Automat takes Fujifilm Instax film, giving you credit-card sized images. In the box, you get the camera, 5 lens add-ons, instructions, coloured flash gels, picture tip cards and DIY photo stands for the images you take.
On the front of the camera is the rectangular shutter button which also acts as a selfie mirror, flash, and light sensors. Around the lens is a rotatable cuff which allows you to twist it and turn the camera on to infinity focus, mid focus and close focus.
On the back of the camera is the slot to insert the film, and 4 buttons allowing you to toggle the flash, MX (Multiple Exposure) mode, lighten or darken the exposure by 1 stop, and choose automatic or bulb mode. You'll also find the viewfinder and the battery compartment. The camera takes CR2 (3V) batteries, not the standard AA or AAA type.
On the left-hand side is the slot where the exposed film comes out, and on the right is a tripod mount. On the top and bottom, there are lugs allowing you to attach a neck strap.
In the box, there are several accessories to change up how you shoot. There are fisheye, wide angle, close-up and splitzer (expose parts of the image at a time without exposures overlapping) attachments that simply screw onto the front of the camera. Also included is a lens cap that also doubles as a remote release. It also has a built-in torch.
Included are coloured flash filters, in green, yellow, blue and purple, that slide on top of the flash to give your images a fun colour tint. You also get some inspiration cards with handy shooting hints and tips on as well as some cardboard stands for your Instax images.
- Auto and Bulb modes
- Multiple exposure mode
- Colour gels included
- Takes Fujifilm Instax instant film
- Comes with fisheye, wide-angle, close-up and splitzer lens attachments
- Lens cap that doubles as shutter release
Lomo-Instant Automat Handling
The camera is quite square in shape and there's no definite grip that identifies which way you should hold it. The fact is that it's possible to hold it almost any way around that's comfortable for you. The shutter button is a good size and has a reassuring click when pressed.
It's simple to turn the camera on - there's a grippy texture to the cuff and there's also a little nub. There is a reassuring click when you reach each setting. The buttons on the back of the camera are small but it's easy to tell what's on and off and what setting you're on according to the lights. Green lights show you the mode - no light and that setting isn't activated.
The only slightly complicated mode is the MX setting. Press the MX button and an orange light comes on. This will allow you to create multiple exposures on one image. Every time the shutter is pressed, a new exposure is added to the film. When you're done, pressing the MX button again prints out your results. You can create as many exposures as you like but any more than 3 and things start becoming indistinguishable. It took us a while to get used to this style of shooting but it's quite an innovative way of dealing with multiple exposures.
On the left-hand side of the camera near the slot where the film comes out there are a series of lights, which show you how many shots you have left before you run out of film.
The camera is covered in a grippy fake leather effect skin that gives it a neat, matte finish. If you wish to use one of the adapters, these simply screw into the front of the camera. Unfortunately, though, you can't see the effect it will have on the image as the viewfinder isn't linked to the lens.
Using the flash filters is a little fiddly. The 4 filters come in a neat plastic pouch but they are difficult to get out and once out, you need to thread them behind the plastic on the front of the flash. Someone with small fingers and a bit of nail is good for this.
Lomo'Instant Automat Performance
We took the camera on a trip to Lincoln, to test its outdoor performance as well as experimenting with MX mode. We also took some portraits and tested the camera in low light situations.
The offset of the viewfinder meant that you had to consider this when framing images and some were a little off centre because of this. The camera produced rich colours but struggled with contrasty images - often underexposing for the sky or overexposing buildings.
We had better results indoors with the flash, creating a well-exposed image using the splitzer and experimenting with the purple flash filter. When photographing a lit Christmas tree in a dark room, the silhouetted effect we got was really cool.
The images don't take long to expose when spat out, so you don't need to wait long to see the results.
Value For Money
The Lomo'Instant Automat Playa Jardin edition is available for £159 from the Lomography store. The white Bora Bora edition and South beach red and white edition are available on Amazon for a similar price.
In terms of other instant cameras, Fujifilm's Instax bodies also gives good results with the same size film. A Mini 90 NEO Classic camera like the one we reviewed can be found for £119 including film. but they don't have the ability to add different lenses for additional effects.
For those who want something even more retro and hipster, Impossible have bought out an instant camera called the I1 that uses original Polaroid-sized film. It's chunky but offers you manual modes and innovative functions accessed by an app. It's available for £229.
The Fujifilm Instax film is available for £14.95 for 20 shots, making it decent value for instant film compared to £16.99 for 8 Polaroid 600 colour shots.
Lomo'Instant Automat Verdict
Overall, the Lomo-Instant Automat isn't the smallest Fujifilm Instax film camera that's available, however it is a stylish option that gives you clearly laid out buttons and simple to understand controls that are altered by simply pressing a button. The addition of add-ons for the camera make it even more versatile giving you further shooting options not available with other instant models.
Overall this is a neat little kit with great additional features like the flash colour filters that really add to your creative wardrobe when taking instant images. We're impressed with the versatility of the camera and also the richness of the images produced.
Lomo'Instant Automat Pros
- Additional lenses make it versatile
- Easy to use multi-exposure mode
- Rich, bright images
Lomo'Instant Automat Cons
- Viewfinder off to the side makes it difficult to frame images
- CR2 batteries are difficult to source