When shooting with a digital camera, it’s a wonderful feature to have an instant view of your masterpiece, but it’s a totally different experience seeing everything in print. The Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 is an instant camera that provides the look and tones of film, with straightforward workings and final images at a reasonable size.
The main idea behind the camera is to provide not just instant gratification of printed images, but also to include straightforward workings. This should allow the user to focus on composition and simply to have fun with the camera. The instax WIDE 300 isn’t going to take the place of a full-fat DSLR or film camera, nor is it meant to. But for those looking for a low-cost camera solution which can produce instant prints without too much messing about, the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 could be just the ticket.
The first thing you will notice about the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 is its rather large dimensions. The total size of 7.4×4.8×3.8 inches is largely governed by the size of the film stock, which in this case is large format ISO 800 INSTAX film. The final images produced come in at 2.4×3.9 inches which produce a nice landscape view of the world.
The external features are very simple to use as this is mostly an automatic camera. There is a built-in flash with automatic power settings and the ability to change the exposure by ±2/3 EV. The 95mm, f/14 lens features an easy-to-turn focusing ring and when you need to know how many shots are remaining, there is a little LCD screen on the rear of the camera which also displays exposure compensation and specific flash modes.
The electronic shutter also has a range of 1/64 to 1/200 seconds, which should be good enough for lots of posed shots, but is not quite quick enough to capture fast-moving action photography. One nice addition is the inclusion of a tripod socket if you want the steadiest of shots. Plus, there is a tiny viewfinder which is just about adequate to preview a scene.
The loading of film is a straightforward process; the 20 exposure Fujifilm INSTAX Wide Instant Film simply slots into the back of the camera. There’s also a tiny little window on the rear door for checking if a pack of film is loaded or not.
The Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 in Use
Due to the dimensions of the camera, it’s best carried around via an adequate camera strap as it’s not exactly pocket-sized. As previously mentioned, the viewfinder is very small and assumes that you are left eye dominant. However, the viewfinder does give you a reasonable representation of the final image.
Capturing an image couldn’t be more straightforward. Compose the shot and, with a quick turn of the focus ring, you have an instant image. The handgrip on the camera makes it so much easier to shoot at creative angles and makes everything feel more like a traditional DSLR, rather than the compact Instamatic variety.
The final image quality is where it counts with the Fujifilm, largely due to the quality of the film and the huge depth of field provided by the f/14 lens. At 95mm, the lens has quite a narrow viewpoint. But this is also a nice focal length for portrait shots and allows you to stand back from the action for when you need to be more discreet.
As the lens is manual focusing, it trains you to be more deliberate over each shot. As you have only 20 exposures to play with at a time, you don’t have the luxury of extra shots as with a digital camera. Slowing the shooting process down to think about the final composition is always a good thing.
The colors produced from each image are rich and vibrant, with a good degree of contrast. For a fully automatic camera, the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 is very good at keeping detail in the shadows and highlights of an image, where other instant cameras tend to overexpose a scene. In sunny conditions, images are a touch overexposed, but with the right setting can still provide detail in blue skies on a sunny day.
The light and dark settings are very basic, but just about cover most shooting situations. The flash can be popped with its own button or you can let the camera decide when it needs extra light. Depending on the subject matter, the lens has two focal ranges from 0.9m to 3m and 3m to infinity. There is also a close-up lens supplied which can go as close as 40cm to a given subject.
Packs of film can be picked up for roughly $15 for 20 exposures. This may seem expensive from those coming from the digital world, but you have to consider that your final product is a real-world print and the final production is larger than many other instant cameras. Monochrome film costs slightly more if you require a more arty, vintage feel to your images.
What’s the Alternative?
The Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide camera is a possible alternative, which comes with a bunch of extra lenses and looks more like your typical old school film camera. The Lomography provides more creative control over camera settings than the instax WIDE 300, but overall it’s not as user-friendly.
The Lomography also costs roughly $80 more than the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300, but the addition of the extra lenses provides far more creative potential. The ultimate decision will come down to whether you just want a straightforward, budget point-and-shoot camera or one with a bunch more options.
|Fujifilm instax WIDE 300||Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide|
The Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 Does Well in Its Own Niche
The Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 may seem like a large and bulky camera, but it doesn’t feel that heavy in reality. Plus, the benefit of producing instant film camera prints that resemble classic Polaroids can’t be underestimated.
For such a cost-effective camera, the instax WIDE 300 is also very good at producing good exposures, with a nice degree of color saturation and reasonable levels of sharpness. The optics can be susceptible to lens flare at times, but when shot in the right way, this effect can also produce a very film-like rendition.
The camera doesn’t feature many shooting modes or options, which is one of its main limiting factors. However, as a straightforward camera that can produce good quality images time after time, the instax WIDE 300 is a good starting point.