Post by Mark
I’ve wanted an instant film camera ever since I was a kid since I always found them a bit magical because you’re kinda creating something out of nothing. It’s the same reason I’ve always had a thing for fax machines, you put the paper in the machine on one end then, a few seconds later, it starts coming out on another machine all the way on the other side of the country. But for some reason I never ended up getting an instant film camera, probably because I didn’t really have a reason to get one. I’ve always had cameras growing up and later digital cameras and phone cameras so the need for an instant camera wasn’t there, until I saw the Leica Sofort. I’m not a Leica fan. I think Leica M series are over hyped, extremely over priced, and I can’t understand why anyone would want to shoot with a manual focus camera. But, when I saw the Sofort I just fell in love with the way it looked. It had a great minimal and very retro design while also not costing an arm and a leg.
The Leica Sofort comes in three colors, white, orange and mint. I knew right away I wanted the Mint color but when I tried finding one it was completely sold out everywhere online. After searching for a couple of days I finally ended up finding one shop in London that still had the mint colored Leica and quickly placed my order. When my package finally arrived to Kuwait and I opened it I right away knew I made the right choice in color. It just works really well with the retro look, the orange I think would have looked a bit like a toy while the white would have just been boring (for me at least). I’ve had the camera now for two weeks and I’ve used it in a variety of different environments. What I’ve concluded is that the camera is a hit and miss when it comes to the pictures, but thats not a surprise, thats actually exactly what I was expecting from an instant film camera.
I’ll start with the good stuff, the battery lasts a pretty long time. It comes with a small rechargeable battery which I charged on the first day for like an hour. Since then I’ve used the camera to take around 80 photos and the battery is still showing as full. Another great thing about the camera is that it uses Fuji Instax Mini films which you can find all over Kuwait. I’ve been getting mine from Xcite and a double pack which contains 2×10 packs sells for KD5. That means each photo I take costs 250fils which isn’t that bad. I think the camera performed best when I took it to the “Walk This Way” sneaker event this past weekend since the photos came out looking like they were taken in the 80s or 90s which fit perfectly with the theme of the event. The portrait shots all came out great and best part is, after I took the photos, I just handed the pictures over. Like souvenirs they could keep. Even when the results didn’t come out as expected (like the ones above), the photos still had a pretty cool look.
But like I said the camera is a hit and miss. The exposure is all over the place, some portrait shots using the flash resulted in the subjects being super overexposed with washed out colors while other times the shots came out perfectly exposed with all the colors still intact. During bright sunlight a lot of shots would also be overexposed and even when I chose to underexpose (there is an option for that) it didn’t really do much. But, my biggest gripe with the camera is the fact that all the settings reset back to the default settings once you turn the camera off. One of the things I like about this camera is you have options you can choose from like selecting between four scene settings for different lighting situations, having the flash on or off, if you’d like to over expose or under expose a shot and finally most importantly, the camera has two focus modes, close (under 3m) and far. Since I mostly shoot landscape or architectural shots I would want my settings to be no flash and the focus set to further than 3m. But I need to set that up every time I turn on the camera because by default, the camera sets the flash to auto and the focus distance to close. On more than one occasion I’ve taken photos only to have them come out blurry because I forgot to set the focus or I’ve had the flash go off because I forgot to turn it off. Super annoying and I don’t understand why Leica decided to do this.
Overall though I’m happy with the camera. Yes the output isn’t consistent and sometimes random, but I like that because every time I take a picture I now eagerly wait for the photo to develop to see what I got. It’s a surprise every time. The Leica Sofort cost me around KD95 including shipping via PostaPlus to Kuwait. It’s not cheap, but it is one of the cheapest Leica’s you can buy. The camera that is the closest to it in terms of capabilities is the Fuji Mini 90 which I’ve read is what the Sofort is possibly based off. The Mini 90 costs around KD40 on Amazon without shipping or tax so basically half the price of the Leica. If you’re interested in getting the Sofort, I got it from Dale Photographic whom as of this post have all three colors in stock. [Link]