Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20

Cool factor 4/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 4/5

There’s something magical about seeing a photograph develop in front of your eyes, the image slowly emerging from the blank page. It is what catapulted Polaroid cameras into icon status back in 1960s and 1970s.

Fujifilm is capitalising on that magic with its Instax camera range. The Instax Square SQ20 is the 2019 top-of-the-range device, an update on 2017’s SQ10 which gave us both instant print and on-device editing and filters. The combination makes for a quirky, anachronistic thing: a standalone digital camera (how noughties!), with filters and on-device editing (bang up to date), and instant-print, square-format photos (straight out of the 1970s and 1980s).

It’s instant gratification (and a degree of gimmick) for those who didn’t live through the Polaroid age, and commercialised nostalgia for those who did.

The SQ20 has several tricks up its sleeve, including a function that lets you take short videos (up to 15 seconds) and manually select a frame from the sequence for printing. It has no front-facing screen, but it has added a little mirror to the front to help frame your selfies.

Files are stored on internal memory expandable with a microSD card, so you can transfer them to other devices, or pick a selection for editing and printing. It also has 4x digital zoom.

Navigating the menu using buttons and a dial feels a little clunky now that we’re so used to touch screen interfaces, but it’s not difficult to adjust. Images are captured in 1920 x 1920 pixels, and the 2.4 x 2.4 inch images print in 10 seconds. Printing paper comes in packs of 10, for R170.

There are two shutter buttons, left and right of the lens, and the camera fits nicely in one’s hand. It is obviously plastic, but at R2,999 or thereabouts it’s more of a cheap and cheerful camera anyway, so that aligns with expectations. This isn’t going to produce pin-sharp prints, but again that’s not the point. The point is fun, and the SQ20 makes that point well.