Monday, April 6, 2015

My Love Affair with Fuji - An Instax Believer

Don’t tell Olympus or Sony, but my love affair with the Fuji brand is growing with each day. Although I have been writing about the Fuji X-T1 quite a bit, I would say it is their offering of instant film products that has me head over heels. Their X-series mirrorless cameras have impressed me thus far, but still have a lot of room to improve like all mirrorless cameras. For now, I am blissfully using it as another photographic tool, but I will save that for another post.

What is it about the Instax products that appeal to me so much, you may wonder. Before I started shooting in the digital age, I had a point and shoot film camera that I pretty much took everywhere I went – from family gatherings, middle school dances to our local ice skating rink. It was small, easy to use and created physical memories that I could hold on to and enjoy with my friends/family.

Dropping off film at my local Target and waiting an hour for it to develop was similar to the anticipation of opening presents on Christmas Day. I even bought Fuji 800 Speed film packs mainly because they were more affordable than Kodak. Out of focus, motion blur, discoloration were all acceptable to me just as long as the subject was interesting. In the digital age, I notice I obsess more about sharpness, color, chromatic aberration, moirĂ©, vignetting and all the other factors that I probably shouldn't really be paying much attention to. With film we often hear people describe its inherent flaws as characteristics of the medium. Don't get me wrong, I would still rather work with the digital format, but in my eyes there’s still something appealing about film and it's ability to create something tangible without the need to post process. 

We learned the hard way, not all Sharpies are created equal. If you plan on writing on the Instax prints make sure you use the permanent ink variant (as labeled on the pen) as to avoid smearing.
For our wedding project, we decided to avoid powering the Fuji SP-1 printer with batteries.  Instead we opted to use a CAIUL USB Power Cable (available on amazon for ~$13) and an external rechargeable battery pack.  In my opinion, this is a more reliable way to power the printer

Fuji is able to scratch that film itch and continue to give me something physical to enjoy again. I raved about my recent acquisition of the SP-1 printer - Click HERE for my review.  I loved it so much, I even found a way to incorporate it in our wedding, which had a photography theme. My lovely fiance, now my wife, gave me the green light to buy over 200 sheets of Instax mini film and we printed out table cards for all of our 170+ guests. In the digital world, where all of our photography is mostly shared on Google+ and Facebook, it is so refreshing to share our work through a tangible medium. Even though the print quality will never match that of a professional grade printer, it is still something people can spend time holding, examining, and keeping for years to come. Many have commented that these table cards were a unique way of displaying our Disney photography and showing off our personality. To this day, I see these table cards posted on our friends'/family's refrigerators. 

A special thank you to Efong Chiu over at EmaginePixel for taking these photos. Pinterest gave us the idea of using a canvas to hang all of our prints (painted by our amazingly talented brother, John Pelico III).  We stapled and taped string across and hung them with mini clothes pins (eBay is the best place to get these pins - I got 200 for under $20). A table top easel was used to keep the painted canvas upright.

Fuji's contribution to our wedding didn't end there. We asked our usher to take candid photographs with the Fuji Instax 210 camera. This camera should not be mistaken with the mini versions that take the same film packs as the SP-1 Printer, Mini 8 or the hipster-friendly NEO 90. In my opinion, the 210 wide film is a much more favorable format at 9.9cm x 6.2cm than say Polaroid's 7.5cm x 7.5cm. For some reason, I just can't get behind the square format and is the sole reason why I do not use Instagram on a regular basis. Besides being more conducive for portrait, landscape and group shots for my style of photography, the film packs are significantly more affordable than Impossible Project's (a third party manufacturer who is known for making film for Polaroid cameras) and are far less temperamental. I have a hard time recommending Polaroid to people who want to get into instant photography especially after what I had seen on the Tony Northrup YouTube channel. 

Our custom made, Etsy ordered, wedding album dedicated to Fuji Instax products
Heather and I invested (and I wholeheartedly mean the word invested) in an additional 200 sheets of wide film and boy did it pay off. Our Usher went above and beyond what I had originally intended and spent the entire night documenting the festivities...that is until my father punched the camera out of his hand while dancing with my Mom. Although the camera did not survive the accident, we were able to walk away with over 150 frames and we are incredibly excited to build our wedding album/scrapbook.

The opening page to our book. All the photos were developed with the FujiFilm SP-1 Printer. A special thanks to Rachel B. Photography and EmaginePixel for  their great contributions to our memories
The wide prints fit perfectly in our album. We used adhesive photo corners, which can be purchased at any arts and crafts store, to adhere the photos to our album.

Just a small sample of our Instax collection. Instead of having our guests sign a guest book, we had them leave us a message on the Instax photo themselves. It makes sifting through these photos a much more enjoyable experience. 

On my main website I have a tagline that states: "A good photo is an investment that doesn't lose interest". In fact, I believe photographs are one of the few things that gain exponentially more personal  and sentimental value as time progresses.  I may sound a little too adamant, even dogmatic, about printing, but I have come from a place where I almost lost 1 years worth of photographs due to a failed hard drive. Our memories should not live and die on our computer and the Fuji Instax products help me easily and conveniently practice what I preach. To date, no other company is able to scratch my nostalgic film itch at such an affordable price point. After spending thousands of dollars on a wedding, it is so nice to be able to instantly enjoy and reminisce one of the happiest days of my life. My wallet typically follows my heart and at the rate Fuji's going, they will continue to keep me as a loyal customer. 

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