I've used the Instax SQ40 – and I see why these cameras have such a cult following

These retro instant cameras have a fun factor which is great for amateurs and pros alike

The Instax SQ40 with two images captured by it laying in front
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

Earlier today, Fujifilm launched their latest instant film camera. The Instax SQ40 uses square format instant film. This was popularised by the likes of Polaroid, and has an instantly recognisable silhouette.

These days, the Instax Square range is just as popular. Previous generations of the range – like the Instax SQ6 – sell for ludicrous sums on the second hand market, owing to their immense popularity. It's contributed to something of a cult status around the devices.

With the SQ40, Fuji have definitely adopted a less-is-more approach. There's a distinct lack of controls on the device, making it great for simple point-and-shoot duties. A revolving ring around the lens switches between off, on and selfie modes. That selfie mode has been engineered for closer shots, and also doubles as a handy macro mode. Neat.

It's worth noting that the viewfinder and the lens on this camera are separate. That's not too much of an issue for subjects further away, but be aware that those close to the camera may appear a little differently that they looked when you hit the shutter.

The overall design is also a little nicer. You can definitely feel the added quality of the material, while the sleek black and silver colourway is designed to blend in with the rest of your camera collection. That's great for more professional settings. Perhaps you've got one of the best DSLR cameras for your regular work, but fancy having something a little more instant for handing out on the spot. With the SQ40, you don't have to carry a pastel coloured toy camera to get that result.

I had the pleasure of testing the SQ40 at a launch event in London. And it's simply brilliant. Unlike the older SQ6, there's really nothing to play with in terms of different modes and functions. That could be seen as a negative, but in reality, it makes the SQ40 much easier to just get on with using.

All you have to do is choose whether you want the regular shooting mode or the selfie/macro mode, and you're good to go. Simply click, whirr, and you have an instant photo. Development takes around 90 seconds and watching the magic of a photo appearing in front of your eyes never gets old.

Sure, it's not perfect. With no control over the aperture, shutter speed or ISO, professional photographers may find themselves a little out of sorts. There's really no way around it – you'll just have to adjust how you take the image instead.

And to that end, there are defintiely areas where the SQ40 is better than others. Indoor photos in low light really do pop – paticularly if your subject is in range of the powerful built-in flash. Outdoor photos aren't bad, but I do find them to be a little softer. 

But the real highlight is shooting people. That flash just makes portraits absolutely pop, with a retro vibe that is the cornerstone of this kind of product.

The Instax SQ40 is available to pre-order right now, with shipments starting on the 29th of June. The camera retails for £134.99 in the UK.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.