Analog isn’t dead. The appeal of holding a physical photograph in your hands goes beyond mere nostalgia, making memories feel more tangible. Plus, film captures a moment in an instant, honest way that simply can’t be paralleled by digital photography — even with all its do-overs and retouching apps. But even as the popularity of old school Polaroid-style instant cameras rises anew, products that merge both analog and digital show us that the two can peacefully coexist.
Fujifilm just unveiled the Instax Mini LiPlay, a spin on its compact instant camera offering the ability to capture and play audio. You might imagine that involving some kind of button you press to hear the sounds of the scene as you look at the photo, but it’s actually a little less high-tech than that. Instead, the recorded audio is converted into a QR code printed directly on the Instax print, which you can then scan with your phone to listen.
Presented as the smallest and most lightweight camera in the history of the Instax series, the Mini LiPlay takes film that’s the size of a credit card and features a 2.7-inch color LCD screen, allowing users to view and select individual photos for printing. Its minimum focus distance is just 3.9 inches away from a subject, and you can choose from six filters and 30 frames to add a little something extra to the final shot. It takes just 12 seconds for the camera to process and print each photo, and the battery life lasts up to 100 prints on a single charge.
The audio function allows users to capture up to 10 seconds of audio along with any photo, with the resulting QR code taking the form of either a speech bubble or a simple square. Users may or may not like the fact that it takes up quite a bit of real estate on the tiny printed image, but the idea is that you can look at the photo while listening to the original audio or a special message/greeting.
Fujifilm describes the camera as a “hybrid” of digital and film, explaining: “the camera also features the ‘Direct Print’ function, which transfers a photo taken with your smartphone to the LiPlay for printing. You can [then] print your favorite picture in your smartphone easily on instax film and share it with your friends. To make it easy to take a group photo, the camera also offers the ‘Remote Shooting’ function so that you can use a smartphone operation to release the shutter while standing away from the camera itself.”
“The camera body boasts a streamlined and stylish design. Its compact and lightweight form factor makes it easy to carry. Buttons and dials for basic operations such as shutter release and “Sound” function are laid out for advanced operability. Extra attention has been paid to perfect the camera’s texture. The camera comes in three colors, each of which has different surface processing, such as embossed or smooth finish.”
The Instax Mini LiPlay is now available at major retailers in three colors — elegant black, blush gold, and stone white — for $160.