An Instant TLR? Don’t Mind If I Do.

The news hit the internet this week that MiNT, a company from Hong Kong that previously produced a flash bar and accessory filters for the SX70, have announced a brand new instant camera: the TL70, a TLR that takes Instax Mini film. Normally, I’d just leave this sort of news to sloppy press-release rehashing blogs who contribute no insight and just want traffic, but I’m actually quite excited about this one.

DSC_4072

See, while we’ve seen an attempt at an Instant TLR before (take a bow now, Kevin Kadooka), this is, to my knowledge, the first one that will be manufactured and sold ready to go straight out of the box, and from what I can tell, MiNT have really knocked it out of the park:

  • Proper TLR focusing (no Holga “TLR”-style toy camera bullshit here)
  • Aperture priority autoexposure (with f/5.6, f/8, f/16, f/32 aperture stops – impressive, for an instant camera)
  • LEDs in viewfinder to warn photographer of under-or-overexposure
  • Shutter speeds between 1/500 and 1sec (mirroring the classic leaf shuttered TLRs of old)
  • Bulb / long exposure setting, running up to 10 seconds (TLRs are perfect for tripod work, so this is very welcomed)
  • onboard flash (that can be disabled! Fuji, take note.)
  • a 48cm close focus stop (for those selfie-obsessed Japanese schoolgirls, no doubt)
  • 2 year warranty (so hopefully no Belair-style disappointments)
LEDs! Proper ground glass! This isn't a toy, this is a real camera - and that makes me very happy.
LEDs! Proper ground glass! This isn’t a toy, this is a real camera – and that makes me very happy.

Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for someone in the Far East to design and manufacture this; Instax Mini film and TLRs are both much-loved in China and Japan, and the combination of the two seems like an obvious thing to do. I predict that this will fly off the shelves in the East, while the American market will scratch its collective head in confusion and Europe will continue to underestimate the brilliance that is Instax film.

See? Brilliant.
See? Brilliant.

The suggested retail price currently stands at US $ 319 (or £212), which is – by all accounts – bloody high, but when you consider that the (still ridiculously named) Instax 90 Neo Classic was originally $210, this is probably worth the extra cash. Of course, we won’t know for certain until we get to use one in person, but at least on paper, there’s finally a camera that has me interested in the tiny Instax Mini format.

Now if only we could get one for Instax Wide…

Hiding the flash under the nameplate is a smart move aesthetically and a brilliant move as far as UX goes.
Hiding the flash under the nameplate is a smart move aesthetically and a brilliant move as far as UX goes. (Hopefully the cameras that are sold will have cleaner lenses than this, though.)

Go check out the camera for yourself (and even order one) at https://mint-camera.com/tl70 now, before I buy them all and roll around in bankrupt happiness.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ll admit to being a bit excited about this one as well. From their past work, they’re capable of solid construction. Portrait oriented Instax Wide would be better, and battery-free manual operation as well. I suspect it has an electronic shutter, so that may not be possible.

  2. says

    Exciting!! I wonder how sharp the lens is?

    And Instax Wide? That’d be nice, but the camera would need to be pretty wide then too though.

    Gotta love the use of AA betteries in this as you can find them everywhere :)

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