I love to shoot instant film. I love the old peel-apart film, I love Polaroid and I also love Fuji INSTAX. What I didn’t like so much was their bulky plastic camera so I bought the Lomography Belair Instax back and managed to DIY cut, glue and tape it to a Mamiya Universal. For flash work I use the rare Fuji Instax 500AF, the only Instax camera ever build with autofocus which they only made for 1 or 2 years. (God knows why, its way better then what they sell now, Fuji if you read this, please bring it back)

When EMULSIVE teased a picture of a Monochrome Wide pack I immediately became enthusiastic. The Monochrome film in mini version was nice but I wanted to shoot it with the medium format Mamiya to see what a good glass lens would do with it, and I was finally able to do so. The Dutch advertising department for INSTAX did sent me a few packs to try as soon as it came out, and I also shot one photo with FP-100b film that I had laying around to see what the differences where.

I saw no difference in sharpness but the INSTAX has way more contrast and consequently, the peel-apart film had more gradation of mid tone grays. Then again the FP100b film is old, and has a little marble effect of the development fluid being a bit treacly.
The images follow below. To view them in full screen, click or tap to zoom.

The third photograph with Amartey making a phone call with a stack of fake money bills was taken with the plastic 500AF at a party to see how the film works with flash – I loved the result. We are used to the same deep contrast with INSTAX color film and quite a lot of sharpness. All the other photos are shot with studio light and the custom Mamiya Universal with a 100mm Seiko lens around f/4.

Just yesterday (at the time of writing), I went to see Tijn who has been fixing Mamiya Lenses and camera’s since the beginning of the 1980s. He showed me around his workshop – which is a camera nerd heaven – and I managed to take the final sheet above and have his magnification add-ons sharp in focus!

~ Raymond van Mil

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About the author

Raymond van Mil

Raymond van Mil is a freelance photographer & Dutch VICE photo editor — Polaroid, analog, and digital work!


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  1. I have a question about the Instax 500af’s autofocus. I just got one of these cameras and I find it very strange that when you press the shutter halfway, the green light comes on, but the lens doesn’t move at all. Pressing it fully activates the shutter, but I can’t see any movement in the lens. The inital photos are a little bit sharper than those from a Mini 90, but relatively soft, I haven’t done a technical test. Does your camera work like this or does the lens move as one would expect?