At the very end of the last year I bought a used Jollylook instant camera, which is the product of a bizarre Kickstarter project. Surprisingly enough, I got the camera even before some of the Kickstarter backers who invested into the project. My experience with the camera was disappointing and I was considering getting rid of it. Luckily, at nearly the same time I bought a used Lubitel camera, because I was interested in middle-format photography. Having these two cameras, I came up with the idea of combining the subtle beauty of instant photography with solid design and decent quality of Lubitel cameras.
I started small with a proof-of-concept prototype. The prototype was simply a 3D-printed frame that held a sheet of Instax Mini film securely inside the Lubitel camera in place of roll film. I loaded and unloaded each sheet of film manually using a dark box. After I removed the exposure from the camera I processed it also in darkroom environment using the Jollylook camera as a developer unit. Despite the awkwardness of the whole process, it brought encouraging results. The photos were sharp and created perceivable impression of depth with distinguishable fore- and background planes.
At that moment I realised that I could do better than Jollylook, but what about widely used Instax cameras? I had not found where to rent or from whom to borrow an Instax camera, therefore I bought a used Instax Mini Neo 90 from Amazon.
I provide photos which I took with the Neo 90 camera and my frame prototype. I used both color and monochrome film. I expected the latter to give sharper images, but that seems not to be the case, probably because it’s not a true black and white film.
- a monochrome photo taken with Neo 90
- a monochrome photo taken with the prototype
- a color photo taken with Neo 90
- a color photo taken with the prototype
I scanned the photos with a conventional flatbed scanner at 1200 DPI (I assume the value reflects real optical resolution) and down-scaled to 600 DPI. No other processing was applied. Apparently, the prototype produced better images than the Neo 90. That result encouraged me to start a full-scale project implementing my idea of combining Instax film with Lubitel camera.