Digital

Instax Mini 70 Camera Review

When you search through the various different social media channels for anything relating to the Travelers Notebook or journaling, at some point you will come across photos of heavily decorated pages. One common theme between them is the use of photos that fit perfectly into the Travelers Notebook A5 slim pages. The use of these photos had always caught my eye as I felt that were the perfect addition to the recording of memories. Shortly before having a baby I decided that I could use an instant camera to document my sons first year(s) with old fashioned photos and so began searching around for an option that would suit me. After considering several different cameras and printers I settled on the Instax Mini 70.

The reasons I chose the Instax Mini 70

Firstly the aesthetics of the Instax Mini 70 is far better that its predecessor the Instax Mini 8. I always felt that the Mini 8 looked like a toy or underwater disposable camera, the Mini 70 is much smarter and overall a better design. There are three different colours, white, blue and yellow. I went for yellow as I liked the bright and vibrant colour and I felt it added to the fun of the product.

The Mini 70 uses the Instax Mini film and gives you 10 shots per cartridge. It’s really easy to load the cartridges into the camera with the helpful yellow markers and the size of the photos once printed are perfect. They really remind me of the old polaroid photos with the distinctive section at the bottom where you can add a small written memory.

Film cartridge with helpful yellow guides to assist with correct loading

There is a small little mirror on the front of the camera which helps you to take selfies. I am not a huge selfie person but at times this sort of feature could be handy especially with a small baby and being on my own for large chunks of the day. Regardless on the number of selfies you take at some point this could be a useful feature.

Selfie mirror on the front of the camera

Selfie mirror on the front of the camera

There are several different settings on this camera, which again was an improvement on the Mini 8. It has a close up, landscape and a selfie shooting feature. All of these different settings are designed to give you the best possible reproduction of what you are shooting. I have played around a little with these features and they do change the look of the photo, but I am not an expert at this just yet.

The benefits of the Mini 70 for me

I mainly use this camera to capture a memory. I really like having a physical photo of a particular moment rather than just a digital version on my iPhone. In the past I had tried several photo printing apps uploading photos from my phone and receiving prints in the post. But these have never really worked well enough. There have been quality issues with some of the companies I have used and you can never seem to get the right size photos for journaling. The Instax Mini 70 just makes things simpler. I can take photos as and when I want to and straight away I can add it into my journal.

So far I have used the Mini 70 mainly to take photos that in some way relate to my son. I have given some of these photos to relatives, which they have loved, and I have used them in a journal dedicated to document his first weeks, months and year(s). It is something that we can look back at together as a family, but it also means that I am capturing memories and helping to remember big and small things.

An example journal page

An example journal page

I have used the camera at a baby shower taking photos throughout the day and given these to the mum-to-be. This was appreciated quite a lot by the mum-to-be. What I noticed with giving photos to her instantly in this way that was they were looked at more closely than those taken digitally.

What I am trying to highlight is the Instax Mini 70 has very easily found its place. It definitely doesn’t replace my iPhone to take photos, it serves a completely different purpose. My iPhone is still the first and primary tool I use when I want to take a photo, but the Instax Mini 70 makes me take a different set of photos and have physical keep sakes instantly.

The downsides of the Instax Mini 70

Despite my enjoyment of this camera there are some downsides that I have to point out. The benefits of the Mini 70 personally outweigh these negatives but for some people they could be deal breakers.

First up is the size of this camera, it’s pretty big and chunky. This seems obvious, the camera has to be bigger than the photo itself and has to hold a film cartridge which therefore means it’s going to be pretty big. On top of that, it needs to house all of the things to actually make it work. Despite these obvious points I was surprised when I opened the box at its size and initially did wonder how I would lug it around.

Size comparison against some everyday journaling items

Size comparison against some everyday journaling items

Then there is the issue of carrying around enough film. I have a spare cartridge with me most of the time to ensure that I’m not caught short but this adds to the bulk. Because of the restrictions with the film you are forced to think about what sort of photos you are taking a lot more. I have actually enjoyed this part as it’s made me consider what I am looking at, what the best angle for the shot would be and how it could look, but whilst obvious this had to called out.

Lastly the price may be a deal breaker for some people. When searching for an instant camera I was initially drawn to the Instax 90 for its gorgeous retro look. The Instax 90 costs just that little bit more, around the £110 mark. At the time I wasn’t sure how, or even if, I would use this camera enough to justify the outlay so I went for the simpler Mini 70. The Instax Mini 70 costs around £70 which includes one pack of film in the box. Alongside the camera cost you have to consider the cost of actually using the camera. For a single pack of film you would be looking at £10 for 10 shots, however I have found that buying packs in bulk through Amazon means you’re able to get better deals. Recently I picked up 4 cartridges (40 shots) for £26.

Overall thoughts

I can see the fascination of this modern take on an old fashioned camera. They are more than anything great fun to use. There are obvious downsides but despite all of this I really like this product and I am so glad I took the plunge and bought one.

Social Update - New Instagram Account

I recently created a dedicated Instagram account for The Finer Point to allow me to share all my geeky stationery goodness with likeminded people. 

You can find me on Instagram @thefinerpoint

I haven't posted too much there yet but I love using Instagram to see how people use their stationery tools. It's a great place to get inspiration and ideas and for 2016 I have decided that I will contribute and share how I use mine. 

Study Toolkit - the 2015 edition

October represents for me the start of a new study year with the Open University. Nine months of part time studying, my fifth year out of six. It has been tough and challenging and at times I have questioned why I am doing this. 

To make the stressful period more fun I revel in the stationery items I can use. However this year my study toolkit takes on a slightly different set-up. From October I will be taking a course in a completely different subject area - Design thinking: creativity for the 21st century. This means a lot less reading than my previous courses and probably less analogue note taking. In light of this I am expanding on my first study toolkit post, and creating the 2015 edition. 

My 2015 study essentials  

My 2015 study essentials  

MacBook Air 

This course is primarily carried out online. My beloved 11" MacBook Air will be used for the main online tasks, uploading images and completing my written assignments. 

iPad 

When I don't need to be on my Mac my iPad will be the second in command system. At some point in the next few months I will be upgarding to an iPad Air 2 to allow me to take advantage of the new features in the recent iOS 9 update. 

The Notebook

Of course being the stationery nerd that I am, I will have a notebook for any note taking that may be required. This time round I will be using the recently launched Shenandoah edition Field Notes memo book. I wanted to use a small and portable notebook that is easy to carry around and can be used alongside my digital tools.

iPhone (soon to be 6s Plus)  

I found an interesting YouTube channel from someone who has taken this course last year. A requirement is taking photographs to record your work and feed back into an online portfolio system. This particular person decided to take this one step further and to video his work. Borrowing, ok perhaps stealing from this idea, I have decided I will use the iPhone's time lapse feature to take multiple pictures of me doing particular tasks and activities. I am not very comfortable sitting in front of a camera and talking without waffling so this seems like the next best idea to me. I will upload these videos to YouTube and send on to my tutor. 

Travel Tripod and the Glif 

Both of these are essential for use with my iPhone. Using the Glif alongside the tripod means I have a ready to go set-up for time lapse filming when needed.  

iBooks

This will be an important tool in the absence of physical books on this course and perfect for studying on the go with the iPad. I usually prefer reading from physical books and taking notes with pen and paper - shocking I know - but this year and with this course I will be forced to embrace more digital tools. 

OmniFocus 2 for iPad 

My current tasks

My current tasks

This is a new addition to my workflow. I used the original OmniFocus a long time ago on the iPad but I wasn't using it for a designated purpose and therefore quickly got bored. However as time has gone on and I have taken on projects OmniFocus seems like it could really help me out. Plus the app has changed significantly from the version I used. I will add my study tasks, assignment preparations and reading lists into OmniFocus to keep track of everything. This will also be useful for all projects I have on the go, so will not only be used solely for studying tasks. I will have this on my iPad and iPhone to begin with as I use these a lot more during the day, when random thoughts are more likely to pop into my head. 

Drafts 

I have this on my iPhone and iPad and I really like this tool for thoughts and ideas on the go. I have small lists within the app and I use these to capture ideas when a notebook is not handy. I also love using this app for long-running lists that outlive a notebook, such as blog ideas or reading lists. 

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Day One 

Day One is a great tool to capture and remember memorable moments and photographs. I have used this semi-regularly for some time but I think this could be a useful tool for my latest course. One way to develop and learn is having an understanding of how you work and Day One will be perfect to capture my study progress as well as anything I create. 

iA Writer 

I use iA Writer as my Markdown editor of choice. I will use this to write my assignments and then export the plain text files once complete ready for submission. I really like the layout of iA Writer. I use this in dark mode usually on full screen. I have the apps on both my Mac and iPad and share documents through Dropbox so I can pick up and edit documents on both devices. 

In Summary

Obviously on top of this list of study tools, pens and pencils will come into play. I am not outlining these items in this post as these will change throughout the year. My monthly loadout posts will give all the details about the tools I am using during that particular month.  

I am aware as time goes on that this list of study essentials will undoubtedly change, in particular with the apps, but for starters I think this is a pretty solid set-up. If anyone has any recommendations for apps useful for studying please let me know. 

 

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project is a library resource that digitally archives peoples artwork created within a custom notebook. Browsing through the site there are lots of varying examples of sketches, typography, photographs and doodles. If you buy the right 'plan' your notebook gets uploaded onto The Sketchbook Projects digital archive and people, like me, can scan through your pages. As it stands they have over 17,000 sketchbooks included in the archives, so the resource is huge. 

I am always so envious of people who can draw and create beautiful artwork. The ability to transfer images from your mind onto paper leaves me in a kind of dazed confusion. I am not sure I would ever be able to do that, although I am aware practice is the key. In the mean time I could spend hours looking at people's creations.   

So if you have some time, take a look at the Sketchbook Project. Some notebooks I have enjoyed scanning through are the view from up here, can you hear her? and passport to now and then.  

I will be visiting New York in September and may take a trip to Brooklyn to visit the library itself, so if you have been I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.