The FujiFilm Instax SQ20 was launched in South Africa two months ago and I attended the event at Moyo Zoo Lake. I was lucky to have won one of these instant cameras on the day. Prior to that, I had the opportunity to play with a review unit for a week and included it in a print title I contribute to. So in a way, this is an unplanned blog post.

Long term blog readers might remember that I had bought three models in the range over the years, so yes, I’m a fan of the brand. Maybe it has something to do with me being an 80s kid, and FujiFilm bringing retro back. You can take a look at my previous posts here.

The SQ20 is an update to the hybrid SQ10, which was the first camera in the Instax range to mix analogue and digital, meaning you get to choose what image to print before printing it, vs the previous ones where you snap and it prints immediately. In a way, it has kind of evolved from what an instant camera supposed to be, which is ideal for the current generation who carefully curates their Instagram feeds. The SQ in the name means it prints in square format.

Features unique to the SQ20 are 4x digital zoom, and Frame Grab: the ability to print from a 15-second video clip, which is ideal for action shots. Probably not something most people would notice, but it has a smaller sensor now, compared to the previous model. It also does collages, filters, timeshift collages, double exposure, bulb mode (the shutter remains open while it is pressed), split mode (bits of multiple images appear on one image), and a selfie mirror.

Inside the box you get the camera, a wrist strap, a charging cable and the manual. It also includes a 16GB micro SD card and adapter. It has a non-removable battery, which charges in 2-3 hours, and prints up to 100 pictures on a single charge.

The camera itself is comfortable to hold, with two thumb grips on either side at the back. It has a 2.7-inch colour screen menu and a corresponding dial at the back to go through options, along with the film loading slot. To the side is a flap that houses the charging slot, micro SD card and a reset button. The nice thing about this camera is that it is suited for left- and right-handed individuals. There are two shutter buttons on either side and two options to attach the wrist strap. The selfie mirror is on the front, of course.

At the back is the power button, which lets you go to ‘motion’ mode or regular ‘photo’ mode. On the outside of the dial are various buttons, which admittedly is tricky to figure out initially. The centre Menu button takes you through the basic settings like shooting mode, flash, self-timer (2-10 seconds), framing guide, etc. Once you choose a mode, the button above the menu button will take you through different options, these include partial colour filters, and Instagram-like filters.

There are dedicated print and play buttons to go through pics you’ve taken and to re-print copies of the same pic if you’d like. Printing an image take about 12 seconds, and unlike a Polaroid you don’t have to shake it once it’s out. I’ve seen a lot of people do that, as well as incorrectly refer to it as a Polaroid. The film size is 2.8-inches and the image is 2.4-inches (62mm x 62mm) in a square format. There is space to write a caption or scribble a message.

There have been mixed reactions to this camera because you’re left wondering if this is still an instant camera? It may not print immediately but I think given the price of film, you really don’t want to end up with a bunch of expensive mistakes. This is an instant camera for the modern day, filled with so many tech features that I think will be appreciated by many. I would prefer to know what I’m about to print: let me edit, crop, or add a filter and preview it before printing, considering what I pay for film.

I like that you can still shoot if you run out of film as it is stored on the SD card, you can take a bunch of pics and only print the ones you think are the best, and also reprint the same photo if it’s a group shot. The image quality is alright, not the highest res but that’s not what this camera is about. On the downside, it could have had an option to share the images wirelessly.

The bottom line is that FujiFilm still manages to make cool instant cameras – now hybrid ones, that appeals to almost every age group. The SQ20 is a fun gadget to own or gift, and ideal for social situations, travel, or home use to capture precious family moments. It’s available in beige and black, and retails for R2895 on Orms Direct. Square film is available separately, at R189 for a pack of 10 on Takealot.