The History of Fujifilm Instax film

Fujifilm instax instant camera banner

Film photography and the use of analogue cameras is on the rise, and Fujifilm with their line of instax cameras is one of the companies leading the charge. With 90 years of experience under their belt, their wealth of knowledge of not just photography, but customer habits, makes them stand out from the rest – even more so when you delve into their Instax range!

Fujifilm instax cameras have revolutionised the world of instant photography since their introduction. Let's take a journey through the history of these iconic cameras.


1970s and 1980s: The Birth of Instant Photography

In the 1970s, instant photography was at its peak, with Polaroid dominating the market. Fujifilm saw an opportunity to enter the instant photography industry and began developing their own instant cameras. Fujifilm launched their instant photography journey with the creation of the Fotorama system in 1981. This was compatible with Kodak and Fujifilm's offerings at the time. Fujifilm in 1984 introduced their own line of pack film which was a peel apart instant film designed for their passport camera systems. Fujifilm avoided the US market in these years due to Polaroid suing Kodak over patent violations relating to their instant film line. These hearings continued the entire way until the 1990's limiting Fujifilm's ability to expand.

1998: The Launch of Fujifilm Instax Cameras

In 1998, Fujifilm launched their first instax camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 10. This camera was a game-changer, offering instant photo prints in a compact and portable design. This was combined with a new format of instant film called 'instax'. Fujifilm originally wanted to release the Instax series worldwide including North America and Europe simultaneously, but decided to work with Polaroid on the mio camera based on the Instax mini 10/20 for the US market. 

Polaroid Mio instant camera

2000s: The Rise in Popularity

Throughout the 2000s, in Japan Fujifilm instax cameras gained popularity among a wide range of users, from casual photographers to professional artists. The ease of use and instant gratification of these cameras made them a hit. This was not the case in North America, and Fujifilm pulled out of the North American market entirely between the years 2003 and 2008.

Following the discontinuation of Polaroid instant film in 2008, Fujifilm began to export more of their instant film products to overseas markets. In November 2008 the Instax Wide format was introduced in the US with the Instax 200 camera. The Instax mini series of cameras and films were reintroduced and became available in the US during the second half of 2009, with the instax mini 7 becoming especially popular.

double exposure on a lomo instant mini of a lady and arms on instax fujifilm film

2010s: Innovation and Expansion

In the 2010s, Fujifilm continued to innovate their instax camera line, introducing new features such as improved image quality, creative shooting modes, and new formats. 

Fujifilm began producing bluetooth instax printers allowing users to print directly from their smartphone.

In 2019, Fujifilm Instax sold over 10 million cameras. An impressive jump from the 100,000 cameras that they sold in 2004, 15 years previously.

Present: Fujifilm Instax Today

Today, Fujifilm instax cameras are more popular than ever, with a wide range of models to choose from. From the classic instax Mini 12 to the new digital instax pal, Fujifilm continue to innovate and push the limits with instant photography. Fujifilm currently offer 3 formats of instant film, mini, square and wide

Fujifilm's chemistry has become the gold standard in instant film photography with companies like Lomography using instax mini film in their Lomo'instant mini line of cameras and their more advanced models using the square and wide versions of the film.

With the adoption of Fujfilm's instax film by other manufacturers the future possibilities of instax are endless.

Fujifilm instax Timeline

Fujifilm instax instant film photography timeline

1998: The Instax Mini 10 is released, Fujifilm’s first instant Instax camera

1999: One year later, Instax releases the Wide 100, a wide format camera with a larger landscape print.

2014: The first printer is released, the Share SP-1, allowing users to print photos directly from their smartphone.

2017: The Instax Square SQ10 is released, the first square format camera (also hybrid!).

2019: Instax releases the Mini LiPlay, the first hybrid instant and digital camera in the mini range.

2023: The Instax Pal is released, a pocket-sized camera that links to your printer.



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