Instant cameras are making a comeback in Japan as the colorful, boxy film-based devices capture the hearts of young women.
The cameras, which let people print photos on the spot, offer new ways to enjoy online photo-sharing as well, helping them defy the sales slump hurting their digital camera counterparts.
Fujifilm Corp.’s instax, also known as the cheki, began seeing a sharp increase in sales around 2012, when smartphones started to become popular.
The top-selling instax models sell for around ¥10,000 to ¥20,000. Fujifilm expects to sell a record high 7.5 million units combined at home and overseas in fiscal 2017.
Although the images lack the high definition provided by modern smartphone cameras, the photos taken by instant cameras offer the soft tones unique to film — one reason why they are drawing renewed interest.
“We might look prettier in photos taken by instant cameras, as they are more out of focus than photos taken on smartphones,” a 23-year-old female university student from Tokyo said.
Taking a picture with an instant camera photo placed against another background, the so-called photo-in-photo style, has become a fad with younger shutterbugs.
High-end models can digitize the photos and let you change the color tone before printing. Such functions are considered useful for making the “instagenic” photos popular on photo-sharing apps.
Chasing the boom, Germany’s Leica Camera AG released the Leica Sofort in 2016, priced at around ¥36,000.
“The camera is not just popular among young women but also with existing male Leica fans in their 40s to 50s,” a public relations official for Leica said.