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mikemgb

My Review of the Sofort

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First, let me state, the Sofort is not about image quality, if you want quality prints an iPhone and your local one hour processor will undoubtedly produce better results than Instax paper, and obviously considerably larger. The box shows some very nice crisp images apparently on instant paper, this may be slightly exaggerated, you're not going to get that quality!

 

 

The Sofort is about fun, instant photos you can share and give away. It's about introducing kids to photography, hand them a Sofort and watch them learn – and be prepared to spend a lot of money on film! The Sofort can also be used as a tool for art, if you have a project that needs images that are almost, but not quite, as good as 1970s Polaroids then the Sofort is perfect for you.

 

My goals are to use it for all three above, parties, social gatherings, let kids experience taking a “real” photograph for the first time, and January 1st I'm starting a 365 Project, 1 instant photo per day that at the end of the year will tell a story.

 

Since picking up the camera this morning I have taken three photographs with it, my subjects were a family member – my wife, a tourist attraction – the St. Louis Arch, and a cat. As we all know these are three of the more most commonly photographed subjects on the internet, as for the fourth, I don't do selfies so I will just assume the camera is also good at them. But since I now have a representative sample of three quarters of the photographs the camera will be used for I feel totally qualified to comment on it.

 

 

On to the camera, first, it is smaller than I expected, it easily fits into a jacket pocket, this will make using it every day easy.

 

First task obviously was to load the battery, the battery door is a cheesy, flimsy piece of plastic that is not hinged to the camera and could be easily lost. If you do give this camera to a child tape that door shut! Loading the film is easy and it just takes a few seconds for the camera to spit out the dark slide.

 

Now you're ready to take pictures. By default the camera switches on in portrait mode, flash is on auto and focus is set for 0.3-6m. Changing the focus is accomplished my twisting the focus ring round the lens You twist and release when it springs back to its rest position, subsequent twists cycle it through the two focus ranges.

 

There are various scene modes, such as sport, macro, double exposure, long exposure and selfie mode. These are the only control you have over exposure, aperture is fixed at f12.7, shutter varies between 1/8 and 1/400 second. Selfies are made easy with the addition of a selfie mirror on the front of the camera.

 

There is an exposure compensation button, which allows you to lighten or darken the image by 2/3 stop, presumably that adjusts the shutter speed. The flash has all the modes you would expect from a compact camera with red-eye reduction, forced on and forced off, as well as the default auto. The camera has a self timer with either 2s or 10s selectable.

 

Once you have taken a photo the camera spits it out in a few seconds, at that point it is white, the image starts to develop over the next few minutes. The instructions state you get an image in 4 minutes, while this is true it actually takes about 15 minutes for the image to fully develop, you see a gradual improvement and strengthening of the image in that 11 minutes after it is “ready”.

 

Finally, ergonomics, the camera comes with a neck strap, I've elected not to use that and fitted a wrist strap instead, I feel that will suit the way I intend to use the camera better.

 

The grip when shooting landscape is awkward, there is nowhere to put the fingers of your right hand, so far though I have only used the camera in portrait orientation and for that everything is right where it should be for ease of use, I'm sure this is something I will get used to very quickly, after all I use a Barnack all the time and they're not exactly ergonomic delights!

 

Anyway, I'm glad I got the camera, it is fun, I'm interested to see if mono film is better quality than colour, I have two rolls on order.

Edited by mikemgb

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Hi Mike

I have the Sofort for fun. I have found that I prefer B&W to colour so far, but there's lots of time to change my mind. Going to try frost photos in the morning!

 

Rosie

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My 2 packs of monochrome were delivered yesterday, I have 8 shots left on my current pack so I will load it up as soon as it is done.

 

I found very quickly that this camera doesn't like deep shadow, it loses all detail, but if the subject is brightly and evenly lit the photos aren't too bad. The flash is pretty useless, it's good for lighting up a group of people right in front of the camera but a room? Forget it.

 

Having said this, the camera is fun, my daughter (26 years old) pronounced it "cool" and took several of the photos I took of her!

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A very quick follow-up.

 

I'm 93 days into using this camera daily, after about 150 shots I'm learning how to get a fairly decent picture out of it.

 

It's surprisingly good at portraits, put it in macro mode, leave the flash on auto and it will produce a decent head and shoulders. The flash is good only for close range objects, it'll do a group of three people close cropped, further than that it is useless. In a brightly lit room you can turn the flash off and get decent results.

 

Outdoors is also challenging, the film is best suited to soft sunlight. Shadows turn black, brightly lit areas blow out. After a while though you learn to compensate using the built in exposure compensation. The hardest thing to learn has been to remember to change the focus mode from the default close-up when shooting outdoors. Landscape photos are out of focus if you don't change it.

 

I tried mono film, I found it to be pretty awful, quality is worse than colour, plus it isn't a true black and white, pictures have a slight colour cast.

 

One thing I am very impressed with is battery life, I charged it the day I got the camera, 95 days and 150 shots later it is still showing 2/3 power.

 

In conclusion, I stand by my initial assessment, Instax film sucks, but the sofort is a lot of fun. I have given away quite a few photos and the subject always appreciates it, especially millennials, a "permanent" photograph is something very special to them.

Edited by mikemgb

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Was in London about two weeks ago. It wasn't very sunny. Shot about 80 pictures, only 1 was underexposed inside The Royal Exchange. Used the Leica branded Instax color film. Here at random one. It was super fun using the Sofort. The most significant advantage of the Sofort is when shooting at the 3 m to infinity setting, just turn the ring around the lens and the flash is default to off. With the Fuji mini 90 you have to press two buttons, one to set the flash to off and one to set to infinity. Also like the fact that the Sofort shoots default in landscape mode, most of the pictures I take.

 

Best

Edited by rjans

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A further update, just over 7 months into the year I have taken at least one photograph every day, I probably average 10 per week. Tonight I am charging the battery for the third time since I bought the camera, the indicator dropped to one third so I felt it was time.

 

Something I have learned since my last update, Instax sucks compared to Fuji FP-100C, but that point is moot since the Fuji film is now out of production. However, I have also learned that Instax is a whole lot better than Impossible SX-70. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that Impossible do what they do and will always buy their film but still, Instax sucks and Impossible sucks worse.

Edited by mikemgb

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My experience sofar with the Leica Sofort are also positive.

The compact dimensions are a pleasant surprise, easily fits in a pocket of my jacket.

There is one problem I have at the moment with the camera, the flash is not working anymore. Tried all settings without result.

Any ideas?

 

Jos.

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It sounds like you need to contact Leica, I wonder if they'll repair or just replace it?

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A further update, just over 7 months into the year I have taken at least one photograph every day, I probably average 10 per week. Tonight I am charging the battery for the third time since I bought the camera, the indicator dropped to one third so I felt it was time.

 

Something I have learned since my last update, Instax sucks compared to Fuji FP-100C, but that point is moot since the Fuji film is now out of production. However, I have also learned that Instax is a whole lot better than Impossible SX-70. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled that Impossible do what they do and will always buy their film but still, Instax sucks and Impossible sucks worse.

 

 

I also have a Polaroid 190 that uses pack film, sadly all discontinued. Still have some FP 100-C and FP 3000-B in the fridge. The peel apart films are far better than Instax, but being a long term user of instant (+/- 46 years) I hope that Impossible continues to produce and improve their film.

 

Meanwhile I'm having fun with the Sofort and when I want bigger pictures I use the Fuji Instax 500AF.

 

Here's one this spring in a Japanese garden. Exposure setting at darken.

 

Best

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My experience sofar with the Leica Sofort are also positive.

The compact dimensions are a pleasant surprise, easily fits in a pocket of my jacket.

There is one problem I have at the moment with the camera, the flash is not working anymore. Tried all settings without result.

Any ideas?

Jos.

Have you tried to remove the battery and put the battery back after a minute or so? If that does not help you should contact Leica.

 

Best

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My problem with Instax products is the resolution of the pictures (the poor lenses of these cameras may be a reason for that) and the small size of the prints. 

 

I would like a printer (not a camera) with larger print sizes and better resolution. 

 

Instax film is a good idea. Not as good as old polaroids but far better than ZeroInk paper (also super small prints!) and Impossible Project's. 

 

If I remember well, Fuji's instant film comes from Kodak ill fated attempt of a competitor for Polaroid instant film. Kodak outsourced the production to Fuji, and when Polaroid won the trial for patents violation to Kodak Fuji kept many of the secrets of Kodak. 

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My problem with Instax products is the resolution of the pictures (the poor lenses of these cameras may be a reason for that) and the small size of the prints. 

 

I would like a printer (not a camera) with larger print sizes and better resolution. 

 

Instax film is a good idea. Not as good as old polaroids but far better than ZeroInk paper (also super small prints!) and Impossible Project's. 

 

If I remember well, Fuji's instant film comes from Kodak ill fated attempt of a competitor for Polaroid instant film. Kodak outsourced the production to Fuji, and when Polaroid won the trial for patents violation to Kodak Fuji kept many of the secrets of Kodak. 

 

The resolution of Instax films is indeed limited. I found earlier this year an article on Figital Revolution and as far as I remember Instax wide was compared using an Instax camera and a camera with a real glass lens and the difference was noticible. Next to my Soforts I also got a Lomo Instant Automat Glass. It delivers slight sharper images but the glass lens is very prone to flair and is 21 mm equivalent, a little wide for my taste. Exposure is not always consistent and flash does not cover the frame. So in the end the Lomo is not really convincing. It's good for indoor low light (f 4.5). For general use the Sofort is much better ans easier to operate.

 

I also have some ZINK devices but don't like it that much, sharper pictures but colors are not very good depending on the device and photo's tend to show stripes. Impossible became now Polaroid Originals (film is produced by Impossible in The Netherlands). The current film is not yet up to the quality of the former Polaroid but has much improved. Just tested a 600 type pack with my Polaroid SLR-680.

 

 

Best

Edited by rjans

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Still like my Sofort and its handling and portability for instant pictures taking into account the small pictures. The Sofort storage boxes are perfect. In the past I used dedicated albums for Instax mini photos however that solution requires more space. Just started using a second pack of monochrome film and meanwhile Fuji released a monochrome Wide film. It's not up to the result you have with for example a Kodak Tri-X or in the past the b&w peel apart instant films from Polaroid and Fuji but I like the option we have. 

 

Best

 

 

 

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I just got a "Sofort" ten days ago. I have several Instax and Polaroid cameras including a 330 for packfilm (still some in the fridge).

But it is the Sofort I took to a home game of the Marburg Mercenaries I was shooting the roster shots for. And giving some Instax photos to the the girls who helped before the game and during half-time break was a fun treat for them. They were thrilled, first by the looks of the camera and then by the pictures they could take home as a memory.

 

BTW, the Leica Sofort is much, much better than the Lomography Instanx Mini I also have!

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BTW, the Leica Sofort is much, much better than the Lomography Instanx Mini I also have!

Congrats with the Sofort. I presume you compared it with the “Lomo’Instant”, the first they released through Kickstarter and uses the Instax mini film. I’ve shot 12 pictures with that Lomo, only 2 acceptable, the others horrible. Still have it somewhere in a box but never used it again, that was a waste.

 

Enjoy your Sofort!

 

Best

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Still like my Sofort and its handling and portability for instant pictures taking into account the small pictures. The Sofort storage boxes are perfect. In the past I used dedicated albums for Instax mini photos however that solution requires more space. Just started using a second pack of monochrome film and meanwhile Fuji released a monochrome Wide film. It's not up to the result you have with for example a Kodak Tri-X or in the past the b&w peel apart instant films from Polaroid and Fuji but I like the option we have. 

 

Best

Very nice! Take a look at Trevor Crone’s work with a Mint 670. If you’re on Facebook you’ll find him at The Impossible Project, along with others. If you haven’t seen it, I think you might like it.

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Very nice! Take a look at Trevor Crone’s work with a Mint 670. If you’re on Facebook you’ll find him at The Impossible Project, along with others. If you haven’t seen it, I think you might like it.

 

 

Thank you, yes the MiNT SLR 670 s can be used total manually with a fixed aperture of f 8. It's not cheap and the quality of the Polaroid Originals films are not up to the quality of Instax based instant film. But the format is so iconic.

However MiNT is working on a InstankonRF70, a rangefinder (not coupled in the viewfinder, but separate) with apertures from f 5.6 to 22, manual or auto exposure. I'm following this close. The camera looks like a MF Voigtänder folding camera. A first impression of a prototype can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW4KBniSLg4.

The price will be higher than the SL 670 s.

 

Best

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Stil using and having fun with the Sofort using the Leica Instax monochrome instant film. Here's one of today. Did not have much time to take the shot without disturbing the people looking at the man and because it was in the shade quickly turned to 3m-infinity and set to darken. Could have been better if it was taken closer but that required also to disable the flash.

 

 

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