Yes, you heard right, there is a Leica Camera for circa $300 on the market and it is a frighteningly cool, hispter-looking instant camera. The camera made the New York Times’ gift list for this past holiday season so I was eager to get my hands on it and give it a run for it’s money. Here’s what I found out!
The Leica Sofort has a much better viewfinder than most other instant cameras on the market today. Hurrah, finally!! I hear you chant. This camera is very cheap for a Leica product and boasts higher quality images than some of it's competitors in the industry. The retro design is fun and funky and would definitely appeal to millennials. The camera is definitely feature heavy, with multiple shooting modes. Even though it's features are complex, it is an easy to use and compact instant camera.
The camera is expensive for an instant camera. Why buy this when you can get something for less than $100 bucks. It has been considered a Fuji product with a Leica price tag by members of the photography community. As always, the instant film is expensive for these cameras. Especially the Leica instant film. However, you can get the Instax film for this camera which will save you a few bucks.
About the Leica Sofort Instant Camera
The Leica Sofort instant camera is a new and different product from Leica, (considering they have only released different models and styles of cameras previously) think high end compact DSLR and CSC cameras. With the Leica Sofort, you can develop your photos instantly (literally, at the click of a button) and I’ve found that the images come out in pretty superb quality.
But the camera just uses the Instax film! Doesn’t that make it just a jumped up Instax camera with a facelift and a strong brand name behind it?!
The camera does take Instax film, which comes in a hell of a lot cheaper than the Leica branded film.
What’s the difference? Filmwise – nothing; it is a Fuji product. End of. Border wise (is that even a saying huh?), the Leica has a cream border rather than the traditional white ‘polaroid’ border. Also, if you like to keep on brand with the film and the camera, then by all means purchase the Leica film. The most up to date prices on both the Instax and the Leica film can be found here. If you’re unsure and don’t really believe me about the lack of difference, I would suggest trying of one of each (maybe you have a friend that can give you a sheet of Leica film) and do a side by side comparison. I guarantee there won’t be much difference.
However, if we take a moment to get over the whole ‘film issue’. You will find that the Leica Sofort is a truly exceptional product with a great deal of extra features and functions you wouldn’t normally get from an instant camera.
- Automatik-Hektor 60mm f/12.7 lens- gives photographers the same focus as a 34mm full-frame lens with three-zone with manual focus sector will give.
- Compact body with clean buttons and navigation settings.
- 0.37x optical viewfinder.
- Can be used to target spot and helps in accurately composing images.
- Easy to use with multiple automatic shooting modes.
- Allows available light photography.
- Mechanical shutter with speed of 1/8 -1/400 seconds.
- Built in flash
Battery and Usage
The camera requires a rechargeable Li-on battery pack. After each charge photographers can take a minimum of 100 shots.
Film for the Leica
As I mentioned previously in this post the Leica has its own film or you can purchase the Instax film. There is a very slight difference in terms of size; the Instax film has an exposure area of 2.13″ x 3.4″ and the Leica film is 2” x 3” so you’re getting a slightly larger image in the Instax. The Instax film is also way cheaper, so that is an easy way to save a few bucks, especially when your’e paying hundreds of bucks for a camera. Find the latest prices here
Advantages of the Leica Sofort
The Sofort has some extremely beneficial features that allow photographers to create crisp, quality images, even if you are in a low light situation. This is because of its light fixture settings. The shadows have great detail and the highlights do not blowout, which can be a problem with other cameras. It has both color and monochromatic features that gives the instant pictures a warm border and feel. The black and white shots come out excellently on Fuji’s monochrome film.
The instant camera comes in beautiful portable packaging and is easy to carry around due to it’s light weight and sleek, simple design.
The camera is designed well, is easy to use and has a great build quality. You can shoot long exposures and even experiment on BULB mode and try some light trails.
It also boasts a self-timer feature with 2 and 10 seconds, delay settings, and can also be set up on a tripod, perfect for group shots, long exposures and of course, awesome selfies!
The number of different settings you can scroll through rival that of popular DSLR’s but I found this camera does it’s best when left to just point and shoot, kind of like a digital camera. Speaking of pointing and shooting, the viewfinder is a great size and isn’t some misleading protruding, bulky thing that does nothing in terms of lining up your shot like the Instax Wide 300.
Disadvantages of the Leica Sofort
There are really not many cons as such with this camera, but for some users the main controversy is it’s price point. It is an expensive, niche product where the results may not be worth the cost. if you already own the likes of the Instax Mini 90, or 70, you don’t really NEED this camera, the functionality of the one you own will produce similar quality prints.
The Verdict: Should you buy the Leica Sofort?
Well…I did. Generally, the only major concern that presented itself when reviewing this camera is whether or not it’s worth the price you will be paying for it and the thoughts of many photography lovers is that it is just a Fuji product with the Leica stamp and price tag. For some people, Polaroid style instant print cameras are a niche product and paying hundreds of dollars for Leica Sofort may feel excessive when there are other cameras on the market for much less.
If you already own the likes of the Fuji Instax Mini 70 or 90, then I probably wouldn’t recommend investing in this product as you will likely find that, side by side, the images are relatively similar. However, if you are new to the instant camera game and looking for a high quality feature rich analogue product then the Leica is very appealing.
Personally, I do really like it. For me, it’s a ticks all the boxes type of product. Great style, great functionality, a multitude of features and pretty excellent shots. Through my own research and testing of the product myself, I have not experienced any issues with the hardware or seen many complaints about camera’s durability or quality of pictures. If you’re interested in purchasing the Leica Sofort then you can see the latest prices here or click on one of the images below. If you did buy the camera, let me know what your personal thoughts were.