The new Instax Square TLR from MiNT – Johnny Martyr Thought & Photography

By Johnny Martyr

MiNT is a Chinese company that started with expert vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera repair and customization in 2009. In 2015, they released their very own new instant film camera, the InstantFlex TL70 twin lens reflex.

The TL70 is just one of several new instant film cameras and accessories created by this innovative start-up. On its own, the TL70 is something photographers have never seen before; Aperture-priority twin-lens reflex camera with a stylish built-in flash that uses common and affordable Fujifilm Instax Mini film.

The camera is an enhanced alternative to the point-and-shoot Instax cameras available from Fuji as it gives the photographer much finer control over composition and exposure. And of course, it’s so much fun to go with such amazing cosmetics.

It’s hard to imagine how MiNT could improve or expand on this popular design, but the instant movie powerhouse has declared the heir to the throne; MinT InstantFlex TL70 Plus.

More than just a follow-up, the TL70 Plus responds to criticism of its debut model while bringing trending technology in the film community to this smart makeover.

For starters, the TL70 Plus is a square format camera, as is the classic 120 roll film camera that defines its legacy. The original TL70 used Fuji Instax Mini, a portrait-oriented rectangular image film. But the TL70 Plus uses the newer Fuji Instax Square integral instant film, which produces a 62mm x 62mm (2.44″ x 2.44″) print with a proportional border of 72mm x 86mm (2.83″ x 3.38″) .

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TL70 Plus, features the same f/5.6, f/6.7, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22 aperture scales as the TL70 but automatic and with 1 stop plus/minus and shutter control bulb is now auto or fully manual and features speeds A+1, A-1, B, T, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1 /2, and 1. Amazingly it can also do slow time exposures that max out at a staggering ten minutes.

This amount of exposure control is rare among instant film cameras and will be welcomed by experienced and student film photographers alike. It’s often difficult to learn how to shoot movies completely manually because one can’t preview the results. But with a camera like the TL70 Plus, students can learn the Exposure Triangle interaction (all Instax Films are ISO 800 rated) in minutes.

As well as taking advantage of modern instant film formats, the TL70 Plus also incorporates the trending OLED meter screen technology. Many 35mm cameras use LED meter displays that rely on three simple light-emitting diodes to abstractly indicate over, under, and precise exposure. But the TL70 Plus shows the photographer “all the information you need – shutter speed and aperture indicators, ND filter reminder and B/T mode countdown timer.” Impressive indeed, and even better, it’s tucked neatly into the viewfinder blind for excellent visibility when shooting.

The TL70 Plus adds an AR anti-reflective coating to its beautiful fresnel viewfinder with a 1:1 ratio and is 33% larger than the older model.

“One of the TL70’s most beloved features, PLUS goes one step further with a 33% larger viewfinder to fit square film sizes, elegantly keeping the preview-to-image ratio at 1:1, and brighter this time. ” – Mint Camera

As with the TL70, the flash unit is hidden behind the front-facing camera’s nameplate. Vintage style cues don’t get distracted when adding functionality. And now the flash unit is auto-balancing.

The crown jewel of the refinement is the TL70’s 3-element glass lens. Now featuring aspherical and multi-layered elements to maximize sharpness and minimize flare.

The beloved features of the original TL70 are retained. The new camera still focuses fully manually with a minimum distance of 0.7 m (27.6 inches). Multiple-exposure is still easy with the unique dedicated eject button. Arguably, they are even easier to control with manual shutter speeds too. And exposed sheets of film are still spit out from the open viewfinder curtain which doubles as an intuitive on/off switch – perhaps the most elegantly designed feature of any of these cameras.

Only 400 MiNT TL70 Plus cameras are currently available to owners of earlier MiNT models or a limited number of those on their early bird list. No date has been set for when the new TLR will be available to everyone, but it will retail for $699.99 USD. The camera comes with an extraordinary five-year warranty and a lifetime VIP membership that allows extended warranty and discounts on film or other product purchases.

(All photos and quotes are from MiNT Camera)

Thanks for reading and happy shooting

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