World’s First Twin-Lens Instant Camera – Mint InstantFlex TL70

Great things take time and It is definitely worth the long wait. Thanks to the passionate staffs at Mint, I managed to be one of the first few lucky ones to get hold of the world’s first twin lens instant camera – InstantFlex TL70!

When it was first announced back in March 2015, I fell in love with its timeless design instantly. Inspired by legendary twin-lens classic, Rolleiflex, the new InstantFlex TL70 offers hobbyists the best of both worlds; with an iconic leathery body powered by today’s most affordable instant-films (Fujifilm Instax Mini – about USD0.80 per film). Users of the now defunct Polaroid SX-70 pay up to USD3.50 per film manufactured by The-Impossible-Project. There is also a big time difference for instant photo development between the two. The Impossible Project films take about 20 minutes to develop while the FujiFilm films take less than a minute! Under such comparison, the new InstantFlex TL70 is a much more attractive and affordable option for those who are into instant manual-photography.

Priced at USD319, the TL70 does cost a lot more than the usual FujiFilm instant camera, however, it provides more control for those who are familiar with manual camera. It comes with a built-in flash, 2 shooting modes (auto or bulb) and a wide aperture range of f/5.6, f/8, f/16, f/22, f/bokeh with special bokeh. It also feels good and solid in the hands – not too heavy or light (at about 560g including batteries). For those who enjoy lomography or instagram effects, you will like this camera. Don’t expect to get “picture-perfect” shots in the first few trials as it takes a couple of tests to get familiar with its settings. The camera comes with a small photography-guide-booklet to teach beginners how to get nice shots.

The TL70 reminds me of another classic-looking camera by Fujifilm, Instax 60 Neo. I tested the InstantFlex TL70 alongside against it today. Loading the film cartridge and camera batteries (3 AA) was no-brainer but it took me a much longer time (30-45 seconds to compose the shot) with the TL70 as I need to adjust the focus and aperture to get the right lighting. Despite the extra effort, the TL70 produced a photo with much stronger depth and softer mood. Taking photo with Instax Neo was much quicker (less than 5 secs) and easier to focus. Using automatic mode, Neo produced a 100% focused and guaranteed-sharp photography but it was lacking in terms of depth and mood. I took a second shot with Neo (without any flash) but it turned up too dark.

Throughout my first 2-hour trial, there were a couple of limitations I faced using the TL70. These are standard limitations with all waist-level view-finder-cameras. Due to the position of its view-finder, I was unable to take a food shot from the top. Under dim lighting, it was difficult for me to look at the subject through the view-finder (thankfully, Mint added a magnifying glass on top of the view-finder window). The TL70 doesn’t come with any accessory or bag, It was a little uncomfortable for me (considering I have bigger hands than my female friend) to handle the knobs on the camera without any neck strap.

Overall, I love the TL70 (if not, I won’t even blog this in the first place). It was quite an amazing moment when I saw my first shot coming out from the view-finder. Without any doubt, the TL70 provides more options (multiple exposure, bulb setting, aperture setting) for creative photography. I am pretty sure Mint will produce more accessories (coloured filters, special lens, camera straps and bag) for hobbyists to enhance their shooting. If only FujiFilm produces black-&-white instant films, this will be the perfect instant camera for all! Till then, this will be a very cool camera to carry around. For me, I won’t bring it out to rowdy big parties as it will take up to 45 seconds to focus and compose the shots. I will use it for small gatherings between good friends/families and solo trips. Thank you Mint for this beautiful product. It is worth the wait! (For those who want to get this, click here to order: https://mint-camera.com/tl70/)

5 Responses to World’s First Twin-Lens Instant Camera – Mint InstantFlex TL70

  1. Paul says:

    Hello Wahbiang and Richard, I ordered few weeks ago the TL70 (can’t wait to have it in my hands).
    My first question : I ask Matt day photo about an issue he is confronted with about the shutter’s blade malfonction that causes overexposed images. (https://twitter.com/MattDayPhoto/status/654359975792390144).
    he reply to me that this issue still exist and he was waiting for MINT to send another one.
    Did one of you two encountered this issue ?

    My second question is for Richard as he lives in France like me. what about the “frais de douane” : what was the cost to add for an international shipping.

    Thanks a lot
    Cheers

    • Wahbiang says:

      Hi Paul, I tried the camera and have no issue with the shutter’s blade. Most of my films’ colours are very rich and deep. The only problem I have is the “flash”, it is mostly useless in the day or at night.

  2. Richard says:

    I received my TL70 this week (France). What do you think about the built in flash ?
    With my TL70+flash it’s very easy to made overexposed or underexposed pictures.

    • Wahbiang says:

      After trying for a week, it is much easier to handle as a “day-camera” than night. I had the same issue with the flash – in my opinion, the light indicator (green/red) does not give an accurate reading like those in old 35mm manual camera. “Green” can be way overexposed instead of perfect lighting. I try as much not to use the flash in the day or bright indoor as it will wash out and “flatten” the subjects. I adjust the aperture to achieve the ideal shot.

      It is very difficult to focus in dim lighting or in the dark unless the subjects are clearly lit. For me, when I use the flash in the night, I keep it within 0.75-1m range to achieve a good shot. Anything further than that, it may be underexposed. Closer than 0.5m, it is over-exposed.

      • richard says:

        Thanks for answer. I have the same conclusion.
        For me exposure with flash is not accurate. I contact MiNT and i have asked for a table on the flash like vintage models: (flash range vs aperture)

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