As with any camera, the more you practice with the I-1, the better your photos will be. The following tips are designed to help you get great results, no matter what the conditions. To sum up the most important points:
- Make sure your light source is behind you when you shoot
- Keep the ring flash on in all conditions - the more light in your shot, the sharper it will be
- Remember the lighten/darken switch - use it to brighten indoor shots or darken sunny outdoor shots
- Press the shutter button halfway in to focus on your subject before you take a photo
- The camera’s viewfinder sits a little above the lens - remember to allow for this when composing a photo at close distances, so your subject remains in the center
How to get the best exposure
Light conditions are everything when you’re taking an instant photo. We recommend that you always keep your light source behind you when you shoot, whether that’s the sun or an indoor lamp. Also always make sure you use the ring flash - it provides the best possible lighting by adapting to the ambient light already in the scene. You can also use the I-1’s lighten/darken switch to add or remove brightness. When shooting in dull outdoor light, or shooting anywhere at night, move the switch up to the lighten position. Or when shooting in very bright conditions, move it down to the darken position.
FLASH NO FLASH
How to line up your shot
The I-1 uses a mechanical pop-up viewfinder with reflective silver markings that help you to align the camera correctly for a well-composed shot. The viewfinder is most accurate when you hold it 4 – 5cm away from your eye. To use the alignment markings, follow these steps:
- Close one eye and hold your camera out in front of you, at first about 20cm away from your face.
- Train your eye on the silver dot on the viewfinder’s rear lens. Move the camera until the silver dot is in the center of the circle on the front lens.
- Move the camera towards you until the viewfinder is 4–5 cm away from your eye. The dot will become blurry but should still be visible inside the circle. You’ll see that the view through the viewfinder has become sharp.
- Remember that the viewfinder sits above the camera’s lens, so at very close distances (1.2 meters or less), you will need to aim higher than what you see in the viewfinder to compose your shot correctly.
Note: See the diagram below.
REAR LENS DOT IN THE CENTER
REAR LENS DOT NOT CENTERED
How to make photos indoors
Instant film loves light - more than you might expect. Always use the flash when shooting indoors, even when you don’t think you need it. If the light indoors is dull, then move the lighten/darken switch up to the lighten position to brighten the scene. You can also try shooting near a window, with the window on one side of your subject - keep the flash on and make sure your camera is not facing the window directly when you take the photo, otherwise your shot will be overexposed.
FLASH, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH ON LIGHTEN
NO FLASH, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH ON DARKEN
How to make photos outdoors
Natural light is your best friend when it comes to instant photography. When shooting in bright, direct sunlight you may not need the power of the ring flash, but we recommend you keep it on in all situations just in case. Make sure that the sun is always behind you when you shoot. If your environment is very bright, you can try moving the lighten/darken switch down to the ‘darken’ position to let less light into the shot and ensure it isn’t blown out.
LIGHT BEHIND THE CAMERA, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH IN MIDDLE
LIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH IN MIDDLE
NO FLASH, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH IN MIDDLE
How to make photos at night
Getting a good photo at night means paying attention to the light already in the scene. You will need different settings whether you’re shooting at a party or trying to capture streetlight, for example. When shooting at a party (or in any indoor nighttime environment), you should always use the flash. Remember that the flash range ends after about 5-6 feet, so for best results make sure you’re within that distance when you shoot. The flash is more effective when shooting against a light colored background - you can also try moving the I-1’s lighten/darken switch up to get a brighter shot. When shooting landscapes at night, we recommend using a tripod or putting the camera on a steady surface.
FLASH NO FLASH
How to make great portraits
The I-1’s advanced ring flash is uniquely engineered to provide the perfect light for portraits. Always use the ring flash for your portrait shots, unless shooting in bright, direct sunlight. It’s best to be approximately 50-80cm away from your subject for a well-focused portrait shot. When composing your photo, press the shutter button halfway in to focus on your subject before pressing it all the way in to take the photo.
FLASH NO FLASH
How to shoot in different temperatures
Temperature affects how the film works. Keep it stored cold in the fridge (stacked flat), but never freeze it. Ideally you should let it adjust to room temperature before you use it. That’s around 13-28C (55-82F). When it’s cold out, keep your photos warm in a pocket close to your body while they develop. Or if it’s a hot day, make sure they stay cool. When photos develop in cold conditions, they appear more blue, while in warm conditions they appear more pink. Regulating for temperature helps to counteract this, but many instant photographers like to experiment with different temperatures to enhance the effect.
FLASH, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH IN MIDDLE, SHIELDED IN A POCKET
NO FLASH, LIGHTEN/DARKEN SWITCH ON LIGHTEN, LEFT IN THE LIGHT
NO FLASH, SHIELDED IN POCKET FLASH, LEFT IN THE LIGHT
How to handle the photo while it develops
Your instant photos will appear bluish grey at first. They’re most sensitive during this time, so don’t bend or shake them, and be sure to shield them from the light. They are shielded from the beginning when they are ejected underneath the I-1’s frog tongue. Continue shielding them by placing them face down as they develop, for at least the first 10 minutes. Always handle your instant photos by the frame, as touching the film surface may affect the image. Color changes over a time are an inevitable result of instant photography chemistry, but you can store your photos in a cool, dark place to slow down the process.
How to focus at different distances
The I-1’s shutter button has two positions: press it lightly halfway in to focus, and firmly all the way in to take a photo. You will feel a very subtle click when you reach the halfway position. Practice this a few times while the camera is switched off to get a feel for it.
To achieve the best possible focus at different distances, follow the guidelines in the table below. So for example if you want to take a macro or closeup photograph, you’ll get the best results when you are 0.3 - 0.5 meters away from your subject.
Macro photography: 0.3-0.5m
Group of friends: 0.8-2.0m
Medium range: 2.0-3.5m
Long range/landscape: 3.5-∞m
And remember, the more light on your subject, the sharper your image will be.
The I-1 uses infrared light to work out how far away the subject is. In order for this to work most effectively, your subject should be at the center of your composition while the camera is focusing. If you don’t want your subject to be in the center of your photo, first compose the shot with the subject at the center. Then press the shutter button halfway in to focus. To avoid a blurry photo, make sure you are at least 30cm away from your subject when you take the picture.
MEDIUM RANGE LANDSCAPE