Cooling Off in Telluride + Fujifilm Instax Camera

The trip posts keep coming! I swear we don’t travel THAT much, but our travel IS heavily concentrated in the summer months when it’s a bazillion degrees in New Orleans and you can’t even walk from the front door to the car without feeling those dreaded beads of sweat forming on your back. Pretty much everything about a New Orleans summer is a disaster — daily downpours that flood the streets, stores and restaurants that feel like meat lockers because the A/C is pumping so hard, and humidity so thick that even your shoes are drenched in sweat after any type of outdoor activity. Seriously, it’s beyond gross. So we try our best to get the heck out of here as much as possible from May-September, and then laugh at all of our Northern friends when they’re buried in snow and we’re frolicking around the tennis courts and golf courses in January #sorrynotsorry!

I honestly can’t think of a better place to go to escape the dreadful heat than Colorado. The air is crisp and the nights are chilly, and it’s just everything we DON’T get during a New Orleans summer. Lucky for us my parents live in Telluride, and we were able to zip out West for a long weekend and a reprieve from Dante’s Inferno.

Prior to the trip, I had been researching cameras like crazy. I love my iPhone, and mobile phone cameras have come an incredibly long way in the past 10 years. So call me crazy, but I reallllly want a legit camera. A DSLR, or at least one of the nice mirrorless versions. However, I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger yet (if you couldn’t tell, I do an insane amount of research before I buy anything), so I opted for another (much less expensive) camera that has been on my list — the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 (Neo Classic). I don’t know when these cameras became all the rage, but I’ve seen them all over the internet the past year or so. My guess is that it’s part nostalgia and part fun. Instant cameras are also a gadget that kids can mess around with while Mom and Dad play with the more expensive toys. While I don’t have any kids, I do consider myself to be a kid in an adult’s body, so this is the perfect toy to keep me entertained while I continue to mull over whether or not to drop $2,000-3,000 on a big girl camera.

“Instant Cameras” are essentially modern-day Polaroid cameras. Not to be confused with digital photo printers that connect to your smartphone and can instantly print your digital photos. There are several instant cameras on the market to choose from, but after doing plenty of reading I settled on one of Fujifilm’s offerings. Honestly, there are not a TON of differences between the options that are out there. The photo quality is all fairly similar, and the price tags are as well. I chose the Instax series because it was one of the first that I started noticing around the internet and had seen several bloggers and friends using them. I read reviews, visited websites, and even checked them out at Best Buy before finally settling on the Instax 90. Fujifilm’s website also has a handy comparison chart that explains the differences between each model. The Instax 90 is not the low-end model, but it’s not the highest-end model either. The basic model really does feel like something made for a little kid (comes in fun colors, basic shooting mode only). Mine is a small step up from that, but I felt like I was getting quite a few more options for only a slightly higher price tag. I’ll note some of the camera features/specs at the bottom of the post for those of you that are interested.

These instant cameras follow the printer and razor business model. While you’re only going to drop ~$100-150 on the actual camera, where you’ll really spend your money is on the film cartridges. Each cartridge takes 10 photos, but you can find double-packs (20 photos) all over the internet for under $15 (i.e. Amazon, Walmart). I tried to be fairly conservative with my photo-taking on our trip and only used 1.5 film packs in four days. However, I imagine if you put this camera in the hands of a small child, they would tear through multiple film packs in no time at all. So parents beware.

The camera was ready-to-use right out of the box, but after taking a few photos and not loving the quality of them, I decided to check out the manual (I felt so defeated!). It proved to be a helpful exercise because as mentioned above, the Instax 90 does have several shooting modes. So once I played around with the settings a little bit, I was much happier with the final product. Keep in mind that this IS a $125 camera, so you aren’t going to produce visual masterpieces. You can check out a few of my shots below to see what I mean. I do think I overexposed a few of the outdoor shots (let too much light in; photos look a bit washed out), but I was always hurriedly walking around with my family and they got annoyed by my stopping every 5 min. to take a photo (such haters!).

Overall I’m happy with the purchase. It wasn’t a huge investment (I know this is all relative), and I think it’s a “toy” that I’ll use on many of our future trips. And even though my family full of grumpsters complained about the endless picture taking interruptions, they did admit that it was a pretty cute little camera.

It’s worth noting that the other major player on the market that I looked at was the Polaroid Snap. It functions a little bit differently than the Instax and I can’t comment on it from personal usage, but if you’re interested here are a couple of helpful articles that compare the two:

Cool Kids Stuff – Comparison Article

NerdWallet – Comparison Article

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Features + Notes:

  • Macro Mode for shooting a subject at close range (i.e. a bee sitting on a flower)
  • Self-Timer Mode (can set it to take one or two photos at a time)
  • 3 Flash Modes (flash, flash with red-eye removal, no flash)
  • Brightness Adjustment (L = lighten, L+ = lighten even more, D = darken)
  • 5 Shooting Modes
    • Party — makes the background brighter
    • Kids — for shooting a fast-moving subject (haven’t tried it, but skeptical)
    • Landscape — for shooting a distant object
    • Double Exposure — two subjects are photographed in one photo
    • Bulb — keeps shutter open longer; helpful for night photos
  • Great battery life — the camera has been sitting in my room for about three weeks and has only lost one bar of life
  • Comes with a nice neck strap that helped when carrying it around all day
  • The size of the camera’s body is a bit awkward, so during most of the trip I kept it slung around my neck. However, you can buy official cases and other accessories.
  • The Instax 90 comes in black and brown and has a neat old-school camera look. The material/build feels sturdy, which was a bit of a surprise. I was definitely expecting cheap plastic.


And if you’ve made it this far and want to see some higher quality photos from our trip, keep scrolling (all of these were shot with an iPhone 7)!

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Telluride has a free gondola that runs from downtown Telluride to Mountain Village, and back. We were staying in Mountain Village and my parents live in town, so we enjoyed this incredible view a couple of times a day!
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I LOVE Farmers’ Markets, and Telluride’s did not disappoint. It runs every Friday from June 2 – October 13, 10:30 am – 4 pm. Fresh-squeezed lemonade, homemade popsicles, and local chocolate…just a few of the delicious treats you’ll find waiting for you!
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My Fitbit put in some serious work during our trip. These are a couple of scenes from one of the many walks/hikes that we took.

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Telluride’s Main St. is where it’s at. Boutiques, restaurants, bars, (and even a few pot shops) all wrapped up into a cute little mountain mining town package.
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At this point, we were sufficiently covered in dirt, sweat, and sunscreen. But the scenery in Colorado makes it hard for even the most ragged looking folks (us!) to take a bad photo!
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At the top of Bear Creek Trail! The mist coming off of the waterfall was literally the greatest thing in the world.
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After all the steps we logged, we definitely treated ourselves. If you want a killer burger or steak, check out The Sheridan Chophouse in downtown Telluride. Other great spots — Brown Dog Pizza, the Gyro Cart + Grilled Cheese Cart (both by the courthouse), Baked in Telluride (donuts + bagels), Taco Del Gnar (get the queso with chorizo!), Allred’s (incredible views!), Tomboy Tavern, Floradora Saloon, Telluride Truffle (ice cream and other goodies!), and Smuggler’s
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We visited during what the locals call “Monsoon Season”, which brought short spurts of heavy afternoon rain but left us with beautiful rainbows and sunsets. Photo Credit: Mike Fitzhugh





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