Camera Geekery: MiNT InstantFlex TL70 2.0

A while back we featured Joe Curzon‘s excellent review of the Original InstantFlex TL70, which was very well received. Now MiNT have upgraded the InstantFlex with the 2.0 version. And Joe has been kind enough to come back and give us another review. Check it out.

At the end of May MiNT camera announced their new InstantFlex TL70 2.0 along with some new accessories compatible with both the original and 2.0 TL70 including a camera strap and a lens set.

Having pre-ordered the original TL70, I was keen to get my hands on the 2.0 to see the difference. I got in touch with the good people at MiNT and asked for a review copy, they kindly sent me one to play with along with the lens set.

First thing you’ll notice about the TL70 2.0 compared to the original, is erm, nothing. The exteriors of the cameras are identical. The buttons and features are all in the same places on both cameras. There isn’t an extra badge on the front to say 2.0 or anything. This makes sense from a manufacturing point of view, if it isn’t broken, then why fix it?

It still takes 3 AA batteries and Fuji Instax Film.

Some MiNT Employees went to the old Rolleiflex factory in Germany for some inspiration. Apparently the Rolleiflex staff gave the MiNT team some tips on making a TLR. As a result they’ve added a new Fresnel anti-glare coated viewfinder to the camera. They claim it’s 5 times brighter than the original. It does indeed seem brighter, placed side by side you can see a clear difference. The magnifier is also larger.

Looking at the view finder, it’s the only real way to tell the difference between the original and the 2.0. The original has a crosshair in the middle, while the 2.0 does not and you see the rings from Fresnel lens on the viewfinder, along with a subtle purple reflection from the anti-glare coating.

MiNT offer an upgrade kit to upgrade the viewfinder, you can do this yourself following a YouTube video [], or send it into MiNT and let them upgrade it. They recommend the latter, but it really depends on how confident you are at taking cameras to bits.

The company found that some shutters were stuck in some cameras, so the 2.0 changed the internal design so shutter jamming shouldn’t happen anymore. The tension on the rollers has also been tweaked so the 3 white lines on the film will disappear quicker.

The new lens set works on both the 1.0 and 2.0. It comes with 3 Neutral Density Filters (ND2, ND4 and ND8), a close up lens that improves the original closed focusing distance from 48cm to 18cm, plus a lens hood to reduce glare. This set is interesting. It’s presented in a cardboard box, with spongy padding. The included microfibre cloth has the instructions printed on it, which is a nice touch. There isn’t any kind plastic case to put the lens filters in, which makes the set a lot less portable. The lens filters won’t let you clip the lens cap on either, so you can’t get things set up before you go out. I’m not certain how scratch resistant the lens filters are, so I’m not really keen on just throwing it in my bag without some kind of extra covering. You also can’t use the lens hood with the lens filters.

Mounting the lens filters is a bit tricky, they a very tight fit and first time I put them on it shaved a bit of the plastic off from the filter. I was worried I’d break it if I wasn’t careful. I hope future versions of these filters have more precise fit and also some kind of carry case.

Those issues aside the lens kit does work as advertised, the ND filters do adjust the exposure and I’m sure with some practice you’ll be able to get the effect you’re looking for. The close up lens was my favourite to play with. It’s great for getting those super up close shots.

When I first heard of the 2.0 version I thought calling it the 2.0 it was more of a marketing gimmick as the upgrade is incremental, should it be the 1.5 instead? Then again a lot of companies do this. The brighter screen and improved magnifier do indeed make the camera easier to use, and I found in the grey cloudy UK the brighter screen did make a significant difference.

If you’re keen on getting this camera from MiNT and can’t decided whether to save a bit of money and get the 1.0 instead, I’d say it’s worth spending a bit more on the 2.0. I found that I had a higher rate of successful photos with it. The brighter screen does make it easier to compose and focus shots. If you’ve already got a 1.0, I’d seriously consider the upgrade kit. You make the money back on the cost of the upgrade kit / getting the 2.0 from the amount of shots you’ll save over the camera’s lifetime.

You can get one here

Thanks for the review, Joe. Always happy to see new toys being reviewed.