Due to its adorable design and simplicity, the Instax Mini 9 is a popular instant film camera for beginners and aesthetic seekers alike. However, the lack of buttons and dials on your camera also has a drawback – there doesn’t appear to be a way to turn off the flash.
The Instax Mini 9 features an automatic flash that cannot be manually turned off. However, photographers can employ a few techniques to control the flash’s impact:
- Cover the flash: Place a small piece of translucent tape or a removable diffuser over it to soften its intensity.
- Experiment with the exposure dial: Adjust the exposure dial on the front of the camera to a higher setting, which reduces the flash’s effect on the final image.
- Add strategic light sources: Incorporate additional light sources, such as lamps or natural light, to help balance the flash and create desired lighting effects.
- Scan photos for editing: If the flash interferes with the desired outcome, capture your photos with the Instax Mini 9 and then scan them into a computer for post-processing adjustments.
These solutions are best used when the photographer (a.k.a you!) understands the automatic flash works, the five modes available, hi-key Instax Mini 9 setting and photography best practices. For all of this and more, keep reading.
Disabling The Flash on an Instax Mini 9 Camera
The flash on the Instax Mini 9 is automatic. This means that a sensor in the camera decides when to use the flash, not the person taking the picture. As a result, there is no setting to turn off the flash manually.
While this typically isn’t a problem, the light sensor doesn’t always do its’ job very well; sometimes, you need to turn off the flash.
In this case, there are several workarounds you can use to either change the environment, trick the sensor, or render the flash ineffective, such as:
- Covering the flash with a dark material
- Increasing exposure by changing the mode of the camera
- Directing a light source at the camera’s sensor
- Adding more light to the subject matter you are photographing
- Digitally editing the photos later to remove the flash effects
To effectively use these solutions, let’s explore how the Instax Mini 9 senses low light and thus activates the flash.
How Does the Instax Mini 9 Sense Low-Light?
The Instax Mini 9 senses low light conditions using a small window in the front middle of the camera (labeled as number two in the first image here).
A small photoreceptor in this window measures incoming light to estimate whether sufficient light will enter the aperture to avoid underexposure during photography.
If it is determined that there is a significant risk of underexposure in the current conditions, then the flash will activate automatically.
Can I Cover The Flash On Instax Mini 9?
The most straightforward way to stop the Mini 9’s automatic flash from affecting photos is to cover the flash. This can be done with a variety of materials, including:
- Electrical tape
- Post-it notes
- After-market accessories
- You can even get a blueprint for a 3-D printed flash cover.
How To Change the Exposure on an Instax Mini 9
Use the exposure settings if you don’t have a flash cover handy.
The exposure of a given picture is determined by how wide the aperture is on the camera. An exposure dial sets this. To make the Mini 9 more accessible, Fujifilm has named each exposure setting after a location where it might be used. Here are the settings ordered from largest to smallest aperture opening:
- Hi-Key – a setting for the brightest photos
- Indoors – for dark conditions
- Cloudy – for dim light
- Slightly Cloudy – for normal light
- Sunny – for bright conditions
Your camera will suggest an exposure setting based on detected conditions (indicated by a light). The camera never recommends the Hi-Key mode.
When attempting to disable the flash, you can increase the exposure (from cloudy to indoors, for example), as this may let in enough light to avoid activating the automatic flash. However, you’ll need a different solution if you still get a flash on the Hi-Key setting.
Why Changing the Exposure Works
Changing the exposure can cause the flash to stop going off because your camera uses a flash to inject light into the environment to prevent underexposed pictures artificially. Adjusting the exposure to a different setting can widen the opening in the camera, exposing the film to more natural light and reducing the need to add artificial lighting.
Adding Strategic Lighting
If you cannot get the flash to stop going off by changing the exposure, then you can use additional lighting to change what the camera’s sensor is registering. There are two ways to do this, depending on your desired effect:
- Adding light to the scene you wish to photograph
- Pointing light at the camera’s sensor to trick it
Both can be done with things you likely have on hand, such as sunlight, a lamp, or your cell phone.
Brightening The Scene
If you’d like the photo’s subject to be brighter, as well as removing the flash, then adding lights to illuminate it will likely give you the desired outcome. Tips to light up a photo include:
- Position the subject towards the sun, with the camera in between the two.
- Place a lamp or other artificial light behind the camera, shining toward the subject of the picture.
- Use reflective objects (such as photography reflectors and mirrors) to bounce light toward the subject.
Pointing Light at the Camera’s Sensor
Alternatively, if you are happy with the light currently hitting the scene you want to photograph, you can disable the flash by pointing a light at the camera’s sensor. This is best done with a flashlight (or the flashlight on your cell phone).
Editing In Post
When all else fails, and your photo is too bright or has strange lights from the flash, you can edit the photo to fix it. While film photos cannot be directly edited once developed, the photos can be scanned if and edited digitally.
Popular photo editors include:
However, remember that scanning and digitally editing your photos will remove the authentic film look of the Polaroid, as they will be printed out on regular photo paper after editing.
Instax Mini 9 Flash Verdict
Many proud new owners of the Instax Mini 9 wonder where the button to turn off the flash is on their camera. Simply put, there isn’t one. While this is typically fine, as the Mini 9 automatic flash is excellent, it can make those situations where you don’t want the flash going off frustrating.
To disable the flash, consumers can try covering it with a solid, dark material such as electrical tape, widening the aperture size using the exposure dial, strategically lighting their photos, or even digitally editing them later.
One final tip, if you are experiencing other issues with your Mini 9 and can’t figure out how to resolve them a reset will often do the trick. Here’s my guide on How To Reset An Instax Mini 9.
Can film photos be edited after they are developed?
The developed film from the Instax Mini can only be edited or changed if scanned into the computer and edited digitally. Once this is done, it can be printed back out again (but it will have lost the trademark film look).
How can you tell when the flash is active on your Instax Mini 9?
Unfortunately, there is no easy indicator of when the flash will activate on the Instax Mini 9. However, you are likely to have the flash go off if:
1. You have the camera set to a smaller aperture than the camera recommends
2. When the recommended mode is set for Indoors.
What modes on my Instax Mini 9 have flash?
Any Instax Mini 9 mode can potentially use the flash, depending on whether the camera senses that there is not enough light for the selected exposure setting.
When should you disable the flash on the Instax Mini 9?
There are many instances when you might want to forgo the flash. Some examples include a museum, exhibit, or zoo, as these places do not typically allow flash photography.
Another example, as illustrated in the photo to the right, is when shooting in bright sunlight. However unfortunately you cannot control whether the flash fires or not with the Mini 9 camera.