Leica’s new Sofort 2 hybrid instant camera is cheapest Leica available today
Leica is best known for its ultra high-quality, often hand-assembled cameras and lenses that, despite their eye-watering prices, continue to spark excitement and inspire a passionate following among photographers after seven decades. However, the company is not immune to the appeal of the flourishing instant camera market, currently dominated by Fujifilm and Polaroid. Back in 2016, it had tested the waters with the Sofort. Now, seven years later, it has finally launched its successor, the Sofort 2 hybrid instant camera.
As a hybrid model, the Sofort 2 is essentially a digital camera with a built-in printer that accepts Fuji’s Instax Mini film. It sports a 5 MP, 1/5 inch CMOS sensor sitting behind a 28 mm equivalent f/2 Summar lens with 10 cm macro distance, and a 3 inch LCD screen on the back. Apart from printing from its 45-image internal memory or a microSD card, one can use the Leica FOTOS app to print images from one's smartphone or other camera.
Like most instant cameras, the Sofort 2 has a number of in-built filters (or Flimstyles) and effects (or Lensstyles), the latter including fisheye, macro, and double exposure. Available in red, black and white, the camera adopts Leica’s minimalist approach to design and user-interface, with subtle but unmistakable cues from its rangefinder models. One not-so-subtle nod to its heritage is the ‘film-advance’ thumb lever that can be pulled to take a print. Also available are a host of accessories including a variety of picture frames, straps and cases/bags.
While being able to carry a Leica camera without breaking the bank will certainly appeal to the brand- and style-conscious, the Sofort 2 faces direct competition from Fuji’s Instax Mini Evo, with its uncannily similar feature set and arguably even more stylish retro looks. And clearly, being Leica’s cheapest camera doesn't mean; at US$389, the Sofort 2 is still quite expensive for its class, specially against the US$199 Mini Evo. However, it's not the most expensive instant camera out there. That distinction belongs to Polaroid's premium I-2 analogue camera costing US$699 on Amazon.
The Leica Sofort will be available in Leica stores and online starting November 9, for US$389 or €379. Until then, you can buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo, or its analog but equally retro sibling, the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic on Amazon