Hi-Key Instax Mini 9 Setting: What is it for?

By Emma Johnson •  Updated: 03/28/22 •  6 min read
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The Instax Mini 8 and Mini 9 are the perfect Instax cameras if you have just dived into instant photography. However, the often no-fuss controls and features can leave you wanting better-lit photos, especially indoors or in the dark.

That is precisely what the Hi-Key Instax Mini 9 is designed for.

Read on as we explore the Hi-Key (high key) mode setting on the Instax Mini 9 (and Mini 8), and explain how best to use it for breathtaking Instax photos.

What is Hi-Key on Instax Mini 9 (and Instax Mini 8)?

The Hi-Key Setting on the Instax Mini 9 is the brightest setting for taking an Instax picture indoors and in the dark when the subject is within the flash range (0.6 – 2.7m).

Choose the setting using the brightness adjustment dial for a brighter image when the corresponding lamp to the house icon lights up on the camera. Using the Hi-Key Instax mode in avid lighting can wholly whiten the resulting image.

Pictures taken in the high-key setting tend to come out softer.

What is the Hi-Key Setting on Instax Mini 9 (and Instax Mini 8)
Source: Fujifilm

The Hi-Key (or High Key) function adds more light (by +2/3EV) to pictures in instances when the surroundings are too dark. This setting works best indoors or at night when shooting outside.

The Instax Mini 9 camera never suggests the Hi-Key settings (unlike the other four exposure settings), but it’s the safest to use when the camera suggests Indoor lighting without the risk of overexposing the image.

Alternatively, turn the brightness adjustment dial to select the Hi-Key mode whenever a brighter, softer, and more upbeat Instax picture is required.

What does Hi-Key Mean on Instax Mini 9?

The Hi-Key setting on the brightness adjustment dial on the Instax Mini 9 camera refers to a photography style where extremely bright lighting is used to reduce or eliminate shadows and illuminate the subject in darker surroundings.

On the Mini 9 camera, turning the dial to select the Hi-Key mode results in vibrant mages with a whimsical feel. The Hi-Key mode is best used indoors or in the shade where the light is low.

When comparing pictures, first taken without and then with the Hi-Key mode, the second shot appears to be more vibrant with an almost ethereal look. For this reason, Hi-Key pictures are used in portraits and advertising photography.

The Mini 9 instant camera uses the setting to take images with more intense light.

While the Hi-Key mode will take the brightest picture, it is recommended to select one slot higher than the exposure the camera suggests (choosing indoors when the camera lights up the cloudy icon) to shoot pictures with comparatively vivid lighting.

This will result in adequate brightness without overexposing the image. Using the High-Key mode in well-lit surroundings is not recommended.

When Should I Use the Hi-Key on Instax?

The Hi-Key mode on the Instax Mini 8 and 9 should be used when there is a lack of adequate lighting, like indoors, in the shade, at dawn, dusk, or night – but only when there is a clear subject within the flash range.

Using the Hi-Key setting in broad daylight or brighter ambient light will cause the resulting image to be almost too white. Select the Hi-Key setting by turning the adjustment dial till the market sits on the Hi-Key mode indicator.

When Should I Use the Hi-Key Mode on Instax Mini 8 (and Instax Mini 9)
When Should I Use the Hi-Key Mode on Instax Mini 8 (and Instax Mini 9)

There is no lamp next to the Hi-Key setting since the camera itself never suggests it.

The Instax Mini 9 only indicates (by lighting up the corresponding lamp) one of the four exposure settings, which allow sufficient lighting for various backgrounds.

The sunny icon allows the least light, and the indoor icon allows the most. Using the Hi-Key setting when the “Sunny” lamp lights up will brighten the image too much.

While the Hi-Key mode works well at night, the subject should always be within the flash range.

Otherwise, the fixed shutter speed (1/60 sec.) and the maximum aperture of f/12.7 of the Mini 8 and 9 will not allow a clear image. So, do not take pictures that feature landscapes at night.


What is the Hi-Key setting on Polaroid?

The Hi-key setting uses exceedingly bright light, which results in upbeat and vivid images. This setting is best utilized in low-light surroundings to reduce the risk of overexposing the final picture.

The Hi-Key mode can turn the image completely white when used in bright lighting. The best instances to use the Hi-Key setting are at dawn or dusk, indoors with inadequate lighting, when the subject is in the shade, or at night.

What is the Hi-Key setting for Instax?

The Hi-Key setting on Instax instant cameras is a light setting that increases picture exposure by +2/3 EV. When the ambient surroundings are not very well lit – at night, indoors, or in the shade), you can switch to the Hi-Key mode to take clear, bright images.

However, when taking pictures outside in the dark, make sure the subject is within the flash range. Using the Hi-Key Instax mode in bright conditions can result in overexposure. DO NOT use this setting on sunny days, bright cloudy days, and in other well-lit surroundings.

What is the Hi-Key setting on Instax Mini 8?

The Hi-Key mode on the Instax Mini 8 is the brightest light setting, which allows you to take vivid images indoors and in other low-light conditions.

The Hi-Key setting is selected through the brightness adjustment dial, where four different exposure settings (that light up according to surrounding lighting) are also present.

Taking images beyond the flash range that does not feature a clear subject (like landscapes, can turn out very dark even with the Hi-Key setting. The best time to use the Hi-Key setting is when the camera (Mini 8 and Mini 9) suggests the indoor exposure setting.

What does Hi-Key on Polaroid mean?

What does Hi-Key on Polaroid mean

The Hi-Key setting on Polaroid is used to lighten the image if there is inadequate lighting for a clearer photo. Unlike Instax cameras, Polaroid cameras do not have a “Hi-Key” mode marker.

Instead, using the Hi-Key on a Polaroid camera requires moving the knob on the electric eye present on the camera for automatic exposure.

Pushing the knob to “lighten” will result in a lighter, Hi-Key image, and the movement in the opposite direction will darken the resulting photo. Depending on your Polaroid camera model, some also use a switch to shift between light and dark settings.

The Bottom Line

The Hi-Key Mode on the Mini 8 and 9 is the brightest light setting, ideal for low-light shooting conditions. Using the Hi-Key Instax setting in bright conditions can make the final picture too light.

The Hi-Key settings on the Mini 8 and 9 have to be selected manually through the brightness adjustment dial and are safest to use when the “Indoors” light icon is lit.

Emma Johnson

I have loved photography from a young age and more recently started experimenting with Instant Cameras from Polaroid and Instax. I also love dancing and hanging out with my friends :)

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