How Do I Know When My Instax Camera Is Empty?

If you’ve been using your Instax camera for a while, you might wonder how to tell when the camera is running low or is out of film.

To check and see how much film you have left in your Instax camera, look to see if the frame counter window on the back of the camera is showing a “0”. If a “0” is present in the frame counter window, the camera is out of film and the empty film pack should be replaced with a new one.

Now you know when your Instax camera is empty of film, let’s dive into specifics since all Instax cameras may show how much film is in the camera slightly different.

Instax Mini 7S

Instax Mini 7s Instant Camera
Instax Mini 7s Instant Camera

Although the Instax Mini 7s came out in June 2008, it is still a favorite among Instax lovers because of it’s manual exposure controls on the top of the camera and because it uses the inexpensive Instax Mini film. The Instax Mini 7s has a similar design and specs to the Instax Mini 7 and Instax Mini 7+. Like the Instax Mini 7, the Instax Mini 7s has exposure settings on the top of the camera instead of on the lens barrel like the instax Mini 7+, Instax Mini 8, and Instax Mini 9. An interesting fact about the instax Mini 7s is it was rebranded as the Polaroid 300 camera in the 2000’s because of Lady Gaga and thus became the only Polaroid camera that can use Instax Mini film.

See this article for more information about the Instax Mini 7s.

How to Know When My Instax Mini 7S is Empty?

The Instax Mini 7s has a mechanical film counter located on the back of the camera to indicate if there is any film in the camera. If the film counter window shows a 0, this means there are no more sheets of ilm left in the film cartridge and it needs to be replaced with a fresh pack.

The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 7s
The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 7s

When you load a new cartridge into the camera, the frame counter on the back of the camera will show a S. This means you will need to press the shutter button to eject a black piece of paper (the film cover) that protects the film from light when you load it into the camera. After the black paper has ejected, the frame counter will start at 10 and count down to 0 (or zero). Once the frame counter reaches 0, then it is time to replace the film pack with a a fresh film pack of film.

How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 7s
How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 7s

Read this article for more information about why your Instax says S on the back of the camera.

How to Tell if There Is film in my Instax Mini 7s?

To know if there is still film in your camera, check the small window on the back of the camera next to the viewfinder. If the window has a yellow stripe in it, then the camera is loaded with a film cartridge. If there is no yellow stripe then camera is empty and needs a fresh film pack of Instax Mini sheet film to take images.

The frame counter and film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 7s
The frame counter and film indicator window (blue arrow) on the back of the Instax Mini 7s. There is a film cartridge in this camera but no more sheets of film.

Remember not to open the film door on the back of your Instax Mini 7s camera if the yellow strip is there in the film indicator window and the film counter says anything other than 0 or S. This will expose the film in the camera unnecessarily to light and ruin the film in your camera.


Instax Mini 8

Instax Mini 8
Instax Mini 8 in Strawberry

The Instax Mini 8 came out in November of 2012 and was an big update to the Instax Mini 7s. It featured a slimmer body than the Mini 7s, automatic exposure that flashes the correct aperture and brought the controls from the top of the camera to near the lens, a new high-key flash mode for portraits, and an improved viewfinder for visibility and clarity. The Instax Mini 8+, was an upgrade to the Instax Mini 8, is the same camera but added a selfie mirror to the front of the camera and close up lens attachment that allows the cameras to focus on your subjects much closer to the camera.

Read this article for more about the Instax Mini 8 here. You can also find the manual for the Instax Mini 8 camera here.

How to Know When My Instax Mini 8 is Empty?

The Instax Mini 8, like the Instax Mini 7s, Mini 9, and Mini 11, has a film counter located on the back of the camera (near the bottom) to indicate how much film is in the camera. If the film counter window shows a 0, this means there are no more sheets of film in the film cartridge in the camera and it needs to be replaced with a fresh pack of Instax Mini film.

The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 8
The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 8

After you remove the spent film cartridge and load a fresh film cartridge into the camera, the frame counter on the back of the camera will show a S. This means you will need to press the shutter button to eject a the film cover (black paper) that protects the film from light when you load it into the camera. After the film cover paper has ejected, the frame counter will change to 10 and count down to 0 (or zero) to show it is time to replace the film pack with a a fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

Eject the black film cover paper to change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 8.
Eject the black film cover paper to change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 8.

Read this article for more information about why your Instax says S on the back of the camera.

How to Tell if There Is film in my Instax Mini 8?

To know if there is still film in your camera, like with the Instax Mini 8, check the small circular window on the back of the camera next to the viewfinder. If the window shows a yellow stripe, then there is a film cartridge in the camera. If there is no yellow stripe then camera does not have a film cartridge installed and will need a fresh film pack of Instax Mini sheet film to make images.

The frame counter and film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 8.
The frame counter and film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 8. There is a film cartridge in this camera but no more sheets of film since the frame counter says 0.

Remember not to open the film door on the back of your Instax Mini 8 camera if the yellow strip is there in the film indicator window and the film counter says anything other than 0 or S. This will expose the film in the camera unnecessarily to light and ruin the film in your camera.

For tips on setting up Instax Mini 8 for the first time see this article or see this article for how to get good images out of the Instax Mini 8.


Instax Mini 9

Instax Mini 9
Instax Mini 9

The popular Instax Mini 9 was created as an update to the Instax Mini 8 and came out in April of 2017 by adding a selfie mirror to the front of the camera, more color choices (up to 14 different colors with some being harder to find than others), and included a close-up focusing mirror in the box. Like the Instax Mini 7+, on the Instax Mini 9 you set the exposure using the brightness dial yourself on the lens based on what the camera recommends using an indicator light or make your own choice. The ability to get the the camera’s exposure recommendation but still be able to choose your own exposure is what makes this camera so popular even today (even over the Mini 11 which lacks this feature).

Read this guide for how to solve the Instax Mini 9 top problems. You can also find the Instax Mini 9 manual at this link.

How to Know When My Instax Mini 9 is Empty?

The Instax Mini 9, like the Instax Mini 8, Mini 7s, and Mini 11, has a film counter located on the back of the camera (near the bottom) to indicate how much film is in the camera. If the film counter window shows a 0, this means there are no more sheets of film in the film cartridge in the camera and it needs to be replaced with a fresh pack of Instax Mini film.

The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 9
The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 9. On this camera there is an S which means the camera is ready for a film pack to be inserted.

After you remove the spent film cartridge and load a fresh film cartridge into the camera, the frame counter on the back of the camera will show a S. This means you will need to press the shutter button to eject a the film cover (black paper) that protects the film from light when you load it into the camera. After the film cover paper has ejected, the frame counter will change to 10 and count down to 0 (or zero) to show it is time to replace the film pack with a a fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 9
How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 9

Read this article for more information about why your Instax says S on the back of the camera.

How to Tell if There Is film in my Instax Mini 9?

To know if there is still film in your Instax camera, like with the Instax Mini 9, check the small circular window on the back of the camera next to the viewfinder. If the window shows a yellow stripe, then there is a film cartridge in the camera. If there is no yellow stripe then camera does not have a film cartridge installed and will need a fresh film pack of Instax Mini sheet film to make images.

The frame counter and film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 9. There is a no film cartridge in this camera since there is no yellow strip in the window.
The frame counter and film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 9. There is a no film cartridge in this camera since there is no yellow strip in the window.

Remember not to open the film door on the back of your Instax Mini 9 camera if the yellow strip is there in the film indicator window and the film counter says anything other than 0 or S. This will expose the film in the camera unnecessarily to light and ruin the film in your camera.

For tips on setting up Instax Mini 9 for the first time see this article or see this article for how to get good images out of the Instax Mini 9 .


Instax Mini 11

instax Mini 11
Instax Mini 11

The Instax Mini 11 was created as an update to the Instax Mini 9 and came out in March of 2020 by introducing 5 new colors, sleeker and lighter body, a larger range of shutter speeds, a larger flash range, a built-in selfie mode that let you focus closer to the camera, and the camera changed to an automatic exposure system. Because the Instax Mini 11 moved to a fully automatic exposure system (meaning the user didn’t need to choose the exposure setting), this camera is great for kids but does lack the manual exposure settings of the Instax cameras before it.

Read this guide on fixing the most common problems with the Instax Mini 11. You can also read the Instax Mini 11 manual for more information about the camera.

How to Know When My Instax Mini 11 is Empty?

The Instax Mini 11, like the Instax Mini 7s, Mini 8, and Mini 9, has a film counter located on the back of the camera (near the bottom) to indicate how much film is in the camera. If the film counter window shows a 0, this means there are no more sheets of film in the film cartridge in the camera and it needs to be replaced with a fresh pack of Instax Mini film.

The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 11
The frame counter window on the back of an Instax Mini 11

After you remove the spent film cartridge and load a fresh film cartridge into the camera, the frame counter on the back of the camera will show a S. This means you will need to press the shutter button to eject a the film cover (black paper) that protects the film from light when you load it into the camera. After the film cover paper has ejected, the frame counter will change to 10 and count down to 0 (or zero) to show it is time to replace the film pack with a a fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 11
How to Change the S to 10 in an Instax Mini 11

Read this article for more information about why your Instax says S on the back of the camera.

How to Tell if There Is film in my Instax Mini 11?

To know if there is still film in your camera, like with the Instax Mini 11, check the small circular window on the back of the camera next to the viewfinder. If the window shows a yellow stripe, then there is a film cartridge in the camera. If there is no yellow stripe then camera does not have a film cartridge installed and will need a fresh film pack of Instax Mini sheet film to make images.

The film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 11.
The film indicator window on the back of the Instax Mini 11. In this image, there is a no film cartridge in this camera.

Remember not to open the film door on the back of your Instax Mini 11 camera if the yellow strip is there in the film indicator window and the film counter says anything other than 0 or S. This will expose the film in the camera unnecessarily to light and ruin the film in your camera.

For tips on setting up Instax Mini 11 for the first time see this article or see this article for how to get good images out of the Instax Mini 11.


How Can I Test my Instax Camera Without Film?

While there is no way to fully test your Instax camera without film loaded into the camera, you are able to check and see if the camera turns on and if the flash fully charges or see if the shutter fires by opening up the back of the camera and looking through the lens while pressing the shutter. However, to see if the camera will create an image on film, you’ll need to insert a fresh film cartridge into the camera.

In general when the lights on the front (Instax Mini 11), top (Instax Mini 7 & 7s), or next to the the viewfinder on the back of the camera (Instax Mini 8 & 9) stops blinking and stays lit the flash has finished charging, and the camera is ready to shoot. If the lights continue to blink or stay red when the camera is turned on then the batteries may need to be replaced.

Final Thoughts

Understanding when your Instax camera is out of film or empty can help to avoid two issues with using Instax cameras – running out of film or ruining your film by opening the film door on back of the camera.

For instax Mini cameras, to check and see how much film you have left in your Instax camera, find the frame counter window on the back of the camera and see if it is showing a “0”. If a “0” is present in the frame counter window, the camera is out of film and the empty film pack should be replaced with a new one. Also remember to always check for the yellow stripe in the film indicator window (located next to the viewfinder on the back of your camera) before opening the film door on the back of the camera and ruining your by unnecessarily exposing your film to light.

If you are struggling with problems with your Instax film not developing correctly, read this article about the best way to develop Instax film.

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Lee

My name is Lee and I love photography and learning. I received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 2010 and have worked as a university professor for the last 10 years in addition to being a working photographer. I started this website to learn more about digital and film-based photography and to provide a resource for all of my students.

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