Why Does my Instax Camera Say S?

If you’ve been using an Instax camera to take instant photos and loaded film into your camera, you may have noticed that a letter “S” shows up in the film counter window of your camera.

Your Instax camera will display an “S” for “Start” in the film counter window on the back of your camera after you take an empty film cartridge out of your camera or until you eject the black sheet of paper by pressing the shutter button after turning on the camera and loading film into your Instax camera.

Keep reading to find out why each of the following popular models of instax says “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera and what to do if your camera becomes stuck on “S”.

Instax Mini 7+

Instax Mini 7+ in Lavender
Instax Mini 7+ in Lavender

Instax Mini 7+

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7+ is one of the three versions of the Instax Mini 7 that was first introduced in 2004. All of the Instax Mini 7 series of cameras (including the Instax Mini 7 and Mini 7s) from Fujifilm use the same Instax mini film and have similar specs except the Instax Mini 7 plus has the exposure settings located on the camera’s lens barrel instead of located on the top of the camera like the Instax Mini 7 and Mini 7s.

The Instax Mini 7+ (or Instax Mini 7 plus), like almost all Instax Mini cameras, has a mechanical film counter located back of the camera that uses a “S” in the window to indicate if either there is any film in the camera or if the camera is ready to eject the protective black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera.

What to do if your Instax Mini 7+ is Stuck on S?

There are 3 possible reasons your Instax Mini 7+ shows an “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Mini 7+ with film you need to eject the black paper (or darkslide) from the film pack. To do this, load the film pack into the camera and turn the camera on by pulling out the lens until it stops. The light on the front of the camera will blink to indicate the flash is charging and once the flash stays lit, press the shutter button to eject the protective black paper (or darkslide). After this the film counter window on the back of the camera will show “10” to indicate the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your camera may be stuck on S is the film pack is old and the protective black paper (or darkslide) won’t eject from the camera properly. This can happen sometimes if the film is more than 12 months past it’s expiration date. Some possible solutions are to remove the film cartridge from the camera, place it back into the camera, and close the film compartment door or replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

You cannot take image with the Instax Mini 7+ (or 7 plus) until the flash on the camera is fully charged. So, if either the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (Fujifilm recommends alkaline batteries), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t indicated a “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera. In that case, you will need to replace the old and worn out batteries with 4 fresh alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on by pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If the previous steps don’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Mini 7+ (or Mini 7 plus). To do this, pull the lens away from the camera to turn the camera on with batteries in the camera. Once the lens is extended, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should now take an image or eject the protective black paper (or darkslide) and show a “10” in the film counter window.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.


Instax Mini 7s

Instax Mini 7s
Instax Mini 7s

The Instax Mini 7s was introduced in June 2008 is still available new. The Instax Mini 7s uses Instax Mini film and has a similar design and similar 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. The instax Mini 7s is the same camera rebranded as the Polaroid PIC 300 at the insistence of Lady Gaga for Polaroid to begin making true instant film again which makes the Polaroid 300 the only Polaroid camera that can also use Instax Mini film.

The Instax Mini 7s, like almost all Instax Mini cameras, has a mechanical film counter located back of the camera that uses a “S” in the window to indicate if either there is any film in the camera or if the camera is ready to eject the protective black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera.

What to do if your Instax 7s is Stuck on S?

There are 3 possible reasons your Instax Mini 7s shows an “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Mini 7s with film you need to eject the black paper (or darkslide) from the film pack. To do this, load the film pack into the camera and turn the camera on by pulling out the lens until it stops. The light on the front of the camera will blink to indicate the flash is charging and once the flash stays lit, press the shutter button to eject the protective black paper (or darkslide). After this the film counter window on the back of the camera will show “10” to indicate the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your Instax Mini 7s camera may be stuck on S is the film pack is old and the protective black paper (or darkslide) won’t eject from the camera properly. This can happen sometimes if the film is more than 12 months past it’s expiration date. Some possible solutions are to remove the film cartridge from the camera, place it back into the camera, and close the film compartment door or replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

You cannot take image with the Instax Mini 7s until the flash on the camera is fully charged. So, if either the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (Fujifilm recommends alkaline batteries), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t indicated a “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera. In that case, you will need to replace the old and worn out batteries with 4 fresh alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on and pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If the previous steps don’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Mini 7s. To do this, pull the lens away from the camera to turn the camera on with batteries in the camera. Once the lens is extended, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should now take an image or eject the protective black paper (or darkslide) and show a “10” in the film counter window.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.


Instax Mini 8

Instax Mini 8
Instax Mini 8

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 was released in November of 2012 is still considered to be a good instant camera due to it’s small size, long battery life, and somewhat manual exposure settings (compared to the Instax Mini 11). It was introduced as an update to the Instax Mini 7s with a slimmer body, easier exposure settings, only uses 2 AA alkaline batteries instead of 4, new high-key mode for portraits and taking images indoors, and an improvised viewfinder with better visibility and clarity. Like the Instax Mini 7s, the Instax Mini 8 also uses Instax Mini film. See my article about how to set up and use an Instax Mini 8 here.

The Instax Mini 8, like almost all Instax Mini cameras, also has a mechanical film counter located back of the camera that uses a “S” in the window to indicate if either there is any film in the camera or if the camera is ready to eject the protective black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera.

What to do if your Instax Mini 8 is Stuck on S?

There are 3 possible reasons your Instax Mini 7s shows an “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Mini 8 with film you need to eject the black paper (or darkslide) from the film pack. To do this, load the film pack into the camera and turn the camera on by pressing the skinny button next to the lens. The light on the back of the camera near the viewfinder will blink to indicate the flash is charging. Once it stops blinking, press the shutter button to eject the protective black paper (or darkslide). After this the film counter window on the back of the camera will show “10” to indicate the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your Instax Mini 8 camera may be stuck on S is the film pack is old and the protective black paper (or darkslide) won’t eject from the camera properly. This can happen sometimes if the film is more than 12 months past it’s expiration date. Some possible solutions are to remove the film cartridge from the camera, place it back into the camera, and close the film compartment door or replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

You cannot take image with the Instax Mini 8 until the flash on the camera is fully charged. So, if either the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (Fujifilm recommends alkaline batteries), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t indicated a “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera. In that case, you will need to replace the old and worn out batteries with 2 fresh AA alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on and pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If the previous steps don’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Mini 8. To do this, make sure there are batteries in the camera and press the narrow button next to the lens on the front of the camera to turn on the camera. Once the lens is extended, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should now take an image or eject the protective black paper (or darkslide) and show a “10” in the film counter window.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.


Instax Mini 9

Instax Mini 9
Instax Mini 9

The Instax Mini 9 was introduced as an update to the Instax Mini 8 by combining features of the Instax Mini 8 and Instax Mini 8+. The only real difference is the addition of more colors than the Instax Mini 8, addition of a selfie mirror to the front of the camera (like the Instax Mini 8+ has), and that a close-up attachment lens is included in the box instead of having to purchase it separately.

The Instax Mini 9, like almost all Instax Mini cameras, has a mechanical film counter located on the back of the camera that uses a “S” in the window to indicate if either there is any film in the camera or if the camera is ready to eject the protective black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera. Once the darkslide has ejected the film counter window will read “10” and count down to “0” to indicate how many sheets of film you have left.

What to do if your Instax Mini 9 is Stuck on S?

There are 3 possible reasons your Instax Mini 9 shows an “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Mini 9 with film you need to eject the black paper (or darkslide) from the film pack. To do this, load the film pack into the camera and turn the camera on by pressing the skinny button next to the lens. The light on the back of the camera near the viewfinder will blink to indicate the flash is charging. Once it stops blinking, press the shutter button to eject the protective black paper (or darkslide). After this the film counter window on the back of the camera will show “10” to indicate the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your Instax Mini 9 camera may be stuck on S is the film pack is old and the protective black paper (or darkslide) won’t eject from the camera properly. This can happen sometimes if the film is more than 12 months past it’s expiration date. Some possible solutions are to remove the film cartridge from the camera, place it back into the camera, and close the film compartment door or replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

You cannot take image with the Instax Mini 9 until the flash on the camera is fully charged. So, if either the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (Fujifilm recommends alkaline batteries), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t indicated a “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera. In that case, you will need to replace the old and worn out batteries with 2 fresh AA alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on and pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If the previous steps don’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Mini 9. To do this, make sure there are batteries in the camera and press the narrow button next to the lens on the front of the camera to turn on the camera. Once the lens is extended, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should now take an image or eject the protective black paper (or darkslide) and show a “10” in the film counter window.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.


Instax Mini 11

Instax Mini 11
Instax Mini 11

The latest Instax camera, the Instax Mini 11, released in March 2020 as an update to the Instax Mini 9 and is one of the easiest instant cameras to use due to it’s fully automatic exposure. The Instax Mini 9 and Mini 11 both use the same Instax Mini film and share the built-in flash that fires with each shot (no way to turn it off), 60mm focal length, and both are powered by 2 AA alkaline batteries. The design of the Instax Mini 11 is slimmer and more overall round than previous versions and includes a built-in selfie mode (no more fiddly close-up lens attachments!), includes shutter button accessories, and images have brighter backgrounds.

The Instax Mini 11, like almost all Instax Mini cameras, has a mechanical film counter located back of the camera that uses a “S” in the window to indicate if either there is any film in the camera or if the camera is ready to eject the protective black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera.

What to do if your Instax Mini 11 is Stuck on S?

There are 3 possible reasons your Instax Mini 11 shows an “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Mini 11 with film you need to eject the black paper (or darkslide) from the film pack. To do this, load the film pack into the camera and turn the camera on by pressing the skinny button next to the lens. The light on the front of the camera will blink to indicate the flash is charging. Once it stays lit, press the shutter button to eject the protective black paper (or darkslide). After this the film counter window on the back of the camera will show “10” to indicate the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your Instax Mini 11 camera may be stuck on S is the film pack is old and the protective black paper (or darkslide) won’t eject from the camera properly. This can happen sometimes if the film is more than 12 months past it’s expiration date. Some possible solutions are to remove the film cartridge from the camera, place it back into the camera, and close the film compartment door or replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack of Instax Mini film.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

You cannot take image with the Instax Mini 11 until the flash on the camera is fully charged. So, if either the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (Fujifilm recommends alkaline batteries), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t indicated a “S” in the film counter window on the back of the camera. In that case, you will need to replace the old and worn out batteries with 2 fresh AA alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on and pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If the previous steps don’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Mini 11. To do this, make sure there are batteries in the camera and press the narrow button next to the lens on the front of the camera to turn on the camera. Once the lens is extended, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should now take an image or eject the protective black paper (or darkslide) and show a “10” in the film counter window.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.


Instax Wide 300

Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera
Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 instant is a large instant camera made by Fujifilm that uses the Instax Wide film that is twice the size of Instax Mini film and larger than Polaroid film.

Unlike Instax Mini models, the Wide 300 instant camera uses a “10” or “-” (for there is no film in the camera) on an LCD window on the back of the camera to indicate either there is no film in the camera or it is ready to eject the black sheet of paper (or darkslide) from the film cartridge once it is loaded into the camera.

What to do if your Instax Wide 300 is Stuck on S?

If your Instax Wide 300 shows an “-” or doesn’t show a “10” on the LCD on the back of the camera with film in your camera, there are 3 possible reasons:

1. You haven’t ejected the dark slide (black paper) from the film cartridge yet.

Before you can take an image after loading the Instax Wide 300 with film you need to remove the black paper from the from the film pack. To do this, press the shutter button once the camera is turned on and the camera should eject the black paper and then it will show 10 in the LCD window on the back of the camera. This indicates the camera is ready to take an image.

2. The film is past the expiration date and your film does not perform as well as intended.

Another reason your camera is stuck on S or showing an “-” is the film is old and won’t eject properly. Possible solutions to this is to take the film cartridge out of the camera and place it back into the camera to see if the camera registers the film or to replace the film cartridge with fresh film pack.

3. The batteries in the camera have low power or aren’t the right kind to charge the flash and eject the black paper from the film cartridge.

It’s worth noting that you cannot take a image with the Instax Wide 300 if the camera’s flash isn’t fully charged. So if the batteries are low, aren’t the right kind (must be alkaline), or run out of battery power while the camera is charging the flash or ejecting a sheet of film for the first time, your instant camera won’t show 10 in the back LCD window (or shows an “-“). In that case, replace the old and worn out batteries with 4 fresh alkaline batteries (Fujifilm recommends Duracell) and try to turn the camera back on by pressing the shutter button to eject the darkslide (black sheet of paper).

If all the above doesn’t work, you may need to reset your Instax Wide 300. First, insert the correct batteries (4 alkaline batteries) into the Instax 300 wide. Once the lens on the camera fully extends, remove the batteries from the camera and wait about 15 seconds before inserting them. The camera should have been reset and should show the “10” on the LCD display on the back of the camera.

4. The film or dark slide got stuck while ejecting out of the camera

If your film gets stuck on the way out of the camera, do not try to pull the film out as it could ruin your film, or worse, break your camera. The best option if you have film get stuck while ejecting from your camera is to try to reset the camera using the steps above or turn the camera off and back on again.

Conclusion

Instax cameras show an “S” (or “-” on the Instax Wide 300) in the film counter window on the back of the camera to indicate the camera has film in it and is ready to eject the dark slide (black sheet of paper that protects the film from exposure). If you find that your Instax camera is stuck on “S” and won’t progress to show the “10” in the window, follow these steps to fix the issue:

  • Make sure to use fresh, name brand alkaline batteries so the camera has enough power to eject the black paper in the film pack (Fujifilm, who makes Instax, recommends using Duracell batteries)
  • Remove and reinserting the film pack in the camera (only be done if the black paper hasn’t been ejected or your first film sheets will be ruined)
  • Reset the camera by removing and reinserting your camera while the lens is extended (which means the camera is on).

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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