Leica Sofort 2 review: the classiest hybrid instant camera of them all

An affordable Leica for the instant generation

The Leica Sofort 2 being held in front of a cool winter river
(Image: © Lauren Scott)

TechRadar Verdict

After testing and using many instant cameras over the years, the Leica Sofort 2 is the one I've enjoyed the most. It succumbs to all the same issues as other instants, such as limited exposure control and expensive film, but its design and interface feel more sophisticated. The hybrid Sofort 2 can print your existing digital photos on Instax Mini film, and it does so in style. The price tag is higher than any Fujifilm-branded Instax camera, and it's hard to wonder if you're paying a premium for the Leica badge. But if you want a hybrid instant camera that feels more grown-up, the Sofort 2 is sure to appeal.


  • +

    Fun and easy to use

  • +

    Looks sophisticated

  • +

    Internal storage and microSD card


  • -

    Limited exposure controls

  • -

    Digital image quality is disappointing

  • -

    More expensive than Fujifilm Instax

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Leica Sofort 2: Two-minute review

Leica’s first foray into the instant camera market was in 2016 with the original Leica Sofort, Sofort meaning “immediately” in German. The camera borrowed its functionality from the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 (a camera I still enjoy using) but had Leica’s premium price tag and that iconic red dot. The Sofort 2 arrives seven years later - a long time in the photo industry - and plenty has changed between the first and second generations.

You see, the Sofort 2 is now a hybrid; a digital camera and printer all-in-one that still pushes out Instax Mini-sized film. This time, another license from Fujifilm sees the camera taking its design cues from the Instax Mini Evo, with filters and lens effects (more on these later), a new button layout, and a satisfying lever that you pull back to activate printing. I like that you get a shutter on the front and top of the body to make it easy to fire while taking a selfie. There’s a mirror to check out your framing, too.

There's no viewfinder, so the only way to compose shots is with the screen on the back, a 3-inch TFT LCD that isn't touch-responsive and can be hard to see in bright light. Navigating the menu is straightforward though, and holding the Sofort 2 is comfortable - even if the black colorway is a fingerprint magnet. In the camera menu, you can switch between natural and rich printing, and I prefer rich for its strong, vibrant tones. Pressing the up button in playback mode brings up more settings like the flash and self-timer.

The Sofort 2 has the Leica name, but that doesn’t mean you can expect the same image quality as its rangefinders. I was disappointed by the specs here, as you get a 4.9MP camera with a 1/5-inch CMOS sensor, and images are in JPG format only. The aperture range is f/2-f/16 and the ISO is 100-1600, but you can’t change either of these settings yourself. Exposure is fully automatic, unlike the Polaroid I-2, although you can tweak the white balance and exposure compensation, which is handy when the camera overexposes in high-contrast lighting.

The flat pancake lens is equivalent to a 28mm full-frame, which is wide enough for you to get good group shots and expansive landscapes. The camera’s autofocus is limited, but the face recognition mode isn’t terrible. It took me about a week to discover the macro mode for getting subjects as close as 10cm in focus, and this was a game-changer for nature images.

For point-and-shoot users wanting to shake things up, the Sofort 2 has ten lens effects and ten film styles, effectively giving you over one hundred combinations in the camera. Instax film being the price it is, I didn’t try them all, but I did play around with the iconic Leica Monochrom, vintage, and a bizarre canvas style, plus the vignette and mirror lens effects. Some are more gimmicky than others, but I can see them being fun for amateurs used to Instagram filters.

Being a hybrid, you can print from the camera’s internal memory (around 45 images), a microSD card (a 1GB card will let you take a whopping 850 images), or over Bluetooth from the Leica FOTOS app. None of these were options in the original Sofort, and another welcome new feature is a USB-C connection for transferring images and charging the battery.

Unintentionally, I used the Sofort 2 more as a printer than a camera (it takes about 15 seconds to print an image whatever the source). Maybe that approach is cheating, but there’s no escaping the fact that the image quality - sharpness, color richness, and dynamic range - from the Sofort 2 is behind most modern smartphones. When I had the iPhone 15 Pro in my pocket, there was always a real temptation to use that instead and avoid wasting expensive film. The Sofort 2 is a brilliant portable printer, and the prints it makes are vibrant and authentic-looking, with all the vibes that make Instax so popular.  

For me, the Leica FOTOS app was also a pleasure to use, and surely one of the smoothest in the business. While you’re not spending over $300/£300 on an instant camera for its app, it’s fair to say that Leica has streamlined the experience, even if you don’t get any editing or effects like stickers.

For me, the best instant cameras are the hybrid ones, simply because they unlock more possibilities and mean you’re not limited to (let’s face it) basic optics and (in this hybrid) small sensors. And they save you dosh on a separate printer.

The Sofort 2 is for style-conscious photographers who want something more serious than the average instant camera. That’s me on a good day. Because it still functions similarly to an Instax camera, anyone can pick it up and use it without a rigorous learning process. But the branding is sleek and grown up, and to be honest, I loved whipping out the Leica dot whenever I got the chance.

Reviewers don't talk enough about how cameras make us feel when we’re using them. During the test period for the Sofort 2, we became practically inseparable partners, and not just because it was small enough to fit in my coat pocket. It made me feel creative, inspired, and cool - and that’s more than I can say of my flagship mirrorless camera, or indeed, my dust-gathering Instax cameras since it came along.

Leica Sofort 2: Price and release date

  • Available in the US for $389
  • Available in the UK and Australia for £350 / AU$649

The Leica Sofort 2 was released on November 9, 2023, although some retailers are still asking you to join a pre-order waiting list. The official Leica store has had the best availability since the camera's launch. There's a choice of three colorways; white, red, and black – to reflect the iconic Leica branding.

In the box, you get a carrying strap, lens cap, USB cable for charging or transferring photos, and a quick start guide. Leica also sells a wide range of Sofort-friendly accessories like bags and a metal tin to keep your prints stored safely.

The Sofort 2 takes Instax Mini Film, and the cost of this varies depending on what design you choose. Standard twin-packs with 20 exposures of Instax Mini film start at $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$34.95, while 20 slides of Leica-branded film will set you back around £19 / $30.

The Leica Sofort 2 being held by a woman in a field

The Sofort 2 is sleeky and shiny, although the black colorway attracts fingerprints (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

Leica Sofort 2: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

You want an instant camera that prints, too
You can print your existing photos onto Instax Mini Film – those stored on your smartphone – which means you're not limited to what the camera can capably shoot. This takes away the need for a separate Instax printer.

You want an Instax that looks grown-up
Many instant cameras are designed with a retro aesthetic, which can mean bubblegum colors or faux-leather textures. By contrast, the Sofort 2 has a slick, modern design that looks particularly adult in the black colorway.  

Don't buy it if...

You're on a budget
The Sofort 2 may be affordable for a Leica, but it's around double the price of the Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo - a hybrid instant camera that shares many of the same functionalities, including shooting and printing on Mini film.

You want the best image quality
The Leica Sofort 2 has basic autofocus and nice, bright colors when printed in rich mode, but the 4.9 MP sensor lags behind the quality you'd get from pretty much any smartphone made in the last five years.

Leica Sofort 2: also consider

If you're interested in instant cameras but not sure about the Leica Sofort 2, here are some alternatives to consider...


Polaroid I-2
This advanced instant camera suits photographers who want analog prints and manual exposure control. It's chunkier and pricier than the Sofort 2, but you get the I-2's best-in-class autofocus (for an instant camera) and the iconic square Polaroid film.

Read our Polaroid I-2 review.


Fujifilm Instax Link
If you think you'll end up printing more photos from your phone and just want the cute Instax format, an Instax printer will give you just that. These portable printers come in Wide and Square formats, as well as the Mini format that matches the Sofort 2's output.

Read our Fujifilm Instax Link Wide review.

Leica Sofort 2: How I tested

  • Friends tried out the camera at an event
  • Printing in-camera and via the Leica Fotos app

I had the Leica Sofort 2 for a two-week testing period and during that time I carried it pretty much everywhere in my bag; on family walks, a trip to a Christmas market, plus out for coffee and brunch (because where else is better to take hipster images). 

Over this time, I shot plenty of photos using the built-in camera and printed them straight away. I played with the built-in image effects and face recognition setting. At home, I also linked the Sofort 2 up to the Leica Fotos app on my iPhone and printed a selection of existing photos to see how the camera handled different lighting types and extra detail. I even printed out some photos taken with the Leica M11-P that I'd been reviewing for another outlet.

The Sofort 2 became my compact instant camera, street shooter, and party companion, as well as an Instax printer. I used a range of Instax Mini film packs, including the Leica-branded Instant Color Film and Instax Mini Contact Sheet.

  • First reviewed December 2023
Lauren Scott

Lauren Scott is an experienced journalist and freelance photographer based in Bath, UK. She's been in the industry for over ten years; as the former Managing Editor of our sister site Digital Camera World, Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, and Technique Editor for both PhotoPlus and Digital Camera magazines. Lauren is an aspiring polymath, and as well as raving about cameras past and present for TechRadar, she also has bylines at Space.com, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, and British Airways' in-flight magazine, High Life (among others). When she's not working, you'll find her testing yet another new curry recipe, or teaching her happy Flat-coated Retriever how to retrieve.