Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Review: An Adorable Photo Printer

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photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

One of the best features of the original N64 Pokémon Snap The game took your memory card into a blockbuster video and printed out a sticker sheet of your favorite shots. Fujifilm has rekindled this functionality for the new switch version of Pokémon Snap with a renamed smartphone printer that inspired me to improve my Pokémon photography skills, if only because of the high cost of instant film.

Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Link is not a new product. It debuted for the first time last year and quickly became popular with instant photographers. Instead of using color thermal printer paper like zinc, which has limited image quality and color saturation, the printer used Fujifilm’s Instax Mini instant film material, which has been available for the company’s instant cameras for several decades. For the publication of New Pokémon SnapFujifilm has also created a new version of its Instax Mini Link app, customized for the Switch, which slightly simplifies the process of printing images directly from the console, as well as an optional version of the printer with a silicone Pikachu cover. Does it add any additional functionality to the Instax Mini Link? No, none at all. Is it adorable? Yes, definitely.

Ridiculously easy printer setup

If there is one device that can completely confuse parents and older family members, it is a printer. The best thing about the Instax Mini Link, however, is that it’s incredibly easy to set up and get started with, at least on the hardware side. There is a micro-USB charging port under a small flap (Boo, please all switch to USB-C). When the printer’s power button is solid green, it’s time to load the footage.

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Setting up the printer is as simple as charging it, installing a film cartridge, and then closing the lid.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

A slide switch opens the back door of the Instax Mini Link, in which the Instax Mini film cartridge is inserted. As long as a yellow mark on the cartridge matches a yellow mark on the printer, the cartridge has been inserted correctly and you can close the printer. It is churned for a few seconds and then a disposable protective back is spat out to prevent the footage from being accidentally exposed.

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There is only one button on the printer (which doubles as a light status and charge indicator). Most of the functions are managed by a mobile app.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

After that, just press the Instax branded power button to bring the printer to life. With the silicone sleeve installed, it is now accessible through Pikachu’s chest. The button can also be used as part of a shortcut to quickly reprint the last image. However, for ease of use, this can also be easily achieved through the Instax Mini Link for Nintendo Switch app.

Printing pictures that are not quite as optimized

When things get a little more complicated, at least in terms of the steps you need to follow, you need to transfer your Pokémon pictures from the Switch to the Fujifilm app, but it doesn’t take long to figure it out.

If you’ve never transferred pictures from your Switch’s photo gallery to a mobile device before, Nintendo has tweaked the process quite well, but it’s nowhere near as easy as, for example, AirDropping pictures between iPhones. On the switch, you choose which photo you want to send to a mobile device and the console will then generate a series of QR codes. Simply point your phone or tablet’s camera at the codes, which will create a direct WiFi connection so the image can be downloaded to your device’s camera roll. It’s a little clunky, but it works and is mostly painless.

The Instax Mini Link for Nintendo Switch app provides a shortcut to scan the console’s QR codes directly. After importing, you can print the results unchanged or make minor corrections such as cropping, refreshing, brightness, contrast and saturation adjustments, adding filters (a very small assortment) or adding New Pokémon Snap-themed frames and overlays. They make your pictures look like advertisements for the video game most of the time, but since you can still import any image they want into the app, kids can get a kick out of seeing Pikachu graphics on their selfies.

The Fujifilm app also allows you to create collages by inserting multiple images in custom layouts. However, since the actual Instax Mini prints are only 2 x 3.4 inches, I’m not sure why anyone would want to try cramming more than one picture on each print shot.

Not the same image quality you would get from an inkjet

The print quality you can get with a consumer inkjet printer combined with high quality glossy photo paper is now stunning, but that’s not what you get with Fujifilm’s Instax Mini footage. It still has the lo-fi aesthetic that makes Polaroid cameras popular today, with increased contrast, less vivid colors, and a smooth softening of details. However, when compared to other mini printers that use the zinc thermal printer, the results of the Instax Mini Link are significantly superior.

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The images that you capture in New Pokémon Snap, with their bright colors and high saturation, actually produce some of the best results the printer and instant footage can produce.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

The photos you take New Pokémon Snap It actually turns out quite well when printed on the Instax Mini film thanks to the dazzling saturation and color in the game. The printed results also do a good job of hiding the jagged aliased edges of the relatively low resolution images that the switch is capturing and sharing. If there is One application that the Instax Mini Link excels at is printing out Pokémon pictures.

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In real photos, the boundaries of instant film become clearer, with softer details, high contrast, and desaturated colors.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

The disadvantages of instant film become more apparent when you print regular photos, even those taken on modern smartphones with a lot of image resolution. You will lose a lot of detail, color saturation, and sharpness when printing pictures of non-Pokémon characters, but this is exactly what many photographers look for when they resort to instant film. You also get the magical experience of the printer appearing to spit out a blank photo which then slowly evolves into a full color image, and I can attest that it will drive a child crazy – especially if all they know is digital photography is.

An expensive hobby

One of the many, many reasons digital cameras wiped out the film camera market was because of the cost of ownership. As long as you had a computer or mobile device to enjoy and share digital pictures, you could take tens of thousands of pictures without paying to develop a single one. However, this is the main disadvantage of the Instax Mini Link printer. The price of the instant material depends on where you buy it and how much you buy at the same time. However, as a base, you can get a pair of 10-sheet cartridges for about $ 15, which is about 75 cents each to print.

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There’s no denying that the cost-per-print for a printer that uses instant stock is expensive, even if you buy footage in bulk.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

If you hand the printer over to a child, those 10 sheets of paper can go away in minutes, and over time the cost of refilling the printer quickly adds up. For comparison, you can buy an instant camera for kids that Prints on black and white thermal paper That’ll only cost you a dime each time they’re printed. The quality is nowhere near as good as Instax Mini movies, but the novelty of having your pictures printed out is definitely still there.

As someone who loved digital photography decades ago and never looked back, I’m still amazed at how the magic of instant photography can make me spend money on footage. In barely a week, my office bulletin board is already covered in Pokémon photos, and when I play the game I will mostly focus on which creatures look good as business card-sized photos rather than impress the professor.

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I don’t know if it’s a great option for kids, but for instant photo enthusiasts, the printer has the advantage of getting pictures from almost any device through its mobile app.
photo:: Andrew Liszewski / Gizmodo

Even with the new Pokémon branding, I would hesitate to give the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link printer to kids, if only because you would have to budget for hundreds of instant prints every day. However, if you’re into instant photography – be it for aesthetic reasons or to be satisfied when you instantly hang a freshly torn print on the fridge – the Instax Mini Link printer (regardless of whether you choose the Poké- Branding or not) the better option is through dedicated instant cameras. The connectivity between smartphone and tablet gives the tiny printer the flexibility to print pictures captured on almost any device, from an expensive DSLR to a high-performance smartphone camera to a video game console, without the endless frustrations that inkjet prints do for that what feels like have plagued hundreds of years.



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