Instant printing has always been something of a phenomenon to me, I'm not old enough to reminisce about the old Polaroid days, but I was always fascinated by the capabilities those cameras possessed. To be able to take a picture and instantly get results is nothing short of amazing. I never understood why that technology didn't progress, I mean I understand why it faded as a business, but I don't understand why the cameras got bigger, bulkier and less stylish. But that's neither here nor there.
As cool as the idea of instant photography was, I never thought about owning one myself, I was fine with digital, it wasn't tangible, but it was instant, in a sense, and when Wi-Fi capabilities were introduced then the idea of an actual print became non-existent, Instagram was my new Polaroid and I think many others fell into the same wave.
I remember going into Urban Outfitters one day and seeing this huge selection of Polaroid products, from t-shirts, to coffee books to even instant cameras, rebranded by a company called Impossible. This caused me to do a little research, I wanted to know about this Impossible company, and how they got a hold of these instant cameras. To my surprise there was so much information on this brand, I don't know how I didn't discover them long before, but I wanted to find out more.
I came across a documentary explaining the history of Polaroid and the emergence of the Impossible Project, it was very touching, it changed my entire perspective on photography. These people, they were so attached and passionate about Polaroids, it almost made me teary eyed. I felt betrayed, or maybe unfortunate is a better word, as much as I love my camera and photography I didn't have the same connection to my images as they did. I simply snapped a picture and moved on, there was no appreciation. If SD cards became obsolete tomorrow I could give two shits, on to the next big thing. Not them, they were sad, depressed and not sure how they were going to continue to shoot if Polaroid stopped producing their beloved film. I wanted this connection, I had to try it out.
I first began to research the Polaroids I had heard about in the documentary, they looked cool and weren't too expensive, but I have this issue with brand loyalty. I didn't want to own a ton of Fuji equipment and then a Polaroid on the side, I know this seems crazy, but it's apart of my OCD, I simply just can't function like that. I went back to Urban Outfitters that week to see if i could test out camera in person, and that was the moment I saw the Fuji branded instant camera, I was literally screaming. Unfortunately I can't buy things on impulse, I'm big on reviews and I didn't want any "off brand" unit, so I went home to do my research... And I was blown away!
I had no idea Fuji was leading this entire reemergence of instant photography. I read about the Instax Share Printer and it was something that I had to have, it was perfect because this way I could take high quality images on my X-T1 and then share them instantly right through Wi-Fi. Only thing that was holding me back was the price tag, I couldn't fathom spending $200 on this novelty, not to mention how expensive the film is, it just didn't seem practical. After a week or so my fascination with instant photography had faded and like most of the world I forgot it even existed.
On Christmas Eve I went over to my girlfriends family house to open up our gifts, it wasn't my first time meeting her entire family, but my first time actually engaging with them for a long period of time. I talked to her younger cousin for a bit and she had the Fuji Instax Mini 8, I was excited because I was a Fuji user, and it was cool to see someone younger with a brand that I was so found of. She had this huge box of Instax film that she had printed off from her camera, now that I think about it I have no idea how she afforded all that. But yeah, I was amazed, the pictures were so small, but they were so detailed, it was so much room to tell a story and each time she showed me a picture I could see her reliving that moment. And... thats what photography is about, the moments, I think sometimes as professionals we tend to forget that, I know I do.
I looked over to my girlfriend and said "I want this for my birthday." She smiled and shook her head... I counted down the days. And well it's finally here!
Now, that this extended introduction is over, lets get into my initial thoughts.
When I first received the Instax Printer I was super excited to open the box and start printing pictures of my daughter. I neatly open the packaging and took the printer out, to my surprise it had a little weight to it, it wasn't heavy but, I don't know it just appeared thinner in pictures... definitely portable though. I placed it down and that was it, nothing else was in the box, I was so bummed out, eventually I did find the batteries, but for the price tag, it should at least come with a pack of film... I finally let go of my pride and purchased a Twin pack of B&H and I was ready to use the device.
First, you must download the Fuji Instax App via your phone's dedicated App store. The next step is to install the batteries, the Instax Printer uses 2 CR2 batteries, these are rather expensive, almost $20 for a pack of 2 at Radio Shack! Fuji states that you should be able to go through about 100 prints before the batteries die, but with actual testing, I'd say it's more around 70 or so. You can also buy these batteries in bulk, here are the ones that I use, these were suggested by Fuji photographer Zack Arias. He also suggested this USB connector for those who aren't too fond of the battery power option.
Once you get the device powered on, go into the app and tap the "printer settings" icon. Here you can set your device's password, it's going to ask for a default password which is 1111 for every printer, once you set your password you can go ahead and connect to your phone or camera.
Last but not least, insert the film pack, make sure you align both the yellow lines on the rear, once that is done correctly your printer should print out a plastic disk, you can toss that, it's not important, just confirmation that you installed your film correctly. From that point it's pretty simple, select which photo you want printed, and toggle through Fuji's editing options and print away... Simple, simple, simple!
The photos come out really quick, and the developing is super fast as well. As far as the quality... ehhh they are subpar. I guess they are better quality than the previous Polaroids I saw, but they don't look better than the ones I saw printed from the Fuji instax Mini 8 my girlfriends cousin had, I thought this would be different since they were coming from a more expensive camera, but I guess not. Although the printing process is easy I found that a lot of times the photos didn't come out as I had wished, which caused me to reprint... I've had to do this a few times, and it wouldn't be a problem if the film wasn't a $1 per sheet.
Initially, I guess I was a bit disappointed, the photos weren't amazing quality and for the price I just expected more... But did I really? I never bought this printer to obtain museum like quality, I purchased it because I wanted to look back at moments of my life that would otherwise get lost somewhere in my hard drive. I wanted to share prints with subjects who posed for my projects, models who booked me for sessions, to see the bride and groom smile at their wedding when I provide them with their FIRST photo together and most importantly, I wanted to finally began that scrapbook for my daughter!
The Instax printer was probably my best buy of the year thus far, and it's only January, since acquiring I've taken advantage of any discounts on film that I've come across on Amazon, it looks like they've been getting cheaper lately so stock up ladies and gents!
The Fuji Instax Share Printer is available for purchase at Amazon.
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