Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Review
Pros: Vintage film look, portable, simple
Cons: Poor image quality, high price per print
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is not the best printer, nor is it the best mini printer for that matter. This might show our age, but the entire review staff loved the vintage look of the prints that this machine produced. The colors were off, the resolution was a bit blurry, but the images still looked really cool to us. In a time where professional-quality photo technology is available to the layperson, a printer like this reminds us that there is more to photography than high resolution.
We conducted many hours of side-by-side color quality evaluations of the printers in this review. Our critique focused on resolution and overall impression. To put it bluntly, the Fujifilm did not perform well in comparison to its peers. Its resolution was poor, its dynamic range was limited, and the whites tended to be blown out. However, the skin tones and color fidelity were reasonably accurate.
While we all want decent resolution in our pictures, for shots of people, color accuracy is arguably more important. This printer also produced a warm tonal cast in the images. This coloring added a vintage appearance as if they had just been pulled out of a dusty photo album. In our opinion, if you are into the old Polaroid look, the shortcomings in image quality actually add to this aesthetic.
Black and White
If you want to render detailed images in grayscale, this is probably not the printer for you. As one tester put it, "the resolution is abysmal." Additionally, the dynamic range on the Instax Mini Link is at the lowest end of the class. The resulting lack in tonal transitions leaves out a lot of details as the darkest and lightest areas are washed out.
On the upside, given that we're talking about a mini printer, the color is surprisingly good and keeps with the original image. However, there is a slight magenta cast through light grey, but this kind of warming is present in many of the mid and full-size printers as well. As with the color evaluation, this printer is good for candid, social setting type imagery, and would be great fun at a party.
This metric looks at the paper types and dimensions that the machine can accommodate as well as other features like print time and tray capacity. As is the case for all of the mini machines, the Fujifilm prints in only one size, in this case 1.8" x 2.4". Additionally, the paper capacity is limited to the 10 sheets that come in a sealed pack.
It's not all bad news. This machine kicks out pictures in just 9 seconds. Although the development of this image takes a bit of time, you can immediately start on the next picture. Another cool feature is that, although there is only one type of proprietary paper (INSTAX) that the printer will accept, that paper comes in a variety of border colors — a nice variation on the classic white border look.
The operating cost metric is an assessment of how much it costs to maintain the printer. The maintenance cost is expressed in the form of price per print. In the case of mini printers, this is not an estimate because the photo paper is self-developing and no estimates of ink consumption are required. Thus, the cost of a single piece of photo paper — in this case $0.64 — is the operating cost of the Instax Mini Link.
While 64 cents is not the cheapest cost per print, it's certainly not the most expensive in the class either. There is a catch though. The mid and full-size printers cost per print estimated was based on a 4" x 6" picture, while the mini printer's images are less than half the size.
When you line up mini printers next to their desktop counterparts as we have done here, the mini printers are cast in the shadow of their bigger brothers. However, when it comes to set-up, the mini-printers cast the desktop models in a bad light. These mini printers are so easy to operate and in their simplicity comes a lot of opportunities to have fun digitally editing the pics before you hit print.
So, what does it take to get the Instax Mini Link up and running? If you can download an app and make a Bluetooth connection then you can set-up this printer. It's that easy.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is among the lowest scoring printers in this review and yet it's priced similarly to all the other mini printers. By this accounting, this printer is not a good value. There is only one unique and redeeming aspect of this machine, and that is the vintage-style photos it renders. If this look appeals to you, then the machine will have value.
The main appeal of the Instax Mini Link is the throwback Polaroid-like pictures it produces. That, and it is easy to set-up and operate. Aside from these notable characteristics, this machine has limited capabilities and relatively low image quality. That said, if the Polaroid cameras of old appeal to you, this printer is worth a gander.
— Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer