The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is not the best photo printer, nor is it even the best mini printer. 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 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.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link on March 28, 2022, with additional information about product value and a direct comparison of other similar products.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Review
Pros: Vintage film look, portable, simple
Cons: Poor image quality, high price per print
Compare to Similar Products
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
|Price||$100 List||$400 List|
$344.76 at Amazon
|$100 List||$130 List|
$99.00 at Amazon
$79.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Vintage film look, portable, simple||Consistent color, easy set-up, broad format options||Easy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizes||User-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playful||Convenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivity|
|Cons||Poor image quality, high price per print||Microbanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areas||Microbanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturation||Limited print sizes, limited tray capacity||Relatively low resolution, single print dimension|
|Bottom Line||A simple and easy to use design that produces cool-looking throwback prints of low quality||This low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end results||An easy to use mid-size printer at a good price||This portable printer kicks out quality 4" x 6" prints anytime, anywhere||This portable printer captures the fun of the old Polaroid cameras but with a fresh twist|
|Rating Categories||Fujifilm Instax Min...||Epson Expression HD...||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Canon IVY|
|Black and White (35%)|
|Print Capabilities (15%)|
|Operating Cost (10%)|
|Set up (5%)|
|Specs||Fujifilm Instax Min...||Epson Expression HD...||Canon PIXMA TR4520||Canon SELPHY CP1300||Canon IVY|
|Resolution (dots per inch)||318||5760 x 1440||4800 x 1200||300 x 300||314 x 400|
|Max photo dimensions||2.4" x 1.8"||13" x 44"||8" x 10"||4" x 6"||2" x 3"|
|Cost per print (4" x 6" or mini print)||$0.64||$0.45||$0.58||$0.43||$0.50|
|Machine dimensions||1.3" x 3.5" x 4.9"||6.3" x 18.7" x 14.5"||7.5" x 17.2" x 11.7"||2.5" x 7.1" x 5.4"||0.7" x 3.2" x 4.7"|
|Printing technology||In paper 3-color exposure with OLED||Inkjet (Piezo DOD)||Inkjet (Theromal DOD)||Inkjet (Dye- sublimation)||In paper, thermal-activated dye|
|Print time per 4" x 6" (or mini print)||9 seconds (plus developing time)||34 seconds||128 seconds||51 seconds||40 seconds|
|Color palette (ink cartridges)||N/A||Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Gray, Red||Black plus color cartridge||N/A||N/A|
|Battery||Yes||No||No||Yes (sold separately)||Yes|
|Memory cards supported||N/A||N/A||N/A||SD, SDHC, SDXC, miniSD, miniSDHC, microSD microSDHC and microSDXC||N/A|
|Ink type||N/A||Dye-based||Pigment (black) and dye-based (color)||Dye-based||N/A|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, USB (charging only)||iPad, iPhone and Android tablets, Alexa and smartphones; Ethernet networking, andard Connectivity:
Hi-Speed USB, USB Host, Wireless 802.11 b/g/n5, Wi-Fi Direct 5, Ethernet 10/100
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 2.4 GHz)
|Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN, 2.4 GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g)
Memory Card Slot
PictBridge (USB) & Wireless PictBridge (Wireless LAN)
Hi-Speed USB (Cable not included)
USB Flash Memory
|Operating system requirements||Android and iOS||Windows 10 8/8.1/Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit)
Windows Vista (32-bit , 64-bit)
Mac OS X 10.6.8 — macOS 10.12.x6
|Windows:20 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Mac:21
Mac OS X v10.10.5 - macOS v10.13 (High Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:22 iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and Fire OS (Amazon Fire) devices
|Windows:12 Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1
Mac:13 Mac OS X v10.10.x - macOS v10.12 (Sierra)
Mobile Operating Systems:14 iOS, Android™, Windows 10 Mobile, Amazon Fire devices15
|Scanner||No||No||Yes (bed and feed)||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
While this pint-sized printer doesn't boast high resolution or vivid colors, its vintage paper has a lot of appeal. The INSTAX instant film captures the classic Polaroid look. So, if you're interested in ease of use, instant gratification, and a throwback appearance, this is the machine for you. If you want lots of formatting options and high-quality images, look at desktop printers.
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 Instax Mini Link 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 we had just pulled them out of a dusty photo album. In our opinion, if you are into the old Polaroid look, the shortcomings in image quality add to this aesthetic.
Black and White Prints
If you want to render detailed images in grayscale, this is probably not your printer. 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 of 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 mid and full-size printers. As with the color evaluation, this printer is good for candid, social setting 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 mini machines, the Instax Mini Link prints in only one size, in this case, 1.8" x 2.4". Additionally, the paper capacity is limited to the ten sheets 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 various border colors — a nice variation on the classic white border look.
The operating cost metric is 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, you can set up this printer. It's that easy.
Should You Buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link?
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is among the lowest-scoring printers in this review, and it's priced similarly to all other mini printers. By this accounting, this printer is not a good value. There is only one unique and redeeming aspect of this machine: vintage-style photos. This machine is worthwhile if this look appeals to you.
What Other Photo Printers Should You Consider?
The main appeal of the Instax Mini Link is the throwback Polaroid-like pictures it produces. Aside from that, the award-winning Canon IVY produces much higher-quality photographs for a mini printer and costs the same as the Instax Mini Link. If you appreciate the Bluetooth capability of mini printers but want to produce slightly larger formats, consider the Canon SELPHY CP1300.
— Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer
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