Reviews You Can Rely On

Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Review

A simple and easy to use design that produces cool-looking throwback prints of low quality
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
Credit: Jason Peters
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Price:   $100 List | $159.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Vintage film look, portable, simple
Cons:  Poor image quality, high price per print
Manufacturer:   Fujifilm
By Nick Miley, Jason Peters and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Apr 6, 2020
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27
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Color - 35% 2
  • Black and White - 35% 2
  • Print Capabilities - 15% 3
  • Operating Cost - 10% 4
  • Set-Up - 5% 9

Our Verdict

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, have a look at desktop printers.

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Pros Vintage film look, portable, simpleConsistent color, easy set-up, broad format optionsEasy to use, decent resolution, prints common sizesUser-friendly, sharp images, affordable, playfulConvenient, simple, inexpensive, bluetooth connectivity
Cons Poor image quality, high price per printMicrobanding in grayscale, relatively low definition in dark areasMicrobanding in larger formats, off skin tones, over saturationLimited print sizes, limited tray capacityRelatively low resolution, single print dimension
Bottom Line A simple and easy to use design that produces cool-looking throwback prints of low qualityThis low-cost, full-sized machine delivers high-end resultsAn easy to use mid-size printer at a good priceThis portable printer kicks out quality 4" x 6" prints anytime, anywhereThis 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
Color (35%)
2.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Black And White (35%)
2.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Print Capabilities (15%)
3.0
8.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
Operating Cost (10%)
4.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Set Up (5%)
9.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Fujifilm Instax Min... Epson Expression HD... Canon PIXMA TR4520 Canon SELPHY CP1300 Canon IVY
Resolutioin (dots per inch) 318 5760 x 1440 4800 x 1200 300 x 300 314 x 400
Max photo deminsions (inches) 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 deminsions (HxWxD inches) 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
LCD screen No Yes No Yes No
Touch Screen No No No No No
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
Roller paper No No No No No
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
Hi-Speed USB
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
Blutooth
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, Androidâ„¢, Windows 10 Mobile, Amazon Fire devices15
Android, iOS
Scanner No No Yes (bed and feed) No No

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.

Performance Comparison


The heavy, classic-looking borders on the Link's prints go a long...
The heavy, classic-looking borders on the Link's prints go a long way in mitigating the low color quality.
Credit: Laura Casner

Color


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.

This printer did not inspire anyone with the abysmal quality of the...
This printer did not inspire anyone with the abysmal quality of the grayscale prints.
Credit: Laura Casner

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.

Limited by the instant paper used, the Link can't compete with the...
Limited by the instant paper used, the Link can't compete with the desktop printers.
Credit: Laura Casner

Print Capabilities


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.

Among the most expensive printer in the cost per printer analysis;...
Among the most expensive printer in the cost per printer analysis; this fact is exacerbated by the much smaller print size (2" x 4") compared to the desktop machines (4" x 6").
Credit: Laura Casner

Operating Costs


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.

You can't beat a mini-printer for ease of set-up via a smartphone app.
You can't beat a mini-printer for ease of set-up via a smartphone app.
Credit: Laura Casner

Set-up


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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