Filming for us
Fujifilm is a company both loved and hated by photographers.
It both produces digital cameras beloved by photographers (myself included) while also cutting stocks of iconic 35mm films like the Pro 400H, which makes me cry. And while the 35mm film totally has a moment right now (see Casey Neistat’s tweet below), I don’t think anyone would argue that the negative film is a big and growing business. But that doesn’t mean cinema is dead, it just means it’s evolving.
If you’ve been to a wedding in the past 10 years, you’ve probably seen one of the cameras below. It’s a Fujifilm Instax camera; instant film pack comes in, you take a photo, an image comes out. The camera itself is exactly what it should be; relatively inexpensive, super easy to use, and sturdy enough for events where people need to use it after a few margaritas.
But let’s face it, no one wants to lug around an Instax camera all the time. Many of us pay a parcel money to have great cameras in our phones, after all. But physical photographs are objectively much cooler than digital ones, and that’s why Fuji has always had a line of Instax printers, like the Instax SP-3 which prints on Instax Square film and the Instax Mini Link, which prints on the adorable little Instax Mini Film as the name suggests.
The latest entry in Fujifilm’s line of printers is the Instax Link Wide, and this printer aims to get BIG.
I love printers, but they’re not the most attractive device you’ll find in a person’s home. This is not the case with the Instax Link Wide; its soft corners and subtly tessellated surface are pleasant to look at and to hold.
Much like Instax cameras, there are gloriously few ways to interact with the Instax Link Wide – you can load a film cartridge, unload a film cartridge, load it on the micro-USB port (boo, give- us USB-C), and press the big button to turn it on and off. These are all the things you can do with this printer, and it’s awesome.
A nice touch is the included stand, which allows you to prop the printer sideways or upwards. I like having it face up, so when you print it it appears like a little toaster. I like this.
What I don’t like is Fujifilm’s app for the Instax Link Wide. First of all, Fujifilm’s apps are kind of a chaotic mess; Sometimes the company creates an app for a specific product, which this printer does, and sometimes the company has an app that works with multiple devices, like the picture sync app for their cameras. In all of these apps Fujifilm has extremely inconsistent visual language and if we’re being honest the apps are pretty buggy.
For people who want something simple, the Link Wide app isâ¦ okay. It helps you connect to the printer, and once connected, the interface is simple and easy to use. I really wish there were more controls for the pros, but as it is, it works pretty well.
On the app home screen, four options are displayed: âSimple Printâ, âEditable Template Printâ, âCollage Printâ and âSketch, Edit and Printâ and yes, the latter is a nightmare of all caps and punctuation (I’m glad you noticed). Several of them mainly do the same thing; all of them except the âSimple Printâ option allow you to add more elements to your print, such as more photos or graphics and text.
The printing process is quite simple: just connect to the printer, select a photo or make a collage and print. What is more difficult is to get Well impressions. Translating what you see on your phone screen into a flat sheet of chemical emulsion is a complicated process, and because Fujifilm targets regular consumers, the app is set up to hold your hand the entire way.
In press materials, Fujifilm touts a new mode called “Instax-Rich Mode”, which “features extra vivid colors”, and this is enabled by default. At first I bristled with this choice, but after printing a number of images side by side to compare the two modes, honestly, I would never print in natural mode.
Fuji does a lot with this mode in order to help people get prints that look like law. And that’s not easy, because people will print images that have already been edited for the screen alongside images that haven’t been edited at all. In my experience, the way to get really nice prints is to feed the Link Wide app with unedited JPEGs. Rich mode will also do its best to restrict your edited footage, but in everything I’ve printed I’ve found it’s best to let Fuji take the wheel from the start.
One thing I noticed in these prints is the aliasing and moirÃ©. Although this is an 800 speed movie, Instax Wide is quite large, so it should have a decent resolution (for film). But in the example below you can see some pretty severe moirÃ©, and in my partner’s photo there is a bit of aliasing in his glasses. This could be low resolution on the part of the printer’s internal display, or a lousy scaling algorithm occurring in the Link Wide app. Either way, it detracts from what would otherwise be wonderful prints.
At $ 149.95 without film, this printer is expensive. If you want an instant film printer, you actually have a lot of options between the Fuji, Polaroid, Canon, and even Kodak offerings. But Fuji is the only company to offer a full line of proven instant cameras, films, and printers, all available just about anywhere.
This printer is awesome.
I’m disappointed with the aliasing and moirÃ© issue, but I hope Fujifilm can at least alleviate it with a software update to the Link Wide app. I also think there is a lot to like about the Link Wide app that doesn’t necessarily appeal to me, like the collage and edit modes, but I’ve tried them and they work well.
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Overall, if you like the see of the Instax Wide image, regular consumers and professionals alike will be pleased with this small printer. Sure, you could spend a bit more and get a good inkjet printer that can do quality prints, but honestly it’s just not the same. You can’t just give someone a naked 4×4 print, that’s just plain rude. This printer is awesome, and when you see your photo popping out of the top like a little toaster, you won’t think about the $ 150.