This is my trusty 10 year old Instax camera. I got it from eBay, back before the mini photo trend took off. I don’t think I could be friends with someone who doesn’t appreciate the nostalgia of imperfect Polaroid-style prints.
The problem with carrying this camera around is thay I just never really did. But I take Instagram photos like a crazy tourist, and they pile into my phone, sucking up iCloud space, rarely making it to print immortality.
The clear solution and eventual birthday present to myself was the Fujifilm SHARE SP-1 Instax printer. Mini Instax Polaroid-style photos at my whim? That’s a win for me.
Then, as the excessive researcher I am, I came upon a smaller, even more portable printer in the Polaroid Zip. For some reason the blue color was super limited and reselling on eBay for $300. I decided to put myself on an Amazon waiting list and snatch this printer as well. You know, for the sacrifice of a thorough blog review.
Here are the two printers side-by-side:
The Fujifilm uses batteries..specialty CR2 Lithium batteries that will run you about $18USD for an 8 pack on Amazon. One set of batteries is supposed to last through 100 printings, but I’m not very confident that will be the case. You can also buy an AC adaptor for it, but that sorta kills the absolute portability of it.
Polaroid Zip ended up costing me about $30 less, though I noticed the Fujifilm Share Instax printer’s prices fluctuated quite a lot around Christmas.
Film pricing went the same way, Polaroid Zink film cost less than the Instax film. Both are sold in chunks of 10. You can find 50 sheets of Instax film for about $36 on a good day on eBay or Amazon. Zink premium paper is a little harder to come by for some reason, but keep reading for a little Zink paper hack. All of the prints are about the size of a business card. You will think of so many uses for them. You may not follow through with those uses, but the potential is there.
Instax paper is traditional magic Polaroid paper, the kind you wait to see it develop and you’re never quite sure when it’s finished developing. The border is white in a standard Instax pack, but I was playing with a bunch of sticker frames and ended up with only these for show. I do love a little tackiness.
Both printers print via app. The Instax app is fairly straight forward with limited editing tools while the Zink app had a surprising number of customization stickers and decos, as well as options for collages. The Zink editing features themselves (brightening, exposure etc were pretty sucky and just gave the pics the same blurry washed out look). But oh my collages..I love that feature.
I should mention that the Polaroid Zip prints slower than the Instax printer, noticeably slower. And the Instax printer has a button on its side in case you want to print a quick duplicate. Just a couple things I noticed in my trials.
So which printer is better? Which am I keeping and which will I return?
I’m keeping them both. They offer me enough differences that I can’t really pick one over the other. If you need photo printing perfection, go to Costco or Shutterfly. If you want something zippy with endless creative uses, go with Polaroid Zip. If you want nostalgia, photos to tuck into Christmas cards and letters, photos that are legit momentos and just feel cool, go with Fujifilm Instax printer. Honestly, I see myself getting more daily use out of the Zip, and I didn’t expect that going into this little comparison.
POLAROID ZINK HACK: You can buy older Polaroid “Pogo” film on Amazon and eBay really cheaply. I’m talking $25 for 100 sheets the last time I checked. The sellers say the paper works perfectly in the Zip printer. They aren’t quite right, and here’s why: every 10 pack of paper for printing comes with a blue card stock piece with a barcode. That blue card needs to be placed face-down into the printer with the rest of the photo paper on top. If you use the cheaper paper your printer will hate you via message box that says something like “This paper doesn’t match this printer.” To bypass this, we tossed the blue paper in the cheap packs and replaced it with the blue paper from the premium Zink paper pack that came with the printer. Now we just reuse that one same barcoded blue paper over and over again and no more print error.
The good premium Zink blue barcoded paper is the one that has the extra writing in the image below. Look closely.
Those other blue papers are shit, throw them away and don’t get them confused with the good premium barcoded card. Your Zip comes with a pack of premium paper. That’s where we got the one in this photo.
If you care deeply about quality paper, you’ll notice a definite different in weight and color quality on the premium Zink paper vs. the cheap Pogo paper. Also, the Pogo paper curls easily and just doesn’t stick quite as well as the good stuff. For now, and for my purposes, I’m good with being cheap.
Do you own these printers? What’s your take on them?