Sunday 21 April 2019

Fuji printer is an instant hit for your pin-up shots

Tech focus: Fuji Instax SP-3

€199 from Conns Cameras

Fuji Instax SP-3
Fuji Instax SP-3
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Be honest: when is the last time you printed off a photo you really like from your phone or social feed? If you're like me, it's something you're constantly 'about to get around to'. But the day never quite happens.

This is where a new wave of instant printers are really useful.

One that I've become attached to is Fuji's new Instax SP-3. It prints square photos (6cm x 6cm) on Polaroid-style paper (8.6cm x 7.2cm) with large white borders around the actual picture.

What I like is the quality of the prints. This looks way better than photo paper I see coming from some small photo printers currently on the market. Colours are comparatively well-treated and there's decent detail with 318 dots per inch. That's not to say that it's perfect. As is common in small instant prints, there's a certain amount of washed outness, meaning that the system defaults to a brightly exposed standard.

But in context, the square framing looks terrific and the overall finish is superb.

It takes between 10 and 15 seconds from when you tap 'print' on your phone to when you have the print in your hand (plus around another 60 to 90 seconds until it's fully developed). It's nice and quiet, too, thanks to a new laser system that Fuji uses.

One of the advantages to this mini-printer is that it can take shots directly from your social feeds (via the free Instax app for your phone).

Setting it up at first will probably lead to one or two misfires. For example, when printing directly from a social media account such as Instagram, it unhelpfully crops the photo to include the time, date, Instagram account and number of likes the photo received, as well as the first two lines of whatever text you posted. I suspect few would want this on a printed photo: to remove it requires going into the edit sections each time.

As has become the norm, the replacement paper-cartridge combinations aren't cheap at €11 for 10 sheets or €20 for 20 sheets.

But because you're printing from carefully selected shots (maybe already edited), you're unlikely to waste much of it.

As for its portability, this isn't a large device, but you'll notice it in a bag and it's a little too bulky for a pocket.

I was a little surprised at its angular design as it's a more masculine shape than I suspect its main audience might be. It comes in a choice of black or white.

It's possible that someone may be deciding between one of these and an actual instant printing camera, such as one of Fuji's Instax range (the €90 Mini 9 or the €135 Instax Wide). I would argue that they are completely different devices with different use cases and motivations.

Getting a printer like this means you're getting a much more deliberate, edited photo, one that's probably of higher overall quality. An instant camera is much more ephemeral and spontaneous: there's no filtering or editing, you get one shot and then you have a print. However, there's a certain magic to this that you don't quite get with pre-approved photos from your social feed or your phone.

Overall, the SP-3 is a really excellent little printer that produces keeper shots you'll want to stick up somewhere.

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