The Instant Joy of the Instax Mini Link Printer

I recently purchased a Fujifilm Instax Mini Link instant film printer, which is a way to make Instax pictures from non-Instax cameras. It has already proven to be a lot of fun! I’ve been using the Mini Link to make instant film pictures from some of my recent road trip photographs, and it’s been a true joy to use!

As you might know, Instax is Fujifilm’s most popular photographic line, outselling X and GFX by leaps and bounds. It’s extremely popular worldwide, especially among younger people. Instax is currently the top-selling instant film brand, even more popular than Polaroid.

We have a couple of Instax cameras in our house, but sometimes it’s not practical to carry them around. These cameras are larger than my Fujifilm X100V and Fujifilm X-E4, so occasionally an Instax camera comes along with us, but oftentimes not; however, now that I have an Instax Mini Link printer, this is no longer a problem. In fact, in some ways, the Mini Link is actually better than an Instax camera.

The Instax Mini Link instant film printer is just a little smaller than the Instax Neo Classic Mini 90, yet pretty similar in size. It can fit fairly easily into a camera bag, but, unless you are going to an event and want to be able to instantly share pictures on-location, you might as well leave it at home. Not needing to carry around an Instax camera or even the printer is an advantage to using the Mini Link.

No surprise, the Mini Link uses Instax Mini instant film, which measures 2.1″ x 3.4″ with a 1.8″ x 2.4″ image inside the frame. It’s not a large picture whatsoever, but a good size for a travel journal or sharing with someone. Instax film quickly gets expensive. When you use an Instax camera, you don’t know what you’ve got until the picture develops. If it’s an important image (such as family or friends at an iconic location at a National Park), you have to wait a couple minutes for the image to develop, and if it didn’t come out you have to snap a second or maybe even a third frame. But with the Mini Link, you only print the images you want, which saves you both time and film (and ultimately money).

Another advantage of using the Mini Link printer over an Instax camera is that the picture quality is better. Instant film isn’t necessarily known for its high resolution renderings (although this can and certainly has varied), and I think the Instax cameras themselves often don’t allow you to get the highest potential image quality out of the film. While you still have the limitation of the film, using a Fujifilm X camera (or even a cellphone) to capture the images can improve the Instax picture quality. Instax cameras don’t seem to allow you to maximize the film capability, but the Mini Link definitely does allow you to maximize the image quality of the Instax Mini film.

The photographs that I printed on my Instax Mini Link printer were captured with my Fujifilm X100V and X-E4 cameras using various Film Simulation Recipes, as well as pictures captured on my iPhone using my RitchieCam camera app using various filters. While the printed photos retain much of their original aesthetics, the film itself has its own aesthetics that affect the outcome, so it is a combination of the recipe or filter plus the film that make the final Instax image. I especially like how the Nostalgic Color and Fujicolor Super HG recipes—and the MetroColor and Color Negative Low filters on the RitchieCam app—render on Instax film, but I certainly haven’t tried all of the recipes or filters. It’s amazing, though, how Fujifilm Film Simulation Recipes and RitchieCam filters pair so seemingly well with Instax film printed on the Mini Link.

What about the images in this article? The top two pictures were captured with my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens using my Fujicolor Superia 100 recipe, while the third was captured on my iPhone using the Faded Film filter on the RitchieCam app. The printer requires you to use the Instax Mini Link app to wirelessly (via bluetooth) transfer pictures from your electronic device to the printer. There are several “creative” options within the app that allow you to “enhance” your pictures, but I haven’t found a reason to use these—simply, the fun is found in the magic of instant film. Printing my digital photographs—captured on my Fujifilm X cameras and the RitchieCam app—on Instax Mini film is a true joy, and the Mini Link printer allows me to do this.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Printer Amazon B&H
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The Joy of Instant Film — A Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Review

Back when I was a kid, my family had a Polaroid camera, which we often used to capture memorable moments. Christmas, birthdays, and vacations were all made permanent on instant film. My dad had a 35mm SLR that he used sometimes, but when you look through the old picture books from my adolescence, a large percentage of the photos are Polaroids. My childhood was captured on instant film.

There’s magic in instant film photography. The camera would spit out a print, which started out completely white and would slowly reveal an image. Maybe you’d shake it, hoping to speed up the process. Back when I was young most things weren’t “instant” like today, so having a tangible picture in mere moments was a seemingly impossible novelty. The cameras were easy to use—even a child could capture pictures, and my brother, sister and I were occasionally granted permission to be photographers. The legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams published a book on instant film photography. It didn’t matter if you were a complete novice or experienced pro, the magic of instant film photography was for everyone.

Polaroid is no longer the king of instant film. Fujifilm, with their Instax line of cameras and film, is number one. Introduced in 1998, Instax was an immediate hit, but like Polaroid, it was greatly affected by the emerging digital camera technology, and sales began to decline sharply after 2002. Polaroid jumped ship in 2008 (they’ve since returned), but Fujifilm continued the Instax brand, and in 2009 sales began trending up. Today, Instax is Fujifilm’s top selling photography product by a large margin.

My oldest daughter, Joy, was gifted a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera for Christmas five years ago, and she loves to photograph with it! The Mini 8 was introduced by Fujifilm in 2012, so it’s by no means a new camera, but, since it was a popular model, nearly a decade later you can still find it sometimes brand-new. I asked Joy to write a couple paragraphs about this camera and Instax photography to include in this review.

“I like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8,” Joy began, “because of the many possibilities that come with the camera! I love the pastel blue color of my Instax. To capture a picture, there is a button near the lens that must be pushed first, which pops the lens forward and powers the camera on. There’s a ring around the lens that controls the brightness of the picture. Choose between Indoors, Cloudy, Cloudy and Sunny mixed, Sunny, and Hi-Key. Press the circle shaped button and a picture comes out the side of the camera. My Instax Mini 8 is amazing!”

“Taking pictures with my Instax is super exciting! I like to photograph plants, cities and my family. There are two trails near where I live that are my favorite places for pictures. The Instax Mini 8 has a flash that cannot be turned off, so sometimes my pictures will come out too bright. It takes a little practice to capture good pictures with this camera. I have four different colored filters that attach to the lens, and I can change the color of the photos with these filters. I have taken pictures with different films. The film loads into the back of the camera, and it’s easy to change. I love the awesome pictures I capture with my Instax Mini 8!”

There are three different Instax sizes. Mini measures 2.1″ x 3.4″ with a 1.8″ x 2.4″ image. Square measures 2.8″ x 3.4″ with a 2.4″ x 2.4″ image. Wide measures 4.3″ x 3.4″ with a 3.9″ x 2.4″ image. No surprise, Mini is the smallest, and most lo-fi. Image quality isn’t especially great, but that’s a part of the charm. The instant-film magic is what makes the Instax Mini a fascinating camera.

The biggest cost with Instax is the film. It adds up quickly. You can save a little by buying in bulk, but it’s still not cheap. There’s a real cost with each picture, but you get a tangible photograph, which is uncommon anymore. Holding a physical image is also a part of the instant film magic. More importantly, Instax is fun, and there certainly is a childlike joy photographing with the Mini 8 camera.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Fujifilm Instax Mini Film B&H
Fujifilm Instax Cameras B&H

Below are some of Joy’s Instax photographs captured with her Mini 8 camera: