Fujifilm is revisiting its neglected Instax Wide format, the largest of its three instant film formats. The Instax Link Wide ($ 149.95) is a Bluetooth printer for smartphones, and like other Fujifilm printers, it uses instant film to make photos, not paper and ink. The Instax Link Wide produces prints twice the size of the similar Instax Link Mini; the larger size of these prints is more suitable for refrigerators and cork boards than the Instax Mini wallet size. The printer companion app adds filters, templates and other tools to spice up your instant prints. If you’re tired of staring at photos on your phone screen or just yearning for the days of Polaroid snapshots, this instant film printer might be the right remedy.
Larger Instax Format
Despite, or perhaps because of its size, Instax Wide never gained in popularity or popularity like Fujifilm’s Mini and Square instant formats. One of the advantages of the more affordable Mini format is that, because the prints are smaller, so are the cameras. Square appeals to enthusiasts and nostalgics simply because it evokes the feel of a Polaroid.
The base Instax Mini camera gets an almost annual update, and Fujifilm takes an equally aggressive approach with its Instax Square cameras. In contrast, Fujifilm only sells one large format camera, the Instax Wide 300, and it hasn’t been updated since 2015.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
Like the oversized Instax Wide 300 camera, the Instax Link Wide is larger than its counterparts in the Fujifilm line. It measures 1.3 x 5.5 x 5.0 inches (HWD) and weighs 12 ounces, a little too big to fit in most pockets. The Instax Link Mini uses smaller film, but is only 0.9 x 4.1 x 2.0 inches (HWD) and 8.7 ounces, so it’s a bit easier to pack and carry,
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
There are two color options for this model. We received the Instax Link Wide in Mocha Gray, but it is also available in Ash White. An internal battery powers the printer. It charges via a micro USB port, not the newer USB-C standard. It takes a few hours to charge using the included cable, and Fujifilm claims the battery lasts for around 100 prints per charge. This figure is a bit ambitious: I reduced the battery to around 65% after 10 prints, but made no effort to turn it off between prints. The printer will turn off after a few minutes of inactivity to help preserve life. It’s pretty easy to turn on or off – the backlit Instax logo doubles as a power button.
The Bluetooth 4.2 LE connection works with smartphones and tablets. As mentioned, the micro USB port is for charging only; You can plug the printer into a Mac or PC with the included cable like any other USB device, but there is no software to run it apart from Android and iOS. I tested the Instax Link Wide with an iPhone and a preview version of the Instax Link Wide app.
The printer is exceptionally easy to connect: it takes longer to download the application than to configure the wireless link between your phone and the printer. You also don’t need to remove your phone from your home Wi-Fi network to print, which makes it a bit easier to use than a Wi-Fi printer. The downside is the speed of the Link Wide: it takes approximately 30 seconds from pressing the Print button on the application to ejecting the film from the printer.
Add a few more minutes for the photo to develop fully. You can watch the image emerge from the white nothingness, but don’t bother shaking your image, it doesn’t speed up the process. You can see it happening in front of your eyes in the video above – we’ve sped it four times.
Because the Link Wide relies on a photographic development process rather than a printing process, so you never have to buy ink or thermal ribbons. You will need to purchase film, however, which is more expensive than inkjet photo paper. Instax Wide film comes in 10-take cartridges, with the standard double pack priced between $ 20 and $ 1 per print. You won’t save much by buying in bulk, a pack of 10 cartridges costs around $ 95 at time of printing.
Monochrome film is also available, for a small fee ($ 1.30 per print), but there’s no real way to use it with the printer. I printed a few test shots in black and white on Instax color film, including a conversion from the Ricoh GR color sensor and true digital black and white images from the Leica M10 Monochrom. They are suitably monochrome, with no visible color cast.
Photos have a glossy finish, ideal for deeper blacks in monochrome prints and colors that stand out a little more than with a matte or gloss finish. The color photos are also stunning. I have printed photos from multiple cameras including the Fujifilm GFX 50R, Leica M10-R, and Nikon Z 7.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
The resolution and color depth captured by these high-end cameras is well represented in the print, matching the quality of Instax Mini and Square prints, but simply enlarged. The larger format is a bit more punchy. A minor issue is that the film is thin enough to flex, so be careful not to crease the prints.
When it comes to alternative formats, Polaroid sells the Instant Lab, a larger device that uses Polaroid I-Type film in square format. The film costs more and doesn’t show the same vibrant color as Instax, but the larger square format has a nostalgic charm. However, the materials are more expensive and the cost per photo is closer to $ 2.
Low-cost Zink has long been a popular ink-less format. The thermal paper is smaller, similar to Instax Mini’s wallet size, but only costs around $ 0.50 per print. However, I have always been disappointed with its print quality. Some colors just don’t translate and Zink shows heavy dithering. You can see an example of poor color reproduction in our review of the Polaroid Insta-Share Printer, a complementary Zink printer for Motorola MotoMod phones. If you care about print quality, Zink is a no-starter.
The InstaxLink Wide app includes tools to help you get better prints, create collages, add custom clip art, or print photos with QR code links. I tested the app with an iPhone running iOS 15, but it is also available for Android phones.
The app includes three basic printing modes: Simple, Collage and Editable Template
Basic printing is easy: the app loads photos from your camera roll, so you can print any photo you’ve saved to your phone. The application’s simple print screen displays a preview of the printout and offers basic filters to improve output. For example, the Auto option adjusts colors and brightness. One-click sepia and monochrome looks are also available. Cropping, rotating and manual exposure adjustment tools complement the capabilities of the app.
You can choose from a set of pre-designed templates, perfect for birthday cards, save dates, and other homemade keepsakes. There are collage templates too, a great way to highlight a few favorite images in one print. Wide format is more useful for collages than Instax Mini or Square film formats.
QR and Sketch, Edit and Print codes are available if you want to use them
The app has several features that should appeal to younger people, but are lost on this millennial geriatric photographer. You can add stickers: there are lots of emoji and clipart images available, or you can create your own using the app’s Sketch, Edit, and Print functions. The Sketch feature uses your phone’s camera to take a photo and converts it into a vector art sticker.
Fujifilm continues to include the option for QR codes. You can add a caption, web link, location pin, or sound clip to your photos. You (or a friend) can then use a smartphone to scan the code. Fujifilm hosts the linked files on its servers for two years before they expire.
Instax Wide gets her turn
Fujifilm’s line of wireless instant photo printers are well established; the first SP-1 for the Mini film format debuted in 2014. But the Instax Link Wide is the first to support the company’s largest film format. It’s a bit bigger than the others in the series, but not as bulky to carry as the cameras that use it; the Instax Wide 300 and the Lomo’Instant Wide are downright bulky.
(Photo: Jim Fisher)
Instant film printing is an attractive alternative to traditional processes. At a cost of around $ 1 per print, that’s an expensive proposition if you do a ton of prints. But we think the premium is worth it compared to other ink-less formats. The alternatives just don’t match the quality you get from Fujifilm’s Instax chemistry, which shows crisp detail and excellent color.
There are a few other models to consider if you like the idea of ââinstant film prints but aren’t sold on Instax Wide. The Instax Mini Link costs around $ 100 and has a very similar feature set. For around $ 160, you can opt for the Instax Mini LiPlay, a digital camera with a built-in printer that prints from its memory card or your phone’s film. Fans of the square format can opt for the Instax Share SP-3, another app-based or Instant Lab device from Polaroid.
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