If you're the sort who wants to look spontaneous without actually being spontaneous, then the Fuji Instax Link Wide is for you. It'll let you print snaps taken with your far superior phone camera as if you were wielding one of the company's instant snappers. Best of all, every shot will be perfect.
Everybody loves Fujifilm’s Instax cameras. If you don’t like them, you either don’t have a soul, or you lead a very solitary existence. Which is fine, but you’d like ’em of you went out more. Just sayin’. But, for a certain sort of person, instant cameras aren’t perfect. This is where the Instax Link Wide, and other products like it, come in.
A boring box
The Instax Link Wide is, in a nutshell, an instant camera that’s missing the camera bit. Another way to describe it is as a very specialised Bluetooth printer. But that doesn’t sound nearly as sexy, does it? The Link Wide isn’t really a sexy device though. It’s just a blocky white rectangle, with a slot for prints to slide out of, and a charge port in the base.
That’s… about it. It looks like a particularly boring Discman knockoff — one without the contoured edges Sony favoured back in the day. The plastic casing is marked by broad textures, mostly to ensure it doesn’t slip, and there’s also a strap attached, in case you need even more security.
Bigger on the inside
But the Instax Link Wide is all about what comes out of it, and you’re going to handle the bulk of that. Like we said, it’s a plain old picture printer. It loads Instax Wide film (20 sheets will run you about R250). That, plus a Bluetooth connection, and you’ve got yourself the perfect instant camera. That is; one that isn’t instant at all.
See, the charm of an instant camera is that you get what you get. The moments captured tend to look and feel real as a result. There’s just no going back and doing it again. But sometimes you want the feel of immediacy but none of the faulty shots. After all, it comes down to about R12.50 a picture here. Who wants to waste that on an out-of-focus shot of beach sand because they tripped while holding the camera?
So what you do is send your best and brightest, via the Instax Wide app, to the printer. You lose some of the reality, but the past two years have proved that reality was always a little overrated. So that’s fine.
Designs on something good
The app is a glorified print centre. It’s a decent place to scroll through your images and find the ones you’d like to stick on the fridge, but the interface is a little stodgy. Still, it gets the job done. Especially if you’re not especially interested in making alterations. Even then, there are some basic filter options to play with prior to swiping the print button. After that, it’s a case of waiting out the print and then the gradual development.
There are a few other options to be found in the app as well. You can create collages by picking an image template and dragging your chosen images into the empty blocks. This works well enough, but the 62 x 99mm don’t leave you a lot of space to work with. Of slightly more interest are additions to the image. There’s a simple design suit in the app that might get some use if you’re fond of kitsch. Otherwise, it’s more likely that you’ll play with a few of the templates and then never bother with that section ever again. Or maybe we just have no poetry in our souls, who knows.
Fujifilm Instax Link Wide Verdict
Fuji’s Instax Link Wide is little more than a glorified portable printer and yes, it’s going to cost more money to use than it will to buy. The printer is about R2,000 (depending on where you buy it). Printing 100 images — which is a single charge of its battery — will cost around R2,500. It’s… a speciality item then, but one that you’ll probably appreciate having around if you’re fond of that retro Polaroid look when it comes to decorating your home. Your snaps will only be as real as you want them to be, which is just what everyone seems to want in a world dominated by social media. Might as well make your physical media follow suit.
Supported image formats: JPEG, PNG, HEIF, DNG
Print time: 12 seconds (approx.)
Images (pack): 10
Charge time: up to 2 hours
Prints on a charge: 100 (approx.)