The Wide format is invited on the new printer of the Instax range. Did the Wide Link make a good impression on us? Test.
Developed in the 1950s by Polaroid, the instant photography process is experiencing a resurgence in popularity around the world. In an age of dematerialized everything, brands want to address fans of film and physical photos, and play on nostalgia with these small cardboard photographs. The success has been such that in recent years, all brands have devoted themselves to snapshots. This is the case of Fujifilm, which largely dominates the market with its Instax range.
But if these devices are already a success, the brand does not stop there. It is also developing new generation printers, capable of transposing photos taken with your smartphone directly onto paper. Fujifilm understands it well, the best ally of budding photographers is in their pocket. While smartphones adopt more efficient sensors than each other, the brand is now aimed at those who would like to transpose their virtual memories into reality.
The Instax Link Wide, XXL version of its printer released earlier this year, offers to print its images on a snapshot in… Wide format. If it has already been around for some time, it invites itself for the first time on a printer of the brand. With its larger dimensions, 86 x 108mm, it promises to pay homage to your group selfies as well as to the landscapes you immortalized during your last vacation. Did the result live up to our expectations?
Higher quality, but definitely less retro
We will not hide it, the charm of Polaroid lies more in its atypical format than in the quality of its shots. The cameras of the genre are improving everywhere, but it is above all the grain and the very particular colorimetry of the images that appeals to followers. At Fujifilm, moreover, the Instax Mini are selling like hot cakes and seduce with their pastel colors and their format suitable for travel.
So when Fujifilm chose to enter the instant printer sector, it was already shaping up to be a hit. If the shooting process is arguably less fun, it makes it possible to address a younger audience, for whom the smartphone has replaced the large cameras. After three rather small models, Fujifilm sees things in a big way. With Wide, the photographs will be larger, for better or for worse.
From the first uses, what literally jumps to the eye is the quality of the shots. The slightly “blurry” effect of the snapshots is hardly visible anymore and the printing does justice to our most beautiful images. They have more pique, although it is not comparable with an impression or a professional development, nevertheless, it is an improvement which is important to emphasize.
However, as sharp as they are, the images clearly lack character. The retro aspect of the images is sacrificed on the altar of performance and the tool loses (a little) of its interest.
Note, however, that sometimes the printing does not really do justice to the processing of the images, especially when it comes to photos taken with a DSLR and retouched on Lightroom. As you might expect, the tool is aimed more at amateurs of group photos than experienced photographers. This positioning allows it to offer a simple and more intuitive experience, and that’s not bad.
An augmented experience
Unlike the more classic cameras in the Instax range, the Link Wide relies on its application to do its work. Available on iOS and Android, it allows you to import your images directly from the library, to be able to edit them briefly and start printing.
Before embarking on this whole process, it is necessary to pair the device with your smartphone. For this, the Instax Link Wide relies on the Bluetooh and we can already say that the configuration does not require great technical skills. All you have to do is activate Bluetooth on your phone and select from the machines available in the area. It’s child’s play! Then this is where things get a bit tricky. The application offers 4 types of features, including simple printing. Directly from the phone’s archives, you have to select the photo to import to then be able to adapt it to the frame and make some adjustments of light, contrast and saturation.
Rather easy to use, the tool nevertheless has some limitations. For example, it does not offer sharpness adjustment, which is very useful when you want to play on the sharpness of an image. It is also impossible to play with the colors, in particular when you want to take your shot in black and white. We cannot recommend enough that you go through a third party application for the development and retouching of your images. On our side, we opted for Snapseed, which has tools similar to those offered by Lightroom.
However, for less demanding and picky users, Fujifilm has developed three filters that can be modulated as desired: Sepia, Black and white or enhanced. Nothing new under the sun. We would have liked Fujifilm to develop retro filters closer to instant rendering. Again, it is better to bet on your favorite image processing application to obtain a result more in line with your desires.
Otherwise, it is possible to change the orientation of his pictures and especially when they were shot in portrait. Again, the controls lack precision and it is far from easy to use. Care should be taken not to inadvertently tilt the photo. Just adding a 90 degree rotation feature would have made it much easier for us.
Beyond a simple impression
Based on the QR Code process, Fujifilm also includes the possibility of linking its message to audio, video or online content. Thanks to a dedicated recorder, it is possible to include a voice message for an enhanced experience. The user then only has to “flash” the code to access the little voice note. On paper, it’s pretty playful even if it’s not a revolution either. We noted some dysfunctions on our side, which can mar the experience. Several times the application crashed when we were in the menu dedicated to recording the message.
Note also that the application also offers the possibility of scanning a signature, a drawing to add it to its image and personalize its photos. A good idea for making personalized albums, but which also has its limits. If the capture of the traces is rather successful, it still lacks a smoothing functionality, the process can be laborious. This is particularly the case when you want to insert a handwritten message. You have to select an anchor point which will then be used to detach your path from the background. If you have fly-footed writing, you might have a hard time performing the maneuver.
Finally, Instax offers to make collages directly from its application. To do this, simply select the dedicated mode. You can also add stickers and emojis. Customizable models are also available, even if they are far from the most beautiful effect. This can nevertheless prove to be rather practical for the realization of original announcements or simply personalized gifts.
A simple and efficient design
Unlike the brand’s devices, the connected printer has nothing very original in its form. It features a textured plastic and comes with a base so you can put it anywhere. At the front, there is a light indicator that lets you know when the printer is on. On the back, the small hatch is used to insert the films. Its use is quite simple, even if you have to be quite vigilant when recharging.
On the technical side, the brand announces up to 100 impressions thanks to a full charge. This is much less than what we experienced since it turned off after the 20th print, and after a full night of charging. Finally, note that it will still cost 149 euros to get your hands on the Instax Link Wide. It is more or less the same price as the other devices of the brand. Remember that the films are marketed at just over 11 euros for ten exposures.