Launched in October 2019, the Instax Mini Link printer is Fujifilm's latest 'instant' printer. It uses the Instax Mini format of film, to produce credit-card sized prints.
The Mini Link includes a variety of different modes, including a standard printing mode, a party mode, and the ability to use the printer as a remote release for your smartphone (ideal for group shots).
You can operate the Mini Link via a free smartphone app for iOS or Android, with the printer connecting to your phone via Bluetooth.
At the time of writing, the Instax Mini Link retails for around £110 / $100.
You will also have to factor in the cost of purchasing Instax Mini film. A variety of different options are available, including different coloured borders and so on.
Prices start from around £8.99 / $12.99 for a pack of ten shots - but you can often find cheaper deals if you are prepared to buy in bulk.
Ease of Use
|Front of the Instax Mini Link|
The small size, shape and weight of the Instax Mini Link is designed to make it as portable as possible - Instax hopes that you might see fit to chuck it in your hand or travel bag, to always have with you for making impromptu prints on the go. While it is primarily aimed at the young / teenage market, it could also conceivably work for professional photographers wanting to make quick contact prints to give away to clients and so on.
Available in three different colours, we've been using the 'Dusky Pink' version, but there's also 'Ash White' and 'Dark Denim' (Blue) available too.
As with other Instax products, the Mini Link uses a simple design. There is just one main button on the front of the printer, which is surrounded by an LED ring which glows different colours depending on what the printer is doing - for example, it will cycle through the various colours available while it is printing a shot.
|Front of the Instax Mini Link|
To charge the printer, there's a USB socket on the side of the printer. Once it's charged you can use it completely portably, but you can also print while it's plugged in and charging, too.
Before you do anything, however, you'll want to load the Instax Mini Link with film. As with all other Instax products, this is a very easy process that takes just a few seconds. First of all, you'll need to release the back of the printer via a switch, and it'll pop open. Then you need to line up the yellow line on the Instax film with the yellow line on the printer itself. Snap the door shut and the protective sheet of the Instax film will pop out of the film ejection slot - you're now ready to go.
The next thing to do is to download the Instax Mini Link app from the iOS or Android store. Once you have it, hold down the button on the front of the printer to switch it on. You'll need to set up the app to connect to your printer via Bluetooth, which should just take a few seconds to initially connect. Once you've done it once, you should find that it automatically connects when the printer is switched on.
|Inside the Instax Mini Link|
Like the Instax Mini Link printer itself, the app is fairly straightforward to use and is pretty self-explanatory. At the top of the screen, you'll be able to see how many shots you have left in your film pack (out of 10), as well as how much battery life is left. The battery lasts quite well, so long as you remember to switch the printer off once you've made your print.
You've got a couple of different printing modes to choose from. The 'Simple Print' mode is probably the one you'll use most often. This does exactly what you'd expect it to do - creates a simple and straightforward print. Once you tap simple print, you'll be asked to choose a picture which is stored on your phone. You can print out anything you like so long as it's on your phone - so if you have a camera that you'll want to print from, you'll need to transfer your shot to your phone first. The notable exception here is newer Fujifilm cameras, from which you can print from directly.
Once you've chosen a picture, you can add a filter (monochrome, sepia, or 'auto' - which adds a colour correction), or you can adjust brightness, contrast and saturation. If you're happy with how the image looks, tap the large print icon and the printer will kick into action. A nice touch here is that the image will scroll up the screen, as if it's physically transferring itself to the printer. A print takes just a few seconds to pop out, but you will notice that when it first comes out of the printer, it is blank. It takes a few minutes for the print to fully develop, and you'll be able to watch it do so if you want to.
|Printing with the Instax Mini Link|
If you want to do something a bit more fun with your prints, then there is a 'Fun mode' you can experiment with. With this, you can add frames, create collages and add sketches to your print. There's also collaborative modes, including a 'match test', and 'party print'. The former is a silly game whereby you can print a photo of you and a friend, answer some questions, and your compatibility will be displayed on the print. The party print allows you to connect with up to five friends, who can send photos to your phone which remain hidden until printed out onto the Instax print itself. Both of these options can be quite fun at parties and so on.
One final printing mode is 'video print', which allows you to extract a frame from a video (or Live Photo) stored on your phone.
The last thing of note is the 'Instax camera' mode, which allows you to use the printer a remote control for your phone camera. Tap Instax camera, and your phone's camera will be activated. Then you can push the power button on your printer to release the shutter - if you have your phone set up on a tripod and want to take a group shot, this can be quite useful. You can also zoom in and out by turning the printer upside down.
|Side of the Instax Mini Link|
Which brings us on to the other interesting quirk of the Instax Mini Link. It includes inbuilt gyroscope so that you can adjust modes by moving the printer forwards and backwards. It's a fun feature, but it's hard to imagine why you would need to use it, rather than just tapping the icons on the app screen itself.
Once you're finished with the printer, it's important to hold down the power button to switch it off - otherwise the battery can run down quite quickly.
It's fair to say that nobody buys an Instax printer looking for the highest quality prints. The prints are designed to be fun, portable and a cute memento, particularly from a party or a gathering.
As such, you shouldn't expect perfect colours and bags of detail. On the whole, colours are generally pretty vibrant, with some colours perhaps displayed a bit better than others.
What's really fun is being able to add cute borders and frames, as well as different effects to your prints - that should make it particularly appealing to the young / teenage audience that the Mini Link is aimed at.
It's also fun using Instax Mini film with different coloured borders - of which there are lots of different versions available now, such as multicoloured, black or 'mermaid'.
Instax has proved to be very popular over the years, especially with the younger audience. When considering an Instax product, you can either go for a camera with an inbuilt printer, or a standalone printer which allows you to print whatever shots you like.
We'd always recommend going down the latter route for most photographers, as although instant cameras are fun, you've got so much more control when using a printer.
The Instax Mini link would make a fantastic present for somebody who likes to create physical mementos of their memories, and as mentioned earlier it could even be useful for professional photographers who might want to give away a quick or instant shot during a shooting session.
For most types of user, the danger with something like the Instax Mini Link is that you'll get bored of it quite quickly once the novelty wears off. It's fair to say that it's particularly fun when having a party or a special occasion (such as a wedding), and it's probably not something you'll use all that much in your every day life.
For that reason, the Instax Mini Link can easily be considered quite an expensive proposition. At £110 for the printer itself, and then roughly 90p per shot, it's not a cheap gadget for what it delivers by any means.
Overall, if you're a particular fan of Instax prints and want a fun and easy to use product, it's very good at what it does - but it doesn't come cheap.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||3.5|