With its latest Instax camera, Fujifilm has separated the camera from the printer. The Instax Pal is a tiny palm-sized 4.9-megapixel (MP) camera that takes digital photos, then lets you print them to the bundled Instax Mini Link 2 printer with a variety of effects via the new Instax Pal app. Designed for users 13 and up, the idea is to "capture life's spontaneous moments for photo printing," the company says.
The camera is automatic, but aperture and shutter settings cover a wide range of shooting conditions, from interior to exterior. It's equipped with a wide angle lens and flash, and lets you shoot in a variety of ways. You can capture images by pushing the large shutter button on the back, or trigger it remotely using the Pal app. It supports interval shooting to capture scenes with 3, 6, 11 or 21 continuous images at three-second intervals.
There's a detachable ring for use as a finger strap, simple viewfinder (lol) or a camera stand for remote shooting. Other features include a speaker for audio prompts, a USB-C port for charging, a microSD card slot (the internal memory can hold 50 images) and even a screw mount for a tripod.
Via Bluetooth, the Instax Pal app gives you a view through the camera's lens for composing images and triggering the shutter. Images are then automatically copied to the app. You can adjust the exposure by +/- 2 EV and choose two between two quality settings, Rich mode (vivid, with more detail) and Natural mode. When you're ready to print, there's a bundle of effects that includes sepia, cool, vivid and soft, along with controls for brightness, contrast, rotate, crop, text, stickers, emojis and more.
Printing from the app is possible, but unfortunately requires a second Fujifilm app for the printer. It lets you print Instax Mini pictures (2.13 x 3.4 inches) in about 15 seconds, with a 1.5-minute development time. Quality is about the same as you'd get with an Instax Mini camera like the SQ40, since the process is the same — the only difference is that the Pal's camera is separated from the printer. The advantage to the second app is that you can also print photos from your smartphone's camera reel.
Photos can also be sent to friends via the Pal app, or posted to social media — all fitting for a camera marketed to teens. The only challenge is that it isn't cheap. The Instax Pal bundle arrives in late October (along with the app) for $200, while the new Soft Lavender Instax film designed for the bundle is $15.75 for a 10 pack (regular Instax film is about $13 for a ten pack). If you only need physical photos, other Instax Mini models are far cheaper at less than $100 — but the Pal does support both physical and digital photos, while giving you a smartphone printer to boot.