I personally love the idea of a compact mobile printer. We all use our phones to take pictures every time something special comes up, and physical photos are always extra meaningful. But to do that you have to go through a computer, get the photo paper, cut it out. Ugh, right?
Good news is there are many smartphone printers on the market right now, and the SP-3 is just one of them. The SP-3 is the third in line of portable instant printers by Fujifilm. Its predecessors the SP-1 and SP-2 had not seen much change apart from the battery. So what’s so special about the SP-3?
The Instax printers let you have the nostalgic form of the Instax instant print without the hassle of taking your pictures with the risky Instax camera. I can relate to this on so many levels – I reviewed Fujifilm’s Instax SP-3 and the SQ6 at the same time and it was so hard to find the perfect shot under pressure to not waste frames. That’s probably the biggest reason I absolutely why I love the Instax printer!
The main difference between the SP-3 and its predecessors is that its prints come in the square 1:1 ratio. This is following the trend of Instax moving towards the square prints reminiscent of Polaroid’s retro prints.
The design of the SP-3 is made to be small and portable and they’ve accomplished it without a doubt. It can fit easily into any camera bag or even a small handbag. It also looks cute so that’s a plus! The battery on the SP-3 is rechargeable and removable, which is more environmentally friendly and allows you to bring along more batteries to last you on a long trip.
It charges with a micro USB that is included in the box. There was this one flaw I found that once I opened the rubber flap where the charging port was it couldn’t close back fully.
Other than that, I don’t have any problems with the design and I think its great. The printer also has 10 tiny lights right below where the photos come out from. This represents the amount of film left in the pack. A battery indicator also helps you gauge if you’ve got enough juice to last your picnic or party.
Installing the film pack is rather simple but it took a little fiddling to figure out how to exactly open the hatch on the back of the printer, but that might be a good thing since it’s rather difficult to accidentally open the compartment. After opening just line the yellow tape on the printer with the one on the film pack and you’re good to go. The printer has a set auto-off time to probably save battery. If you’re slowly editing your photos you might want to do that first before turning on the printer! Save all the battery before you need to plug it in.
Instax Share app
The Instax SP-3, along with all the previous printers, uses the Instax Share app available on both iOS and Android devices. The app uses a Wi-Fi connection to pair with the printer to print your photos. Ultimately this means that you can’t use any internet functions on your phone while you connect to the network hotspot created by the printer.
I found this to be quite a problem when asking my friends’ opinions on the photos I was about to print. I would have to constantly disconnect from the printer and connect back to my Wi-Fi network and rinse and repeat.
The Instax Share app itself is simple to operate but feels a tad bit old and outdated compared to the field. I think it could use a visual update but otherwise, it’s easy to navigate and get straight into printing. Photos are sorted by the albums they’re in, so creating a specific album for the photos you’re about to print is probably your best bet.
The app also offers basic photo editing mostly just adjustments like brightness and simple filters like B & W and sepia. You’re better off editing the shots in your own photo editing apps.
The app has a few bundled templates to help add some pizzaz to your photos, though I felt a specific photo editing app yields better results with a better variety of options.
There are a couple of social media tie-in features in the app like printing directly from Instagram hashtags, which could be useful if you’re helping to run a photo booth at a party. This function takes a while to load, so getting folks to directly send you the photos might be better if the party is small enough.
Speaking of social media, you can print directly from your Instagram profile and it already syncs everything if you’re logged in through the Instagram app on your device. So if you want you can make a literal IG profile in your room for decor – you can.
Last, the Share app has a great feature that prompts you when photos have already been printed so you never accidentally print the same picture twice. If you indeed wanted to reprint, it’s as easy as just hitting the ‘reprint’ button on the app or the physical one on the printer itself. This reprint function is rather useful for when you want to make sure each of your friends has their own printout for that photo you just took.
The prints themselves are just like those from Fujifilm’s Instax cameras. With a characteristic Instax colour, though while not completely clear, that’s what makes it unique. The printing is almost instant from the moment you press the ‘PRINT’ button on the app. Note that you can’t cancel the print once you’ve hit the button! After it’s printed you need to wait the standard time for the photo to develop.
Overall, I’m in love with Fujifilm’s Instax Share SP-3 and I think you would be too! There are some last things to note though. Unlike the SP-1 and SP-2, the SP-3 only accepts Fujifilm’s Instax square film which is more expensive than the film used in the 1 and 2.
The printer itself is a tad pricier than the previous two versions. The Instax SP-3 retails at all authorised retailers for $329.
If you’re planning on getting it, don’t forget to get yourself a few film packs (try the black square one too) and a carrying case if it tickles your fancy.