December 19, 2016

Fujifilm Instax SP-2

Instax makes memories tangible, shareable, and delightful, and the SP-2 is the best way to experience it

I’ve struggled to review Fujifilm’s compact Instax printer, the SP-2. I’ve had it for months, but it’s taken time for me to be able to articulate why I so enthusiastically recommend it.

The more time I spend with the Instax SP-2, the more I grow to love it. What I first considered a fun toy has slowly earned a permanent spot in my bag. It’s difficult to convey the reason for this without being there beside you, showing it to you, and encouraging you to print some photos on it.

In fact, the key is that it’s not about you or me—it’s about what this helps us do for others.

Artifacts of Memory

On the one hand, this small treasure produces artifacts of memory, and magnifies our emotional experience of them in a way I never thought possible.

It dissolves the crusty cynicism of my gear-addled photographer brain, rekindling my appreciation for what makes people love photography in the first place. It’s all about memory, storytelling, and sharing.

On the other hand…this is a tiny printer that uses expensive, ink-less sheets to produce tiny approximations of your multi-megapixel masterpieces.

Both these visions of the product are accurate, but only the former is true.

If you measure a photograph’s impact in emotional terms, paper beats screen every time. I’m a digital guy, but this simply isn’t debatable. Showing my family a freshly taken photo on my iPhone during a holiday gathering provokes the expected smiles and nods, but handing them an Instax print summons tears, hugs, and discussion.

Sheets are quick to emerge from the SP-2 (a lot faster than the first generation), but you still have to wait a few minutes for the shot to develop. This brief interval is part of the experience, and once someone has seen a print, the anticipation and joy with which they await the next is something you can’t replicate by swiping through a camera roll.

I don’t even bother telling them that shaking the print doesn’t help. It doesn’t hurt either, so why spoil the fun?

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Prints are more satisfying, but that’s true of all photo prints, not just Instax ones. The other half of Instax’s appeal is the immediacy of it. They’re instant prints.

I can connect to the SP-2 and send photos from my iPhone or iPad (or any other smart device that can run the Instax Share app) in seconds, and re-printing shots is a piece of cake. The app shares the mediocre aesthetics of all camera-related apps I’ve tried, but the functionality is there and you can even apply certain filters and frame decorations if you want to. I don’t.

More importantly, from my Fuji cameras, I can connect directly to the printer without requiring an intermediary device. I can literally go from shot to print in a minute, and the ability to hand over a print immediately is amazing for both parties.

Having the SP-2 around has changed the way family gatherings unfold, and has given me an endless wellspring of timeless gifts I can bestow on friends and strangers alike. It’s almost too easy.

If you have a photographer in your life and need a gift for them this holiday season, the Instax Share SP-2 would be my unequivocal recommendation.

It comes in Silver and Gold.

review photography digital lifestyle

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