Fujifilm INSTAX mini Link 2 review
Written by Gordon Laing
The INSTAX mini Link 2 is the latest portable photo printer that uses Fujifilm’s hugely popular INSTAX mini format. Announced in June 2022, it’s available in Soft Pink, Clay White or Space Blue. Meanwhile INSTAX mini film comes in packs of ten, with twin-packs working out around 70 cents or pence per print. In the video below I’ll demonstrate it in action, but if you prefer to read a written version, keep scrolling!
At first glance the mini Link 2 looks a lot like the original mini Link, launched almost three years previously, and still on sale for a little less while stocks last. It shares a similar rounded shell, although the ribbed finish is now a little more pronounced. As before, the printer is charged over Micro USB with the battery good for up to 100 prints, the logo on the front doubles as a power button which also lights up to indicate the status, while INSTAX mini cartridges are loaded into a compartment in the rear and emerge from a slot in the top when printed.
So far so similar to the original mini Link, but new to the version 2 are a button to the side of the print slot and an LED in the corner of the body which both work alongside an updated app to support some fun new features I’ll show you in a moment.
But first things first: like other INSTAX printers, the mini Link 2 is primarily designed for printing photos from your phone, using the free mini Link app for iOS and Android which connects to the printer using Bluetooth. This is a wireless printer only.
If you own the Fujifilm X-S10 mirrorless camera, you can print directly to the mini Link over Bluetooth, but right now, it’s the only camera with that feature. I hope Fujifilm adds support to future cameras, but to be safe assume the mini Link is mostly or entirely for your phone.
When you first fire-up the mini Link app, you get to choose between the old or new printer, the latter unlocking more features. But as before the app is split between two main modes: Print and Fun. The Print mode has three options, with Simple letting you browse images on your phone including any you’ve transferred from different cameras. Video Print lets you shuttle through clips to choose the perfect frame to print, while INSTAX Camera lets you shoot with your phone with a frame for guidance, while also using the printer as a remote control, tilting it to zoom in and out and pushing the button to take the shot. In any of these modes, you can also adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, apply filters, crop or zoom, or stamp it with text and stickers.
In the Fun mode you can create collages, draw freehand over photos, apply frames, or perform a match test with a friend. So far so similar to the original mini Link, but the exciting new feature for the mini Link 2 which I’m going to concentrate on now is the INSTAX Air mode.
This fires-up a live view from the phone camera with a popout tray on the right with five options: spray paint, cherry blossom petals, laser pointer, sparkles and bubbles. The sparkle, pen and paint options allow you to then choose a colour.
Now for the clever part: the LED on the printer will light-up and you can now point it at your camera and push the new button on the printer to draw over the live image, which can temporarily dim to make the light easier to see on the frame. It’s like you’re using a digital spray-paint can and the printer vibrates gently when you’re applying the effect. Blossom petals fall slowly downwards, bubbles float upwards and sparkles stay put. Meanwhile the button on the printer has two pressure settings, feeling a little like a soft-touch shutter release, allowing you to adjust the flow in some modes.
In my demos someone else is filming the process, so I couldn’t see the screen and I’m blindly waving the printer around at times, but you can switch the phone camera into a selfie mode instead to better-frame the results. And once you’re happy with how the composition looks, just push the shutter button in the app to snap the photo which can be saved to your phone for sharing and or physically printed. Alternatively you can film a short video clip as you spray, allowing you to frame-grab later.
Of the new Air effects, the bubbles, petals and sparkles are certainly fun and can add a cute look to your photos, but I most enjoyed the laser pointer which effectively lets you light-paint over images without messing around with long exposures and dark conditions. You can alternatively apply any of the effects by hand from the app if you prefer not to wave the printer around or don’t have it to hand.
But waving the printer around is what the new features are all about, and it certainly encourages you to carry it with you at all times, which in turn encourages you to make more prints. In fact you could look at the Air features as a cynical way to encourage you to buy and consume more INSTAX film, but again you can apply the effects using the app, before saving and sharing the image digitally if you prefer not to print.
INSTAX mini Link 2 verdict
Ultimately the INSTAX mini Link 2 remains a useful portable printer for your phone that uses the popular mini instant format. Like all INSTAX printers and cameras, the paper emerges after about 15 seconds with the image gradually fading into view around 90 seconds later. No need to place the printer on a flat surface or to shake the developing print either – as soon as it pops out you can throw both into a bag or pocket and move on.
The benefit of an INSTAX printer over the traditional analogue instant cameras is you get to choose which images to print and whether to edit them first. You can also print anything in your phone, including photos copied from a bigger camera.
The new Air features on the mini Link 2 are certainly fun. I really enjoyed using the printer like a digital spray can, although I personally found it a little hard to hold one-handed while pointing at the camera and applying pressure to the button. The petal, bubble and sparkle effects are super cute, while the laser pen lets you light-paint without difficulty. Are they gimmicks aimed at getting you to buy and burn-through more media? Sure! But equally they are a lot of fun and since the printer itself only costs a little more than the old version – or in some cases much the same price – I’d recommend it for the novelty factor even if you intend to mostly use the basic print function. But c’mon Fujifilm, with the mini printer now on its second Link version, surely it’s time to update the SP3 Square model to the World of Bluetooth and an app that’s a lot more fun? Finger’s crossed.Check prices on the INSTAX Mini link 2 at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!