Fujifilm has announced the launch of its latest and first-ever pocket-sized digital camera, the Instax Pal– and boy is it ugly (sorry Fuji). As far as design choices go, we're a little baffled that this one made the cut, with a seemingly rudimentary attempt to make the camera cute and appealing to kids and teens, but in reality, it's giving Mike Wazowski vibes.
As someone who owns the sauve-looking Fujifilm Instax Mini 40, this new juvenile design just isn't cutting it for me. The Instax Pal is not like any of the best instant cameras that have come before, and what sets it apart from the usual Instax range of instant cameras is not only its super small size (and ugly aesthetic, which admittedly is a first for Instax), but the fact it doesn't create its own prints either.
This new miniature Instax Pal digital camera is the first "shoot only" product in the Fujifilm Instax series, which means it relies on other Instax Link smartphone printers with film cartridges to create the "instant" image at a later time.
The Instax Pal works by capturing an image using the camera. It will then create a digital Instax image, which the Instax Pal will send directly to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The image can then be saved to your smartphone and shared to social media, or printed using compatible Instax Link series printers, or an instant hybrid camera.
We reviewed the Instax Mini Evo a few months back, which is a hybrid instant-digital camera capable of digital images, with the choice for creating instant prints, too. It's one of the most popular yet most expensive cameras in the Fujifilm Instax range, but at least you're equipped with everything you need in one device, including the integrated app.
It's hard to understand what Fujifilm was thinking with the concept of this new miniature digital camera. The camera itself weighs just 41g and has clearly been styled to look like a tiny little Instax Mini. Not many people were initially a fan of this, describing it as a bubble camera.
Sure, the pocket-size design is great for on-the-go shooting and is perfect for kids who don't want to carry around anything heavy, but you'll need a smartphone to see your images, which most younger children won't have. In our opinion, you're much better off using your smartphone to capture images and printing them later using one of Instax's compatible printers or getting a hybrid-instant camera.
This new concept of shooting might seem fun and appealing, but it just adds an extra device into the mix – making it a three device process to print instant photos, which are meant to be quick and "instant". And all this while rendering your smartphone as the middle man to process it all. Having a wide-angle lens camera in your pocket is a cool concept, and we appreciate that the company is being innovative, but all it really needs is an SD card. That's it.
The Instax Pal does have some pretty cool features which might sway those on the fence, including Remote Shooting with the app, interval shooting to pick the best shot, and Instax Animation features which will combine images into a video, with the option to print it with a QR code and then scan it to play the video. It has a tiny flash on the front and an attachable ring strap viewfinder for framing your shots.
Additionally, personal audio can be recorded and set as the camera's pre-shutter sound, so you could get creative with this and have a meme-y noise or horrible screech every time you take a photo (whichever you decide).
If you're sold on owning a tiny digital camera made to fit in the palm of your hand, then the Instax Pal will be available on October 5 (and in 5 colours) at a retail price of $199.95 bundled with the Instax Mini Link 2, or as a standalone purchase for £89.99 (US pricing TBC).
Take a look at some other Instant cameras that are a lot more aesthetically pleasing! From the likes of Kodak, Polaroid, Lomography and Instax.