Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 printer review
Fujifilm has recently upgraded its pocket photo printer, the Instax Share, to make numerous improvements; the new model is known as the SP-3 and this version prints small, square photos that measure 62mm x 62mm (the previous photo size was 62mm X 46mm). I had a chance to test this device for several weeks at home under normal user conditions. I previously reviewed the Instax Share SP-1, And the Share SP-2 and you can read those reviews too by clicking the links.
The first thing you’ll do is connect the Instax to your smartphone so you can print to it. This was easier said than done for me. I struggled for a good couple of hours trying to get the Instax Share SP-3 to connect to my phone — any phone. I tried connecting to and printing from four phones; the iPhone 6+, the iPhone X, and the Google Pixel 2. Nada.
I kept getting error messages saying, “the models do not match. Please retry the operation” and “the selected photo can’t be used”.
I checked to make sure I was using the most up to date version of the Instax app (I was) but nothing seemed to work.
Eventually I was able to get it working by trying it on yet another smartphone; the Samsung Galaxy S8+. But since I realize not everyone is a tech blogger and has access to multiple phones I think this is quite problematic.
I gave up and eventually tried again with an iPhone 8 several weeks later. It connected on the first try. Perhaps there was a bug that was fixed in subsequent app updates?
Make sure you have the most up-to-date Instax app installed
Power the printer on
Go to your phone’s Wi-Fi menu
Select the Instax printer from the list to connect
Once it connects, return to the Instax app
Select your photo
Hit Connect and Print
Annoyingly, the printer will go to sleep after a few minutes, so it’s important to note if you left it unattended for a period of time, you may need to turn it back on and reestablish the Wi-Fi connection before you can connect again. This involves basically repeating part of the set up process each time you want to print. I find this a huge pain. You can’t just turn the printer on an pop out a few prints, and because the printer automatically goes to sleep after about 5 minutes it’s a constant on/off/reconnect process.
Fun film format – uses ‘Polaroid-style’ film technology
The photos printed on the Fujifil Instax Share SP-3, as with the previous version SP-2 are on a retro-style ‘Polaroid’ frame. Fujifilm now has this technology, though a Fujifilm rep has explained to me previously, “Fujifilm has a long history with instant film and Instax has no affiliation with Polaroid brand or technology. Essentially, the borders are there to seal the film.”
Polaroid was more blunt when I asked them why Polaroid cameras don’t use their original iconic film. Stephanie Agresti told me in an email, “Polaroid does not presently own the previous film technology. Polaroid products now integrate Zink Zero Ink technology to produce images instantly.”
Can you remove the film cartridges on the Instax Share?
The films come in plastic boxes that clip into the printer by opening a wide door in the printer’s body. You would think that makes it easy to swap cartridges (if and when different films emerge for the Share SP-3) but you can’t.
I swapped a few cartridges back and forth in the printer. Each time I’d make a swap, the printer would spit out a new blank photo, essentially wasting one of your precious photos. The ensuing print jobs came out with white streaks across the film, or otherwise appeared overexposed.
I checked with Fujifilm directly and they confirmed my findings; film cannot be switched back and forth. You must use an entire cartridge until it’s empty or risk ruined film and wasted money.
So the bottom line is, while you might think it’s possible to switch films and cartridges, you really can’t.
Fujifilm Film cost and print quality
Film packs come with 10 prints per pack and cost anywhere from $13 to $24, so it pays to shop around. The prints use high resolution ( 800×600 dots at 320dpi ) files to print crisp, clear photos, even if they are quite small.
Mercifully, there are no ink cartridges to worry about in this printer, and that’s because the photos develop on the paper itself. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember original Polaroid instant prints that popped from the camera blank, then developed over a few minutes. These work exactly the same way.
Other options for photo printing
There are options in the Fuji Instax Share app for improving, changing or playing around with your printed photos.
There are filters you can add to the photo (black and white, sepia), but the ability to add seasonal and colourful frames appears to have vanished. You can add text over part of the photo or crop it square, or print two photos on one print. I found that kind of useless, as the images are so tiny, most detail is lost. There are also enhancements you can make to less than stellar snaps to improve their quality.
Check marks on the photo grid in the app helpfully lets you know which ones you’ve printed so there won’t be any accidental duplicates.
Instax Share SP-3 is fast
The Instax Share SP-3 prints pretty quickly, once you’re connected. It takes about 10 seconds to print fully, then it will still need a minute or so to develop, just like those old style Polaroids. Plenty fast enough for me.
The Instax Share SP2 has a rechargeable battery which uses a micro USB cable. Fuji says the battery life on the printer will last about 100 prints, which could be weeks depending on how often you’re using the device. During my two-plus weeks of testing, and printing about 30 photos, I never needed to recharge it. A battery indicator also gives you a heads up on power status.
Overall review of Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 photo printer
I like the prints from this device; I like the larger format and really enjoy the Polaroid style border.
I think the setup interface could function better, as I believe this will be very frustrating for users who aren’t very technologically inclined. I also find it annoying how quickly the printer goes to sleep and must be reconnected.
I do like the convenience of this printer and think it’s a fun gadget to have on hand for parties and family gatherings.
The printer operates absolutely silently, which is nice, and the battery lasts a long time.
The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-32 is available in gold or silver, and sells for about $249 (a $50 price jump from the smaller format SP-2) at the Source, Best Buy, and London Drugs.