When Fujifilm announced the Instax Share SP-1 printer I asked myself what I would use it for, and for long couldn’t find an answer that would justify the relatively high cost of each print. Later I realized that I could utilize it as a marketing tool, and all of a sudden I had so many ideas popping up that I just had to get one. Among other neat ideas I use Instax prints as my business card – could you think of a better business card for a photographer than…a photo? I couldn’t. But every coin has two sides and the SP-1 sure has its quirks, so the news that Fujifilm were about to release a new version of this printer caught my attention right away, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
In my opinion the only real improvement is that the SP-2 has a rechargeable battery. The CR2 batteries used for the SP-1 are relatively hard to get (especially abroad when travelling) and expensive and last for only about 60 prints. The new SP-2 printer comes with a rechargeable NP-45S battery but – at least from what I can see from the official press releases – without a charger. Considering the fact that the printer has a USB port I hope that standard USB chargers can be used with this product. This would also allow for firmware updates unless charging is the only purpose of this port. For travel I would recommend the purchase of at least one more NP-45S battery.
The new design
I don’t know what you guys care about but I personally couldn’t care less for the looks of something that will live inside my camera bag and only be taken out to change film cartridges. Let me quote Fujifilm: “(The SP-2) is available in Gold and Silver. From the product design point of view, its body has been refined and finished to create a sophisticated appearance.” At least they dropped the pink Hello Kitty version. Facepalm.
The press release celebrates an incredible speed increase stating that a print would take no more but ten seconds of a photographer’s precious life. That would be breath-taking 4-seconds faster than with the SP-1. I know a man in Lilliesleaf, Melrose (Scotland) who actually cares about this. Yes, the prints still take up to 5 minutes to fully develop. Sigh.
Improved image quality
It takes balls to speak of “image quality” when looking at Polaroids. After excessive use of the SP-1 I can assure you that “image quality” is more dependant on the image you want to print than on anything else. Instax film does not tolerate any exposure deviations. Forget high-key, low-key, the dynamic range of Instax film is (CENSORED). Raising the resolution to 800×600 at 320dpi looks good in numbers, but I doubt this would be noticeable in practical use. After all, we DO want that vintage look, don’t we?
Improved App features
The developers decided to add some new filters to the free Instax Share App. One should be careful when applying these as they tend to lead to over- or underexposure in certain areas of the images. Again, for me personally that basic vintage look and feel I get by just printing out my Classic Chrome JPGs from camera is totally enough.
Printing from camera…?
You will want to sit down before reading this: direct printing from Fujifilm X cameras will not (!) be supported when the SP-2 is released in July. Reliable sources however told me that this feature would be added at a later date. This very much reminds me on the still missing tethering feature of the X-Pro 2 and somehow shows that Fujifilm clearly changed their target group from X-Camera shooters to mobile phone users, hence also the need for a fancy new design.
What really – I mean really, really – upset me was the fact that the SP-2 would still use only Instax Mini film instead of the wide format. Group shots look so odd on Instax Mini film, even a full body shot of a single person is way too small to impress. An ideal solution would be a film cartridge bay that could take both Mini and Wide films (one or the other). D’oh!
The Fujifilm Instax SP-2 printer is scheduled for release in July, but not in Europe where it won’t be until at least late August as a reliable source told me. This long wait alone makes the 4-second print-speed increase obsolete for European users…
Will I get one? Sure not. I will get some rechargeable CR2 batteries and enjoy my good old SP-1 printer that already made many people happy – including myself.