I am currently in Uzbekistan, doing some photo work for the ministry of tourism (more on the trip in my upcoming posts) and I wanted to quickly share my experience with a piece of gear that I will now be bringing with me to every trip going forward. When photographing strangers while traveling, I have always struggled with the issue of being able to deliver images to those who asked for them.
Previously, I would either collect a person’s contact information such as email, or ask them to send me a message via social network. In both cases, I have managed to either lose contact information, or simply lose track of all the images I promised to deliver, which was obviously not ideal. Before my trip to Uzbekistan, I decided to purchase the Fujifilm Instax SP-2, which looked like a promising piece of gear for printing photos on-the-go. It was small, lightweight and with the ability to spit out images right off my Fuji camera, my hope was that I would get at least some use out of it. I have to say, bringing the Instax SP2 turned out to be an amazing idea! Being able to print images for people as I photographed them got them excited on a whole new level and so far, no one has even bothered to ask me to send them the digital version.
The Instax SP-2 is a tiny device that measures 3.5 x 5.2 x 1.6″ (9.0 x 13.2 x 4.0 cm) and weighs just 8.8 oz (250 g). This means that you can basically put it into a small compartment of your camera bag, or just carry it in your pocket. It prints out 2.4 x 1.8″ (62 x 46 mm) images, which I admit is pretty small. I was a bit worried that people would tell me that their images look too small, but to be honest, no one has even mentioned it so far – they were so excited that their images were being printed right in front of them, that they simply didn’t care for the size. The moment I said “would you like me to print this photo for you right now?”, they just couldn’t believe it.
If you have a Fujifilm camera, this little toy is a no-brainer, since printing to Instax devices is built into camera firmware. Start out by setting the printer up under “Connection Setting” -> “Instax Printer Connection Setting”. It is a single menu setting where you can input the Instax printer number, along with the PIN code (if you set one up). That’s all there is to it! Since the printer cannot accept RAW images, you have to make sure that you either shoot RAW + JPEG, or simply convert the RAW image you want to print to JPEG, which can also be done in-camera. Once you are on the JPEG image you want to print, simply press the MENU button, then scroll down to “Instax Printer Print” under the Playback Menu, turn on the printer and click the menu item. The camera will connect to the printer, then ask you to confirm if you want to print the image. Once you click “OK” to proceed, it will send the image and get it printed. The whole process takes less than a minute on my Fujifilm GFX 50S, which is pretty incredible!
If you don’t have a Fujifilm camera, you will first need to transfer the image to your smartphone from your camera, then use Fuji’s Instax Share app to print out the photo. It does take time to go through the process, but it certainly works and the results are equitably as impressive.
Once the image prints out, you have to wait for a few minutes to get it fully developed. This is another part that excited each person, as they saw how the image would come to life right in front of their eyes. The best part is, the printer retails for only $139, but I got mine for $99 – Fuji often runs promotions on the printer and the film for it. At the moment, it looks like B&H is selling the SP-2 for $79, which is an absolute STEAL! In fact, I am probably going to purchase another one as a backup. While Fuji sells other Instax printers that can do larger prints, or prints with different aspect ratios, I find the SP-2 to be my top choice due to its small size. I packed four film packs for my trip, which so far has been plenty enough, as I only print one image per person who asks for a print.
One thing for sure, the Instax SP-2 is going to be coming with me on every trip going forward, especially when I will be shooting with Fuji cameras. Have you ever had experience with Instax products? Please let me know in the comments section below!